Imagine if we were as concerned about airing what’s lurking in our weekly rubbish bins as we are our dirty laundry? Because really, what’s lurking in our dirty laundry is hardly going to affect anyone but ourselves and the truth is that what is lurking in my rubbish bin not only has the potential to affect everyone currently living on the planet, but every generation born on this planet for at least 10 generations to come. It’s a pretty insane phenomenon that we are so cavalier with a material that never truly decomposes. Every single toothbrush, straw, earbud and plastic based tampon or nappy ever used by your family going back to the 1940’s still exists in some form on the planet today…. eeeeeeeek! It’s not a thrilling or inconvenient reality but it’s a truth we can’t ignore.
And so, while a campaign like #PlasticFreeJuly is awesome beyond measure in the education and passion it is evoking in our communities to ditch the reusables, I’m asking you with every fibre in my bones to start looking beyond reusable plastics like water bottles, coffee cups, straws and bags.
Yes, it’s a no-brainer that if you are still using a plastic straw that you really are very uncool and don’t deserve to be invited out anywhere (I’m only kind of joking) but it’s time we started looking a little deeper into the plastic problem too. And I say we, because my family and I are nowhere near close enough to only consuming the amount of plastic that can fit into a glass jar at the end of every month, let alone year. But with some simple changes we have made a massive dent in our planetary plastic contribution, and apart from feeling more and more empowered with every step we take, there have been many genuine and surprising benefits from becoming more plastic savvy too.
And these are they:
- WE ECO-BRICK OUR PLASTIC WASTE
While not a complete solution to the fact that our planet is drowning in plastic; these babies are mind-blowingly elegant in their simplicity and have the potential to make a significant difference to our trash issues. If you haven’t already made one, just do it. Because a switch will go on in your noodle when you stuff and stuff and stuff more plastic waste into the bottle and find there is still room for more. And while you’re stuffing you start becoming more aware of where you are getting most of your waste. And when you are done stuffing you are going to be blown away by how much less waste your household has created. Just do it. Pretty please.
Apart from the fact that eco-bricks make for innovative building material, by eco-bricking plastics into a bottle you are making a significant difference to preventing those plastics contained in the bottle to breaking down and generating further toxins and methane gases. By sealing the bottle the degradation of plastic becomes almost impossible. It is the degradation of plastic that is causing, in part, so much damage to our sea and birdlife. Because of the incredible longevity of PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate), eco-bricking effectively traps the plastic indefinitely into the bottle.
It’s really a no-brainer. Get stuffing. Get your kids stuffing and get your friends stuffing. Get your schools and churches and yoga studios stuffing. Tell your family to get stuffing, and your neighbours too.
- WE GROW OUR OWN GREENS
While we are very lucky to live close to the sea, our erf is relatively small (750m2) and not very well lit (at all actually.) And so I have had to embrace container gardening with a vengeance after our renovations were completed this year. In just one season we have enough lettuce, spinach, pok choi, rocket and herbs to never have to buy any salad or juicing type greens again. I also have over 20 tomato plants growing in various spots (even a few hanging containers) as well as granadilla, orange, lemon and lime trees that should hopefully gift us with fruit next year. We have strawberries and edible flowers growing, I have just planted watermelon and are about to start planting butternut, gem squash, onions and sweet corn in our fabulous grow pods in our top balcony.
- WE SHOP AT MARKETS, SUPPORT PLASTIC-FREE RETAILERS AND BUY BULK
We have found a stunning little market that is open twice a week and not only are ALL our perishables now organic and plastic-free but we are actually saving cash on our groceries, too.
- WE MAKE OUR OWN CONDIMENTS, BREW OUR OWN KOMBUCHA AND MUCH MORE
From flavoured nori sheets to pesto, hummus, rusks and our much-loved kombucha we are getting down and dirty in the kitchen and loving it!
- WE NO LONGER BUY BEAUTY PRODUCTS PACKAGED IN PLASTIC
The filters on Faithful to Nature support us with this. We use bamboo toothbrushes, plastic-free earbuds, cloth nappies and biodegradable disposables, biodegradable and reusable wet wipes, stainless steel razors, bamboo hair brushes and wooden combs, natural sponges and loofas and I VERY proudly use the goddess cup.
- WE NO LONG BUY ANY PLASTIC UTENSILS
- WE GIFT PLASTIC-FREE ITEMS
From fresh Kombucha Scoby Hotels (to brew their own); to fresh hummus; fresh basil and lettuce leaves; clothes our boys have grown out of; propagated succulents and other cool hanging house-plants and unused gifts we have received (yes this is acceptable) we are having fun ensuring that our gifts don’t cost the earth.
- WE BUY LESS
We have truly begun to appreciate that less is more like never before. I now have a rule when I want to buy something new and that is to wait. To wait as long as I can to ensure I really need it. It has been really interesting to observe that most times I don’t actually need it and my eyes continue to widen to the bad consumption habits most of us are stuck in.
- WE REUSE, REPURPOSE AND SUPPORT THE SECOND-HAND INDUSTRY
From toys to clothes, the second-hand market in South Africa is thriving and there is certainly no lack of choice or luxury when kitting our kids out. Find out more about creating a more sustainable wardrobe here.
- WE ARE WORKING TO BECOME EVEN HAPPIER
Because as I am learning each day, unhappiness is expensive. And this is probably the most significant realisation of all – when we are not happy, we consume. And when we consume to fill a gap, we waste.
The outcome is this:
- We are saving tons of cash.
- We are spending more time together.
- We are eating even better.
- We are living much more creatively.
- Our kids are so much more enlightened and educated, and is that not what every parent wants?