I’m Trying to Use Less Disposable Plastic, and I Need Help!

It’s day 8 of 30 Days Wild, and it’s also World Oceans Day. That makes today an excellent time to reflect on the disposable plastic audit I carried out at home yesterday. Basically I went around my house and tried to identify where I’m still using disposable plastic. You can see the results of my investigation on yesterday’s blog post.

Plastic Not Fantastic - 30 Days Wild

What does plastic have to do with the oceans? Well, as I mention on the blog, a lot of disposable plastic (and disposable other stuff) ends up in the sea, with horrible consequences for wildlife. It also has toxic implications for us.

Not so good, then, that I found a lot of disposable plastic in my house, including a single-use food container and some single-use spectacle wipes in a foil-backed plastic envelope. I’m mortified at this because I like to think that I consider the environmental implications of the things I buy. Clearly I do need to up my game, and I also need to keep reminding myself to try and stay away from disposable plastic.

Areas Where I’m Doing Okay

On the whole I’m managing to stay away from plastic bags and disposable cups and drinking bottles. Fortunately I haven’t found any products containing those awful plastic micro-beads. And I’m starting to cut down on my use of plastic containers for cleaning and laundry products by getting supplies from an online company called Splosh. They’re pretty good: you only get bottles when you first start using the products, and you have to buy them. After that it’s a case of using clever refill sachets which dissolve in water to form the cleaning solutions.

If you’d like to try Splosh with a discount, you can. Use the code 2164F9 when you check out, and we’ll both save £5.

Where I Could Do Better

Yesterday I identified a few places in my life where disposable plastic is an issue. So brace yourself, because here they are:

The fridge – I buy milk in tetrapaks or plastic bottles because that’s how it mostly comes. If I saw it in glass bottles, I’d buy them. Does anybody know if this is still possible?

My lunch – Oh dear. I really need to get on top of my lunch preparation. In the evenings I try and make extra portions to have for lunch the next day, but I’m very greedy so I often eat them. Or I have a late meeting with a work client and my best laid plans for the next day go out of the window. It’s nuts, because buying ready meals is more expensive, too. Must try harder (but at least I carry my own non-disposable spork).

The food cupboard – Those squeezy bottles are handy, but they’re PLASTIC! Note to self: buy the glass or canned equivalents in future.

My desk – What was I thinking with the disposable pen and tape dispenser? I can’t buy a refill for the pen, but I’ve discovered that I can keep the dispenser and buy refills of tape.

My spectacle case – The glasses cleaning wipe is the thing I’m most embarrassed about. I bought a pack of these because I was out and about one day and found I had nothing to clean my specs with. They work amazingly well, but the wipe itself contains plastic and the pouch is made of foil-backed plastic. Neither can be reused. In future I’ll carry the traditional cloth in my glasses case.

Skincare – I’d never noticed that the supposedly eco-conscious Body Shop and Liz Earle companies use disposable plastic containers. This isn’t great, is it? Body Shop used to offer refills, but they now don’t. Perhaps I could write to them and ask about it. As for the hand cream in the loo, I’m in the process of changing over to a range which is made locally and comes in refillable glass bottles. You can just pop down to the shop—A Store in Chelmsford–and get your bottle filled up. If you’re anywhere near Chelmsford, do check them out (although they’re not cheap, the range is lovely). They also have an online shop.

I’d be really interested in hearing from anybody who has managed to cut down even further on disposable plastic, especially if they also have a busy life. For example, buying bread in plastic bags always makes me wince, but I don’t really have time to make my own. And the milk issue is a tricky one. But I also believe that consumer power can make it happen, so let’s see how far we can take things.

When Plastic Isn’t Fantastic

On this, day 7 of 30 Days Wild, I decided to audit how much disposable plastic is in my life. I like to think that I’m an environmentally conscious consumer (I always carry my smug little reusable shopping bag, for example, and I have one of those non-disposable coffee cups), but even in this house there’s a lot of it. I think I need to do better.

What’s the problem with disposable plastic? Well, first off it’s a by-product of the petrochemical industry, so it’s made from non-renewable resources. Secondly, it doesn’t decay. We’ve all heard the terrible stories of the damage done to marine life, but the fate of plastic dumped in landfill is equally bleak. It just stays there, taking up space. In tiny, cramped Great Britain, this is (or ought to be) a real issue, because space is something we don’t have a lot of.

Here’s a depressing rogue’s gallery of my disposable plastic:

Disposable Plastic in my Bathroom
Even supposedly environmentally friendly brands are at it!
Disposable Plastic in my Glasses Case
In my Glasses Case
Disposable Plastic on my Desk
On my Desk
Disposable Plastic in the Utility Room
At least this one’s refillable
Disposable Plastic in the Food Cupboard
In the Food Cupboard
Disposable Plastic by the Sink
By the Sink
Disposable Plastic in the Loo
In the Loo
Disposable Plastic in the Fridge
In the Fridge
Disposable Plastic for Lunch
For Lunch