Could you live a plastic-free life?

The plastic vortex greenpeace environment campaign

Plastics greenpeace campaign

It takes 450 years for plastic molecules to break down and most households throw away a shocking 40kg of recyclable plastic a year – so it’s an environmental nightmare, but can you live without it? Meet a Plasticarian – a person who does not use plastic in The Independent on Sunday is my environmental news pick of the week and while the people in the article sounded a bit extreme (searching for places to buy toilet paper not wrapped in plastic), I think we could all benefit from a less plastic-fantastic life.

In retrospect, and without consciously doing so, I think I’ve definitely reduced my use of plastic over the past few years. I’ve stopped buying bottles of water when out on the go (I have plenty of stainless steel ones instead); fruit and veg I buy loose from the supermarket or market and pass on the small plastic bag; weekly fresh bread comes in a paper bag; there’s very little processed food in my weekly shop (food like chick peas, lentils, beans etc are all in tins); chocolate comes in cardboard; I rarely drink juice and I make my own hummus now (I used to buy at least a couple of supermarket tubs a week) so I definitely save tons of plastic there. I think cooking most things from scratch cuts down on a lot of packaging by default.

But I still use a toothbrush and I work in the beauty industry (so have crates of beauty products in plastic containers) so I’m by no means plastic-free , but my life (and waste bin) are certainly a lot lighter than they used to be.

But plastic is in everything these days and it really kind of upsets me. Even simple things like breakfast porridge has been turned into a plastic extravaganza with fancy microwaveable pots, transparent lids, portable spoons, etc and all ending up in the bin taking hundreds of years to degrade.

What’s wrong with buying porridge in a simple bag or box and cutting out all that waste, pollution, manufacturing, etc. But packaging manufacturers seem adamant on making us consume more and more heavy plastics in more and more unnecessary ways.

I’m not proposing boycotting this modern day convenience like some people in the Inde’s article because I know that’s not realistic but it’s worth being more conscious of the plastic we consume and dispose of. Our oceans, wildlife, birds, animals, marine life, our fish farming and ourselves will be far better off if we reduce, re-use and recycle (and even refuse) where possible.

Check out these sites for more info on plastics and our world…

Newsnight report on plastics polluting our seas

Plastic Oceans

Greenpeace Trash Vortex campaign

Lucy Siegle debates plastic vs glass


Non-toxic Nike?

Greenpeace launched a ‘Dirty Laundry’ campaign this year highlighting the problem of toxic water pollution by the textile industry in China. This week Nike shocked the world by accepting the ‘Detox Challenge’ to eliminate all toxic chemicals from its supply chain and life-cycle of products by 2020. Puma accepted the Detox Challenge too, as well as announcing a commitment to a more environmentally-friendly future. Greenpeace is now waiting for Adidas to follow suit, to mark the campaign a success.

After a year-long investigation, Greenpeace found major international clothing brands Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Bauer Hockey, Calvin Klein, Converse, Cortefiel, H&M, Lacoste, Nike, Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation (PVH Corp) and Puma manufacturing at facilities where toxic discharge is released. The discharge released into waterways contains a range of hazardous and persistent chemicals with hormone-disrupting properties, posing a threat to the ecosystem and human health.

Greenpeace wants big corporations to use their influence to eliminate all toxic chemicals from their supply chains and products and wants governments to commit to a ‘zero discharge’ policy for a safer future.