I like to think I’m a reasonably environmentally-conscious consumer – trying to minimise my carbon footprint where I can so as to protect and preserve the wonderful county of Sussex. But two years ago, I really caught the anti-plastic bug having suddenly realised the damage that single-use plastic is doing to our planet. The statistics are terrifying and overwhelming:
Image credit to Volodymyr Hryshchenko via Unsplash
Thankfully we are becoming increasingly aware and concerned by plastic – helped tremendously by the documentaries from international treasure and environmentalist, Sir David Attenborough and others.
How can we eliminate plastic from our lives?
It’s really very hard to do. If you look at any aspect of our lives, plastic is almost impossible to avoid; from clingfilm to cleaning products, shampoo to conditioner, and the supermarkets wrap pretty much everything in it (though they are slowly improving). Given the statistics, it almost feels like “why bother – my contribution will make such a minuscule impact”. But every little does count and if we all made changes, however small, we could really reduce our reliance on hard to recycle plastic and start to make a difference. After all, if not now, when? So, since my epiphany, I have made many changes which I share below. Hopefully, they might inspire you to make some changes too.
1. Swapped my plastic milk to glass bottle deliveries
I drink a lot of milk, so I was getting through 2 x 2 litre bottles a week.
By moving to glass bottles I have saved 104 x 2 litre plastic bottles a year. In the Horsham area of Sussex, you have a couple of options:
Whilst bottled milk is more expensive, I offset the costs through other savings I have made through changing my habits.
2. Swapped from shop-bought soup to making my own
Not only healthier for me but cheaper and saves 156 soup tubs a year.
3. Started making my own yogurt
Cheaper to make and dead easy to do.
Saving at least 52 large plastic pots a year.
Lakeland has a great range of yogurt makers – https://www.lakeland.co.uk/in-the-kitchen/preserving-and-make-your-own/yoghurt-making/
4. Stopped using clingfilm
I now use beeswax wraps, silicon stretch caps, storage tubs or simply plates over bowls.
5. Started recycling cat food pouches
I had never heard of Terracycle, but Sussex Green Living enlightened me, so now all my cat food pouches get washed and recycled.
That’s around 1,500 pouches that no longer go to landfill.
Sussex Green Living has volunteers collecting in 11 different villages/towns around Sussex and they collect 12 different single-use plastic waste streams.
For more information on what can be recycled – https://www.sussexgreenliving.co.uk/single-use/
6. Refuse and re-use before recycle
When it comes to recycling, it’s a little bit down the food chain of things we can do. Refuse and re-use come first.
- I refuse to take plastic bags when offered them at the checkout
- I don’t take the plastic bags off the roll to put my loose veg into
- I buy them loose and put them into my own bags (though I notice that Tesco in Horsham have now replaced them with paper bags!)
- And please stop buying bananas in plastic bags – it’s completely unnecessary when the loose ones sit so invitingly next to them on the shelves.
Pre-covid I took my refillable coffee mug to get takeaway drinks and I take my own reusable water bottle out. Check out the Kinderliving refill app which shows the water refilling locations in Sussex – https://www.kinderliving.co.uk/refill/
The one area where I have struggled to eliminate plastic is in the bathroom though I have managed to make a few small changes:
- I have gone back to using soap bars and thankfully there are now cardboard cotton buds so I can continue to poke my ears (I know I shouldn’t but it feels soooo good!)
- I make my own shower spray out of vinegar (50% vinegar, 50% water, and essential oil flavour to vaguely disguise the overpowering smell)
- Vinegar in general is excellent for descaling stuff and Sarsons still sell vinegar in glass bottles
- I’ve replaced my cotton single-use make-up removal pads with washable/reusable bamboo ones.
You can now even get recyclable toothbrush heads for your electric toothbrushes – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MY0N2HJ
I’ve yet to find decent shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant alternatives that don’t cost three or four times the cost of the usual ones. The same with toilet roll alternatives like Who Gives a Crap. I can’t afford to pay over double the amount for loo roll.
This local company does loads of different plastic-free goodies for bathroom, kitchen, and home in general https://www.vera-bee.com
Time for a change
Using plastic makes our lives more convenient and I have to make an effort to keep up, but I feel very strongly that we share our world and we should be treating the planet with the care and attention it deserves rather than turning it into the over used rubbish heap it’s turning into now. For more information and to share your top tips on reducing the use of plastic in your lives – do join our Stop the Old Bags page (Horsham based activists!) on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Stoptheoldbags
For more information on recycling in Sussex – https://www.sussexgreenliving.co.uk/recycling-zone/
And do check out the West Sussex recycling pages – they have lots of really useful resources for how we can minimise and improve our recycling – here is a list of all the things we can recycle in West Sussex:
And here is another useful checklist of things you can recycle by room:
Contributed by Karen Espley