Plastic-free living – what’s it all about? And why is it so worthwhile?
Let me tell you my story. In June 2012, I came across a challenge to refuse single-use plastic for a month (Plastic Free July). I signed up, but didn’t think much about it. I felt that I was pretty sustainable already. After all, I diligently recycled, took my own bags to the shops, bought eco-friendly washing up liquid… Surely that was enough?
Anyway, how much plastic could I really be using?
Then I went to see the documentary Bag it! as part of the Plastic Free July launch, and I understood for the first time the issues around plastic, and what a problem it has become.
That evening, when I went home, I actually realised how much plastic was in my life. I might be taking my own bags to the store, but almost everything I was buying was packaged in plastic. My kitchen cupboards, fridge, bathroom shelves and pretty much everywhere else in my house was filled with plastic.
And I’d never even noticed.
Now I had noticed, I was determined to do something about it. I couldn’t just ignore what I knew, and I couldn’t stand by and do nothing. I decided that I wasn’t going to give up plastic for a month. I was going to give up plastic (or reduce as much as I could)… forever.
That was the start of my journey. An inspiring, challenging, motivating, at-times-overwhelming and infinitely rewarding journey.
Want to join this journey too?
Why Live Plastic-Free?
These are just a few of the myriad of reasons to live without plastic:
Most plastic is made from fossil fuels.
The plastic we use today will outlive us.
It litters and pollutes, and harms wildlife by entanglement and ingestion.
Plastic isn’t truly recycled, it’s downcycled.
Most plastic is unnecessary – designed for one use, or designed for the dump.
It’s bad for our health.
Of course, it’s not all bad. There are so many positive reasons and benefits to choosing to live without plastic:
Eating better and being healthier – less processed, packet food and more real food.
Embracing creativity – for me this has meant learning to cook, problem solving, and writing.
Learning new skills.
Being part of a community of like-minded people and doing something bigger than ourselves, that benefits the planet.
Living plastic-free changed my life – and for the better. Here’s a summary of the positive impact of our first 12 months plastic-free living.
Read about why I think quitting plastic is an opportunity.
Learn More About the Issues with Plastic
I don’t like to dwell on the problems, but having an understanding of the problem is what spurred me to take action and change the way I live.
Rather let all the things we can’t change overwhelm us, it is much more energising to focus on the things that we can change, and look for solutions that we can be a part of. For me, that starts with the personal decisions that I make every single day.
- Read about some of the limitations on recycling.
- More specific information about the origins of plastic and the particular issues of plastic recycling.
- There are many types of plastic, and they all have different properties and different recyclability. A guide to what the numbers mean, whether they can be recycled, and what they are commonly recycled into.
- BPA – What it is and how to avoid it.
- Phthalates and health.
- Microbeads and microplastics.
Getting Started with Plastic Free Living
If you’re just starting out on your plastic-free living journey, you might find these articles useful:
- Find out how to line your rubbish bin without a plastic bag (we can talk about composting a little later)
- Tips for a successful transition to plastic-free living
- If you’re worried about the plastic-free police coming to get you because you mistakenly picked up a box that was plastic-lined, you might find these tips reassuring.
- After the kitchen, the bathroom is where we accumulate most of our plastic. Here’s a guide to reducing plastic in the bathroom – both part one and part two.
Thee articles are three of my most helpful, and they regularly get shared on social media.
- Plastic is everywhere – but did you have any idea that it is in teabags?! We’re not just talking about those silky ones either, we’re talking about those regular paper rectangular ones too.
- Bulk stores definitely make plastic-free living easier, but if you don’t have a bulk store near you, don’t be disheartened. Here’s some tips for living plastic-free without bulk stores close by.
- We’re so used to plastic storage, but it;s possible to do without. Here’s how to store food (in the pantry, the fridge and the freezer) without using plastic.
Next Steps for Plastic Free Living
Want to take things to the next level?
If you’re ready to make the jump from plastic-free to zero waste, have a look at my zero waste page.
Dive in and read all of my other content. You can find every blog post I’ve ever written here.
Read one of my books about living with less waste.
If you’re going travelling, you might find these articles useful. Here’s how I avoided bottled water and avoided single-use plastic whilst travelling in Asia, and how I avoid plastic on flights. Travelling abroad isn’t something I do often (this was in 2014) but my family live overseas, so it isn’t something I can avoid completely.
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