Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Reducing Disposable Plastic

For the second time, I’ve given up on Beth’s Show Your Plastic Trash challenge – I think it’s a great idea, and it’s really eye-opening, but I keep failing the rule about No Guilt. I just can’t analyse the things I’m sending to landfill and not feel guilty about it. However, I do want to do something to record my attempts to live in a more environmentally friendly way, so I’ve resurrected this old blog to post about things I have done, and things I’m working on.
Plastic-free or lower plastic successes
Toothpaste – I now use Lush’s Toothy Tabs which are plastic-free from the point of purchase.
Toothbrush – bamboo handles reduce the disposable plastic content considerably.
Vegetables – Abel and Cole’s weekly box is organic and low on plastic.
Nuts and dried fruit – a market stall in Leeds sells them in bulk, in paper or low-plastic bags.
Books – using the Kindle, the library, and local bookshops reduces plastic packing in the post; amazon’s own wrappers are all-card.
Fruit juice – buying apple juice concentrate and fruit squashes or cordials in glass bottles takes it down from three or four Tetrapaks to one cap.
Bread – buying flour in a paper bag and making bread at home reduces wrappers considerably.
Soy milk – a powered kind comes in a big tin and is low-plastic and space efficient. The downside is that it doesn’t taste as good as the Tetrapaked ones (and I’ve only found one brand, so I don’t know whether it’s the method or the brand).
Craft materials – by being selective about crafts, buying from markets and local shops rather than chain stores or online, and buying in larger quantities, I can reduce the plastic wrappers associated with my hobbies.
Shampoo and conditioner – by using Lush’s solid bars and some vinegar from a glass bottle, I can cut disposable plastic out of washing my hair entirely.
Soap – Lush again. I may have regarded this part of the low-plastic challenge as an excuse to shop at the nice-smells shop!
Deodorant – I don’t find that I need an antiperspirant, and have been making my own deodorants/body sprays for some time using water, re-use spray bottles, and essential oils. The only disposable plastic is the caps of the oils bottles, but the oils go a long way.
Takeaway – finding the local place which does vegan pizza in a cardboard box was the key to this.

Things others have improved but I can’t seem to:
Other food wrappers – a lot of basics just don’t seem to be sold without plastic. I can buy rice in big sack, but it’s still in a plastic sack; I can buy a big bag of pasta, but it’s still a plastic bag. I can buy dried beans and lentils (less shipping costs than tinned), but they’re still in a plastic bag. I think this is due in part to the lack of bulk-buying (from open bins) in the UK.

Things I can’t work out how to cut:
Medication wrappers – I anticipate needing routine medications for most of my life. They all come in plastic. There isn’t really a choice. None of it is even recyclable.
Envelope windows – I try and get off mailing lists, especially those of charities who are wasting my donation by sending me endless shiny post. My banks mostly let me have statements online-only. But some people (the hospital, the council, the tax people) are always going to write to me, and they all use plastic window envelopes.


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Today’s prompt: the thing you didn’t choose.

Dear Bicycle

I chose
not to be good.

I chose
to kill the world.

I chose
learning to drive
buying a bike.

Of course,
I can’t cycle
but still
I could die green.

I could
pedal terrified
but good.

In the end I
chose the car.

Possibly I should have addressed this poem to the environmental movement who have instilled in me such a deep sense of guilt and powerlessness, but in truth, I’m trying to stay with them. I recycle! I only buy energy-saving bulbs! I can’t compost or change my heating system or insulate my rented Victorian house, but I write to my MP about green issues! I do what I can; please don’t hate me!

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(I promise the pun is just for the title.)

My mother observed to me a while ago that it we are serious about tackling climate change, one thing to do would be to change people’s attitudes to hats.

Although I’m sure QI is right to say that you don’t lose more body heat from your head than from, say, a leg, most people cover up their legs when they feel a bit chilly, and ditto their arms. In all the campaigns that say ‘turn the heating down and put on a jumper instead’, however, I’ve yet to see one which says ‘wear a hat’ – and it really does keep you warmer than going bare-headed.

What hat will you wear to save the world?

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It is Christmas Eve (does knowing that make me a Christian?) and there is snow on the ground in this corner of Hertfordshire despite last night’s thaw. We finished our Solstice cake last night (it’s like a Christmas cake or a birthday cake but you put as many candles as possible on it to encourage the sun to come back) – just in time for the Christmas cake we’ll have to eat tomorrow. I say that; it’s in a tin in the kitchen but hasn’t got icing or even marzipan just yet.

My bank have apparently mislaid my money – almost all the savings which I’m supposed to be living on for a year, gone, slipped into a computer or human error in the process of transferring them from one account to another. I keep ringing up and asking but I rarely get clear answers.

On the good side, my teeth remain in good health. So many of my friends seem to be in need of fillings, or keep having bits fall off, or get toothache for one reason or another, that this seems worth reporting. I’ve still only got half a wisdom tooth, but the dentist apparently doesn’t consider that a problem. Also luckily, the check-up was free thanks to my HC2 (‘you are officially poor for NHS purposes’) certificate.

My shopping is done (most of it was donations to charities anyway), and I have baked shortbread. The presents I’ll give tomorrow are wrapped.

The local Quaker Meeting has loaned my family a ‘monitor your electricity use’ gadget which gives minute-by-minute live data on the household’s power use. My brother is experimenting with it so that he can provide technical support to other members of the meeting who might want to use it. There is a certain fascination in seeing the watts roll past and trying to work out what causes each change. Some you know, of course: the tumble dryer is obvious. The pump on the boiler, on the other hand, isn’t. I’m trying to fight the tendency to see each upward rise as automatically negative – the alternatives might not use electricity, but could be as bad or worse for the environment as a whole.

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