37: What difference can one person make? Count it up…

This is the plastic question I get asked the most. ‘I’m only one person. What difference does it make if I stop using a bit of plastic?’ The truth is one person can make a huge difference. Try counting it up….

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Photo by George Becker on Pexels.com

Let’s take a look at just some of the ideas that have been posted on this blog so far and what happened when I personally made those changes:
1. Switching from liquid soap to bars of soap saved 2 plastic bottles a month (one in the bathroom, and one in the kitchen). That’s 24 bottles a year.
2. Switching from shower gel to bars of soap saved 1 plastic bottle a month. That’s 12 bottles a year.
3. Switching from laundry liquid to washing powder in a cardboard box saved one large plastic bottle a month. That’s 12 bottles a year.
4. Buying less fruit and veg in plastic bags and choosing loose options in the supermarket plus buying more fresh produce in markets saved at least 5 plastic bags a week. That’s at least 260 plastic bags a year.
5. Switching from liquid fabric softener to using white vinegar (in a glass bottle) saved one large plastic bottle a month. That’s 12 bottles a year.
6. Not buying bottled water any more, investing in a water filter jug at home and taking reusable bottles out with me saved at least 2 large plastic bottles a week. That’s at least 104 plastic bottles a year.
7. Saying ‘no’ to plastic carrier bags every time I do any kind of shopping and keeping a cloth bag with me or bags for life in the car saved at least 4 plastic carrier bags a week. That’s at least 208 plastic bags a year

24 + 12 + 12 + 260 + 12 + 104 + 208 = 632…at least!

These are just 7 of the changes I’ve made (I’ve made more) and all of them are simple, and none of them have cost me more than what I was previously spending. In fact, some of them have saved me money. But it means I have stopped at least 632 pieces of plastic from polluting the planet. Even if some of these could have been recycled (and not all of them can be) it is only possible to recycle plastic a handful of times. After that, it’s buried in the ground or ends up in the oceans. We’ve all seen on recent documentaries, just what this can cause.

If I’ve inspired just one person to make the simple changes above, then together we’ve stopped 1,264 more pieces of plastic getting out into the world. If I’ve inspired three people, then between us we’ve stopped 2,528 in one year.

Try the suggestions above for one month and then see how much emptier your plastic recycling bin is. Multiply that by 12 months to see the difference you can make in a year. Then encourage one friend and multiply that by 2….and one more friend…

Of course, the mountain of plastic continues to grow, and probably will do for some time. Do you want to be responsible for slowing that down, or for adding yet another plastic bottle to the top? And don’t wait for the corporations, the manufacturers, the supermarkets to make the change for us. They’re too slow. In any case, they will only sell us what we want to buy. That’s commerce. If we don’t buy it, they can’t sell it and, more importantly, can’t make money from it.

Still think one person can’t make a difference? So did the other 7 billion people who put their empty plastic water bottle on the mountain.

Do the maths.

addition black and white black and white chalk

Photo by George Becker on Pexels.com

20: A little less plastic on your holiday

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Photo by Nubia Navarro (nubikini) on Pexels.com

Summer is here and the thoughts of many are turning to holidays. As the planet warms up (and the evidence for global warming is just mounting and mounting) thoughts might also be turning to our environment and what we can do to protect it – hopefully. Don’t let it spoil your holiday. Incorporate a little thought for the environment into your holiday instead. I’m talking about your travel toiletries!

This year, instead of buying those little plastic travel versions of the stuff you normally use (shampoo, shower gel, etc.), which you’ll probably leave behind at the hotel / b&b / campsite / friend’s house anyway, make a decision to replace as much as possible with non-plastic alternatives.

  • A bar of soap (as cheap or luxurious as you like) instead of liquid soap and shower gel. Wrap it in a face flannel and you won’t even need a plastic soap dish. You can cut slices off as needed so one bar will easily do a whole family.
  • Some bar deodorant instead of plastic bottles and sprays. Again, you can slice off as much as you need. It lasts longer than liquid deodorant too.
  • Bar shampoo and conditioner, same as above.
  • A bamboo toothbrush – which weighs about half that of a plastic one! And some powder toothpaste, of course.

All of the replacement toiletries above are non-liquid, so it means that nobody will take them off you at the airport. This is a great way to save money, as so many holiday resorts will charge you ridiculous prices for shampoo, deodorant, shower gel and all the rest.

Happy holidays!


12: It’s getting hot in here!

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Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

As the UK, and many other parts of the world, bake under an unseasonably hot summer sun, thoughts turn to one thing: No, not barbecues and sun cream…deodorant!

Of course, this is an essential for all but the most naturally angelic-smelling people, and it goes without saying that it’s better to buy a deodorant in an aerosol tin can than a plastic one – at least a tin can be recycled. But I’ve found a better solution.

Lush Cosmetics, among others, now make a solid deodorant that looks like a bar of soap. Completely plastic-free (they wrap it in paper), lasts for ages, and it’s even vegan friendly. I’ve tried it, and it really works! It’s not an anti-perspirant – most of those contain aluminium, which is not only bad for the environment, but not great for your body either – so you will still sweat a little, but when you do, you stay smelling beautifully fresh.

Another bonus with a bar deodorant is that you can slice a piece off, wrap it in paper and take it on holiday with you without having to surrender it at the airport. Because, of course, it’s not a liquid. To use it you simply dampen it and rub it on.

Lush solid deodorants start at about £4.95, which is about twice the price of a ‘regular’ deodorant, but it easily lasts about 4 or 5 times longer (depending on normal use – you might use more if you’re a blacksmith or fire eater!) so it’s actually much cheaper in the long run. I’ve had mine since February, used it every day and still have only got through about 10% of the bar.

You can also buy crystal deodorants, mostly available from places like health food shops, but I’ve yet to find one that isn’t sheathed in plastic. So, while these are healthier for you and the ozone layer, the purpose of this blog is to eliminate single-use plastic so they’ll have to stay on the shelf for now…unless you find one in a glass container.

So, get out there, enjoy the sunshine, and stay smelling sweet without filling the world with more plastic. It can be done!