It’s now 2 years since I embarked on my plastic free year. 2018 was a reduced plastic year but certainly not plastic free. The lure of convenience food and new clothes were too much to resist entirely.
But as I emptied my recycling bin for the third time over the last few weeks, my heart sank as I realised how easily I’d slipped back into old habits. OK, it was coupled with Christmas indulgences, but in 2017 I’d survived quite happily without all the additional extras. So I have decided I need to do better in 2019 and make myself accountable again.
Adding to my resolve is the recent news that the soft plastics recycling scheme has been suspended due to overload and nowhere to recycle. Corroboration, if I needed it, that the answer is reducing rather than recycling.
In returning to reducing my plastic footprint, I have also been thinking a lot about sustainability and what that means to me. By definition, sustainability means that something can last, be ever perpetuating and enduring. So, if zero plastic is a sustainable way of life, why did plastic creep insidiously back into my day-to-day life last year?
I think that it is simply that in a world of a multitude of different pressures, the priority of living plastic free slipped down the list. Whereas in 2017, I assiduously planned and thought about ways to accomplish things, in 2018 I ended up wandering around the supermarket at 8.30pm trying to find a quick meal after work. Living sustainably requires focus on all sorts of things – from ensuring the shopping is done to leaving work at a reasonable hour to cook dinner. So sometimes plastic free may have to recede into second place if it’s causing too much of a strain on the rest of my life. I’m thinking mostly of things like buying meat from the supermarket instead of the butchers, or buying frozen blueberries if it means I’ll actually eat my porridge for breakfast. On the other hand things like humus in a plastic tub (guess what I’m dipping carrots in just now!) or orange juice or corn chips for nachos are just indulgences and can be banished once more.
Some conscious decisions to buy plastic that I made last year –
- Bathroom scales. Yes, it contains plastic but it is an analogue one and has a 15 year warrantee.
- Reuseable batteries and a charger,
- A reusable lint remover
- Much needed new clothes (highlighted by doing a clear out last year). I’ve accepted that with my aversion to wool (yes, even alpaca) and any scratchy fabrics I will never have completely plastic free clothes. Cotton, bamboo and linen do get priority but are often not completely free of nylon, lycra, viscose or polyester.
- Christmas presents
2018 wasn’t all bad though. – there were quite a few wins. I love love love having a capsule wardrobe. it makes life so much simpler and ,when the seasons change, I rediscover clothes I’d completely forgotten about. It also allowed me to clear out so many things. That process of one in one out has continued as I have now replaced all of the takeaway containers I owned with glass containers. (Given the takeaway containers were from 2016, it was probably a good idea as the plastic probably wasn’t safe for storing food). I also made lots of my own bread, though not in last couple of months as it;s been too warm to have the oven on for an hour. The other success was my handkerchiefs. I haven’t bought tissues all year – in fact I still have 3/4 of a box left from 2017. Even better, there’s only been one paper in the washing machine incident all year. That is most definitely something to cheer.
This time next year, I’d really like to be cheering again about a sustainable year so here are some goals:
- Collect and photograph accumulated plastic on a monthly basis. I can’t face having a collection of plastic cluttering up my bedroom for the next year, so I will be disposing of anything that can;t be reused on a monthly basis.
- Explore what a sustainable life for me is with wider sustainability goals.
- Blog more frequently! I do enjoy writing this blog and it keeps my focus going.