For quite some time I was well aware that most of the rubbish in our kitchen bin is plastic food packaging. I used to try and stack boxes and tubs inside each other so the bin didn’t fill up as quickly.
It’s funny how you can do things habitually and then suddenly one day want to change your behaviour! For no obvious reason I decided to take action to use less plastic. It’s shocking when you begin look around and realise plastic has become so much part of our lives that we don’t even notice it.
The kitchen is particularly bad. No doubt lots of people are like me and start to think about food packaging first. Fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, yogurt, cheese, milk, biscuits, cake. There’s hardly anything that isn’t in a plastic tray or wrapped in plastic.
Even teabags we now know usually have a plastic lining so they don’t disintegrate. Yes, even some of the premium and organic teabag brands. I’ve read that the only way to be sure is to buy loose tea leaves.
The bathroom is another major culprit. Shampoo, bubble bath, cleanser, skin tonic, moisturiser, make-up. Fortunately I prefer bars of soap to bottles of the liquid stuff, but the cotton wool pads I’ve been buying at Lidl are cotton and polyester and can’t be composted. So I won’t be buying those any more. I’ve stopped buying cotton buds with plastic stems, but the ones with cardboard stems come in a plastic bag!
I’ve seen articles that list all the (pricey) items they consider you need in order to transition to less plastic, or even a plastic-free life. Water bottles, reusable coffee cups, glass jars to get filled at the meat and deli counters, cloth bags for produce and bread, fabric napkins, metal straws etc etc.
I think this is spectacularly missing the point, as all the suddenly unwanted plastic items will end up in landfill (or the ocean, as David Attenborough has so shockingly reported). When we buy something we take on the responsibility for using and disposing of it responsibly.
I’m using all the plastic things that are now so unappealing, with the intention of eventually replacing them with wood, glass or metal when, and only when, they wear out.
Changing habits doesn’t happen overnight. Far from it. The scale of the challenge can be overwhelming so I’m taking it step by step. I borrowed Bea Johnson’s book Zero Waste Home from the library and it was so full of useful information that I bought my own copy.
I’ve tried using homemade dishwasher detergent in her book and was initially delighted with the results, but then it seemed to stop working so well. I’ll try again and report back, on that and my other efforts to use less plastic.