I’m currently reading Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard, which FYI, has hardly anything to do with actual surfing. It’s more of a business manual on how to run a company that actually takes the environment and people into consideration.
I’m only a chapter in but one of the lines reads: “To know and not to do is not to know” and it really struck a chord with me.
I’ve always considered myself a mindful person when it comes to the environment. I’m vegetarian, I try to be conscious of the origins of my food, I take public transport as much as possible and I’m an avid recycler. But, if I’m being honest, I’ve never delved into what actually happens to my rubbish or recycling after I chuck it into the respective bins or what global warming actually means and how we can help stop it.
So, in line with Ariane’s new year’s resolutions, I’m challenging myself to ditch some of my own vices and pick up some better habits to live in line with my values. (Which is why I’m trying to go vegan too!)
First one? Shopping. I’m an online shopaholic and professional hoarder and last year I gave up buying any new clothes for three months and it was bliss. I had more time, more money and more space. But, yes, my retail therapy old ways came back but this year, I’m trying it again.
Secondly, I consume so much in general. I buy lunch every day, I use plastic packaging, plastic cutlery, I buy tissues and I use paper napkins so I really do want to stop contributing to landfill too because the stuff I’ve learnt about our living habits have astounded me. Here are a few #woke facts I’ve just cottoned on to…
No one is recycling enough
As a nation, we only recycle 14% of recyclable plastic. And around 50% of the plastic we do recycle is never actually recycled because it’s not been properly disposed of. I admit I never looked at my local council’s recycling policy before this week so was guilty of putting things like plastic bags in my green lid wheelie bin (rather than at a specific plastic bag collection bin) and being completely confused about what I should do with bubblewrap (which can jam recycling machines if not put in the right place.)
Our coffee consumption is getting out of control
Think about how much coffee you drink every day. Now, think about how many cups you chuck in the bin. Yeah, I quickly realised that it all adds up, with 7 million coffee cups thrown away in the UK every day – which adds up to 25,000 tonnes of coffee cup waste every year, to be exact. So, I got a bamboo forever cup instead since bamboo is the world’s most sustainable crop. And, it’s worth noting that coffee shops don’t even bat an eyelid when you hand it over for them to fill.
London consumes the largest amount of plastic bottled water in the UK
I’m guilty of it. I constantly buy multipacks of bottled water to bring me to work every day. I liked the convenience of it but considering that by 2050, there will be more plastic bottles in the oceans than fish, we really need to fix this. Plastic bottles make up 10% of all litter in the Thames, with ¾ of the fish inside consuming it, and considering how much I care about animals, these stats really hit home for me.
You can’t really recycle plastic bags
It takes the average plastic shopping bag 100 years to decompose and that’s only if it’s exposed to sunlight and air (which landfill rubbish often isn’t) so that plastic bag you chucked in the bin last week will probably outlast us all. So, now I have a ‘dirty’ tote bag that I put shoes in, a ‘fresh food’ tote bag for any fruit and veg and a ‘dry’ tote bag for everything else.
The sea floor is pretty much plastic
Considering 12.2 million tonnes of plastic litter enter the marine environment each year, it’s no wonder that 94% of the plastic rubbish that enters the ocean ends up on the sea floor. It’s not realistic for me to think I’ll never buy another plastic bottle of water again but I can make sure I only bin it in a recycling bin and never in one that’s overflowing (as these will just end up blowing away)
Plastic is seriously unhealthy for you
Chemicals like BPA and phthalates are used to make plastics and resins and when plastic is heated up (which can happen if your plastic bottle is in the sun for example), these chemicals can leech into the contents. And, since they’re known endocrine disruptors, they can cause a whole load of health issues so I’ve traded in for a glass and stainless steel as they’re both natural elements so are free from chemicals and wholly recyclable.
Plastic cutlery and straws aren’t ever recycled
I’m normally the first person to choose a plastic fork rather than a metal one. But, as it’s too small to recycle, it just adds to our ever-growing landfill. There is, however, a way around it. If you store it in a plastic takeaway container and recycle the whole thing, that works – but otherwise, just choose metal cutlery or invest in a stainless steel foldable spork! And, after finding out that the UK and US use almost 550 million straws a day – most of which end up in the ocean or take 200 years to break down into toxic particles – I’m all about refusing the straw, or using reusable stainless steel, glass and bamboo straws (I got mine from eco straws.)
What I bought to start my no plastic life
BKR glass bottle, £30
Organic cotton handkerchief, £4.59
Who Gives A Crap 100% Recycled Toilet Paper, £24 for 24
11% of the world are already suffering from global warming
According to Conservation International, around 800 million people around the globe are experiencing droughts, floods, heat waves, sea-level rise and extreme weather events. The solution? We all need to reduce our waste. Our food waste, our water waste, our electricity waste – all of it. I’m going to try shrink my carbon profile this year by refusing, reducing, reusing, repurposing and recycling as much as I can. It’s a start, right?
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