With the pressure to change, know that it’s OK to NOT do everything
It’s still January and it feels like the longest month of the year. Whether you made promises to change, improve or do something differently in 2019 and are looking for advice, or if you’ve just stumbled across this, I’m here to tell you it’s ok to do it ONE EASY STEP AT A TIME. Hopefully reducing our impact on this lovely planet is up there at this time of year with trying not to think about the latest Brexit debacle, but maybe you need a little extra motivation, or you’re wondering where to start or how to do it on a budget and within the remit of being normal busy people? Well, Fantastic Less Plastic is here to help because….
It’s true. We don’t have to be perfect, that’s boring, we’re all different, let’s embrace it. It’s the same mantra for how we reduce our impact on the environment. There are tons of lovely natural products to purchase as replacements for single use plastics. But they can be expensive. I bought my replacements gradually as things ran out. A plastic free shampoo here, a coconut scourer there. So I’ve managed to do it over time and there’s still a way to go. If you’re already a zero-waster then I take my hat off to you, you’re amazing. Most of us aren’t yet. And January isn’t the time when we want to be spending extra cash.
So here are a few tips for realistic changes or habits that any of us normal, busy, hectic, people can PICK AND CHOOSE from that will massively reduce our impact on the environment and won’t cost the earth (in both senses)…
**Take your own shopping bags every time you go out. Leave them in the car, buggy, bike basket, by the front door or wherever it is that you won’t forget them to avoid ever having to pick up another. Totally free and little old you could literally save 100s of plastic bags ending up in the ocean.
**Repurpose or upcycle stuff. You’ll be kinder to the environment and unwittingly “bang on trend” at the same time. So think about what else it could become. Be as imaginative as you can. Turn old wellies into plant pots. Old clothes into squares of “unpaper” kitchen towels. I found myself feeling guilty about a packet of tortilla wraps in resealable ziplock plastic packaging recently. So that package is now used as an extra storage item in our fridge. Currently with cheese in, it’ll likely have something else in it next week. Not perfect but better than chucking it.
**Think outside the box. If you haven’t got around to buying your beeswax food wraps yet but want to avoid cling film, you could consider using some funky fabric and an elastic band, or tin foil. Reusable and recyclable options (but don’t microwave them)!
**Ease the guilt of ordering a cheeky take away by taking your own containers for them to fill. If you’re not quite ready for that or they’re delivering don’t fret, you can make sure you reuse the containers. The plastic ones are often air and liquid tight, so wash them out and keep them for your own fridge and freezer storage. The foil ones can be washed and reused too. While we’re talking takeaway, if you’re ordering pizza, ask them to leave out that little plastic ‘table’ in the middle of the box, and tell them to keep the dip. Who eats those dips anyway.
**Keep jam jars to store foods in too, we’ve all seen the huge ones for making pasta and rice look great, but did you know you can even freeze them too? So your smaller everyday jars are perfect for keeping gravy or pasta sauces and alike in.
**Say no to pointless plastic. Plastic straws are an obvious enemy but there are heaps of other things you can say no to as well. Keep reusable cutlery (you won’t miss a set from home) in your bag, car or desk drawer so you can avoid plastic disposables.
**Drink differently. If tea is your usual thing, ditch the usual tea bags (most of which contain plastic) and add some sliced lemon to your water – it’s surprisingly nice in a plain but refreshing kind of way – and cheap and healthy too. If wine is your thing, buy a screw top or real cork topped bottle to avoid plastic corks. If it’s beer, buy glass bottles or cans that aren’t held together with plastic rings.
**When you’re food shopping be conscious of the packaging. Go for dishwasher tabs in cardboard, butter in paper, sweets in foil…you get the idea.
**Borrow things or swap stuff with friends. Clothes, books, toys, tools. You name it, if you don’t need your own, think how you can get hold of it a different way.
**If you’re buying, look at second hand or vintage first, exactly what you want might be nearby just waiting to be reloved…
**Make your own cleaning products from vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and lemon! Refill a container you already have and voila! Its cheap and it actually works. There’s hundreds of recipes and videos online….this is one I like…
**Walk an extra journey or two, good for you and the planet, and earns an extra slice of cake….
**….that’ll be homemade cake of course, because most of your ingredients can be bought in card or paper packaging and lets face it they always taste better..so get baking and homemaking for a guilt free treat.
**and last for now but definitely not least, do you really need that takeaway coffee at all? Or if you do could you bring your own refillable bottle or cup? You’ll usually get a little change from your usual coffee as a thank you coupled with the knowledge that little old you (again) can directly contribute to saving huge amounts of waste. It’s got to be worth it.
So in this month of big pressure and promise to change, don’t feel you have to change yourself, or spend a fortune to do your bit. We are all in this together, so pick and choose whatever is do-able for you and stick to that.
If you have any comments or want more tips and advice please do get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org and start 2019 with great planet goals.