Lessons from six months reducing my plastic consumption
This post isn’t going to change the world.
Neither is it going to help you to completely eradicate your plastic consumption.
What it will do, though, is help you to think about ways in which you can reduce your plastic consumption, whilst also acknowledging some of the troubles and difficulties you’ll encounter along the way.
I’ve always considered myself to be fairly ethically minded, particularly when it comes to the environment.
My mother and step-father are both very ‘green’ and in their roles on the local government have been instrumental in introducing lots of recycling and environmental initiatives to the town where I grew up.
In recent years, I think I’ve been naive to my plastic consumption. I was a student; I was more interested in going out, socializing and r̶e̶c̶o̶v̶e̶r̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶f̶r̶o̶m̶ ̶h̶a̶n̶g̶o̶v̶e̶r̶s̶ studying.
Since settling down and buying my own home with my amazing girlfriend, we’ve become a lot more conscious.
We’ve been vegan for almost 18 months now and for the past six months we’ve been consciously trying to reduce our plastic consumption. It’s been a challenge, but here’s what I’ve learnt:
The small changes are easy
The small changes are really easy and you’ll barely notice a difference.
Bin the plastic straws and toothbrushes and opt for environmentally friendly versions.
The first thing we did was stop using plastic straws. Instead, we opted for stainless steel straws.
Did you know? Plastic toothbrushes take over 400 years to decompose!
We also ditched toothbrushes and replaced them with bamboo toothbrushes.
Another change we made was to stop buying plastic bottled water when out and about and instead now carry reusable bottles, which we love.
These are really simple changes around the home that can make a big difference quickly.
Some things will be trickier
There have definitely been some challenges since trying to reduce our plastic consumption.
We started the journey by being a bit extreme — trying to cut as much out as quickly as possible.
It didn’t take long before we realized how hard that would be.
One example of that was cutting out cling film (plastic wrap) and tin foil. We bought re-usable covers off eBay, but they really have been dreadful.
Reluctantly, I had to admit defeat.
We now use tin foil, but don’t use clingfilm.
We’ve lost a small battle, but by making as many changes as possible, I feel like we’re winning the war.
You will have to make sacrifices
One of the things I always say to people who say they couldn’t ‘go vegan’ or couldn’t ‘reduce plastic’ is:
You have to make small personal sacrifices in order to benefit the planet.
We’ve found that in the past six months, we’ve had to sacrifice some things in the quest to reduce our plastic consumption.
One of those things has been our shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. We ditched the bottled varieties in favour of bars — which you can get in the UK from Lush.
Are they as good as the bottled versions? Probably not.
Do they do the job? Yes.
Is that small personal sacrifice worth it for the benefit of the planet? Absolutely.
Sometimes it’s out of your control
For the first few months, I used to get really frustrated with the packaging everywhere.
Need to grab a sandwich on your lunch break? Chances are you’ll be purchasing some plastic wrapping.
Need a drink? It’ll probably come in a plastic bottle.
It’s easy to beat yourself up about these things.
I’ve come to realise, though, that sometimes these things will be out of your control.
It sucks, but sleep well knowing that you are doing your bit to save our planet makes it a little bit easier.