Updated: Apr 13, 2019
It is a very tall order and a bit overwhelming to begin living #plasticfree. I decided to map my journey, tell you what I have discovered, what works for me and what doesn't!
Fantastic plastic (no longer considered so) is indeed an amazing material: flexible, hygienic, adaptable. It's hard to find substitutes, which is why we find it so difficult to replace. I'll start with trying to cut out plastic in some everyday things: toothpaste for example. I was worried that all toothpaste contains microbeads. Did you know that on 9 January 2018, the British government banned microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics and cleaning products in England, including toothpaste? Apparently, microbeads were found embedded in people's gums! Over 300,000 people signed a petition and voila! All bow to consumer pressure! Just one shower alone is thought to send 100,000 microbeads down the drain and into the ocean, causing serious harm to marine life. The British Government’s ban was praised by campaigners as one of the toughest in the world. It will prevent billions of microbeads ending up in the ocean every year.
I was delighted to discover this. Why toothpaste and rinse-off products needed to contain microbeads is beyond me. I haven't missed them. Have you?
Microbeads are extremely small pieces of plastic, especially used in personal care products, cosmetics, and detergents. A single bottle of facial scrub can contain as many as 300,000 microbeads. Microbeads are particularly dangerous to our oceans as they are so small as to be unable to be filtered by our sewage systems. These hugely add to our ocean's pollution, so it's great news that these have been banned. People power works! Lets keep it up.
My next issue was to try to get our favourite toothpaste out of plastic toothpaste tubes or at least, find an alternative. Much more difficult! I found a great link here to a Zero Waste blog on the subject. Apparently, Colgate has a deal with tetra-cycle so their containers can be recycled. Pump action containers are made of a different type of plastic and are apparently easier to recycle. Seems like there are so many variables and no standard issue. If manufacturers use plastic, they must also be willing/able to totally recycle it. Let's push for standardisation so that recycling is easy peasy, so simple that my 2 yr old grandson can do it! According to Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and just about every other environmental agency, we are at
..."a critical point in the history of humanity. If we don’t stop polluting, the impact on our planet will be irreparable. This week scientists found thousands of plastic particles in samples taken from rivers and lakes across the UK, including the seemingly crystal-clear waters of the Lake District."
Microplastics concentrate toxins and carry them into our food chains. Plastic is literally infiltrating every part of the natural world.