Ever since I was in primary school and learned about pollution, littering and the rain cycle, I’ve been a sort of mini-environmentalist. I followed the recycling rules in our house to a T – and actually we were one of the first and only houses to start recycling that soon (early 2000’s..maybe even before). I never littered and wasn’t ashamed to pick a friend’s litter up and give them a stern look when they did.
At one with nature…
I loved trees and was always genuinely angry when I saw them being cut down for new developments, or, for neighbours to have more light…. I’d be disappointed when trees would be blown down in a storm. The big storm of St. Stephen’s night in 1996 is a good example. The summer storm of May 2010 also. See? I love nature so much I remember the dates of certain weather events…I was and am obsessed with nature and our planet!
Throughout nearly my entire life I lived like this, thinking I was like a disciple to Mother Nature. Until now. As climate change becomes a very real and scary reality we are all being made more aware of the environment and how to combat it. But nothing opened my eyes as much as the documentary A Plastic Ocean.
“With knowing comes caring, with caring comes change.” – Manuel Bustelo
This quote is so relevent to this subject, as well others, veganism in particular. But in terms of the environment, waste production, consumerism, and the effects of the materials we use to produce things today, this quote is spot on.
I did not know that a community in Manila, The Philippines lived on a giant dumping ground of waste – mainly of plastic.
I did not know that burning plastic releases harmful cancer causing chemicals into the air.
I did not know that 90% of all plastic in the USA is not recycled.
I did not know that over 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the oceans every year.
I did not know that over 90% of seabirds mistake plastic fragments in the ocean for food.
I did not know that seabirds eat so much plastic that it fills their stomachs until nothing else will go down their throats and they die a slow painful death – with stomachs full of plastic.
I did not know that over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
… but now I do, and I care.
And I can’t go on using and consuming plastic when I know what it does to our oceans, animals and people in vulnerable areas.
I have to change.
Although I may have recycled my plastic where possible, I didn’t curtail my use or purchase of plastic containing products. Every time I purchased something made from plastic, I was contributing to the consumer demand for plastic, and thereby supporting the supply of plastic.
What can we do?
We need to halt all plastic production NOW. We use and love plastic because it’s cheap and durable. But it will destroy us because it is so cheap and durable. It is omnipresent, in the developing world, and in the developed world. All of the plastic on earth today will be here in 500 years. Production needs to stop if we are going to have a chance at saving our oceans and ourselves.
Recycling as a child and teenager was one step, going vegan was another step (see Cowspiracy), and the next step I will be taking in my quest to do no harm to this beautiful planet, is stopping my use and consumption of plastic.
Steps I’ll be taking in my quest to go”zero-plastic” will include:
- Choosing products made from natural materials and/or glass instead of plastic.
- Refusing plastic cutlery when getting takeaway food – I’ll invest in reusable cutlery instead.
- Refusing plastic cups when ordering a take away tea or coffee. I’ll get myself a Keep Cup.
- Investing in reusable cloth bags for my fruit and veggie shopping trips.
- Only buying from companies who use recycled or biodegradable packaging.
- Whenever it’s time to buy new make up I will be specifically looking for companies with recycled or glass containers.
What have I done so far?
Now, the above list is just a small selection of actions that I haven’t taken yet. There are some other very important steps and habits that I’ve already started to take and develop on this zero-plastic journey:
- I bought myself a reusable glass bottle which i will refill daily from the water fountain at work, and from the Britta filter we have in out house.
- My hairbrush, comb and body brush are all made from bamboo.
- I got myself a set of glass straws for my smoothies, juices, cold teas, and for taking with me on nights out. Yes I will be that person who pulls a straw out of her bag for her gin and tonic. 🙂
- I haven’t bought a plastic bottle of shampoo in a year. Check out my no-poo blog post to find out how I manage my hair by not washing it.
- I got myself a stunning rain jacket to keep me dry when cycling into work – it’s made from 17 recycled plastic bottles!
This is only the beginning. I’m very committed to this new venture and I have a lot to learn. Come with me as I document my zero-plastic journey. Send me tips and tricks in the comments. If you know of any good vegan make up brands whose packaging is made from glass or another eco-friendly material please let me know.
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