The Plastic Free Journey: Take Your Time

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

Lao Tzu

The current plastic free movement seems like it is everywhere; fast food restaurants switching to paper straws, shops getting rid of single use carrier bags. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, not by any means. However, I do believe that there are a lot “plastic free bandwagons” that many chain restaurants and retailers are jumping on and they aren’t always for the right reasons.

The effect that this is having is making the plastic free movement look like a fad, like a trend that everyone’s going to give a go; maybe people will buy a metal straw but then it’ll end up sitting in their cutlery draw after being used once for a chocolate milkshake because the paper ones don’t do the job.

When it comes to making the switch, it’s all about time and patience. It’s often best to start off small and noting ways where small changes can be made that don’t greatly differ from a current routine. For example, instead of heading to Superdrug or Boots to get bottled shampoo, it could be just as easy to go to a Lush store and pick up a package free shampoo bar instead. Then after that routine has been mastered, start looking at local and independent retailers that are selling plastic free shampoo.

One of the main ways where I’ve noticed people tripping up, is buying something that is plastic free when they already own essentially the same product but with plastic, such as lunch boxes and reusable bottles. This encourages the habit of sending perfectly usable products to the landfill; throwing something out even though it works perfectly fine and could be reused many times is a dangerous game to start. This is similar to what happened when Marie Kondo’s Netflix show aired, many people were throwing out and donating usable textiles that charity shops became overwhelmed and a large amount of clothing was sent to landfill – according to the Waste & Resources Action Programme almost one-third of UK clothing gets sent to landfill. To sum up, wait until something is no longer of service before replacing it.

I’m certainly not 100% plastic free, and probably never will be; there are some things that currently can’t be avoided such as medications and contraceptives. However, I’m taking my time and making small steps, which although may seem like it’s not going to have an impact on that state of our planet; if everyone started taking small steps it could make a massive difference to protecting the natural environment.

Currently, I’ve cut my single use carrier bag usage and am working my way through swapping all of my toiletries for plastic free options, such as shampoo bars, a bamboo toothbrush and low waste deodorant. I hope to work my way to plastic free grocery shops in the future, but I know that if I try and push myself too far and all at once, I’ll end up falling short.