Well, I thought I’d start with the hot topic of plastic waste. Yes, it happens to be a personal beef of mine, but I have to hold my hands up and admit it’s only been the last few years it’s become an issue I’m passionate about. For years I was blissfully unaware of the problem. I chose to keep my head firmly buried in the sand when it came to such issues, but it’s now a problem that can’t be ignored.
I think my journey of discovery began a few years ago, when I found myself working for my local council in the UK. I was given the responsibility of collecting garden waste from small villages in the area. I found myself visiting the local landfill and was astonished by what I saw. I’ve also got my husband to thank for opening my eyes to the damage we’ve been inflicting on our planet for years.
Thankfully, I’m not the only one who’s awareness has been raised. Plastic pollution is an issue that’s now openly discussed, whether you’re watching TV, listening to the radio, reading a magazine or surfing the web. Even Glastonbury Festival goers were treated to a surprise appearance from Sir David Attenborough on the final day. If you don’t know who Sir David is and the cause he’s been supporting for many years, you must have been living in a cave for the last few decades.
Some of the plastic pollution facts that have led me to rethink the way I live my life include:
· Since the 1950s, around 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide. If you can’t picture how much that is it’s the equivalent to the weight of more than 800,000 Eiffel Towers. How much of that has been recycled? A paltry 9%.
· According to figures from the National Geographic, 73% of the litter that’s found on beaches is plastic. It comes in the form of bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, polystyrene and cigarette butts.
· 1 million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute.
· 2 million plastic bags are used worldwide, every minute.
· More than 1.1 million seabirds and animals are killed every year by ingesting plastic.
So what can you do about the crisis that is unfolding?
5 Lifestyle Changes I’ve Made That You Can Make Too
For many years, recycling was touted as the solution for the plastic waste problem. It’s not the answer at all. Reducing the amount of plastic you use is the only way forward. Here are some of the changes I’ve made in an attempt to reduce the amount of plastic in my life.
1. Reusable grocery bags – in many countries, certainly here in Bulgaria, plastic bags are given away free with every purchase. Even charging a small amount for them doesn’t seem to put many people off. One of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of plastic in your life is to take your own bags when you go shopping.
2. No more bottled water – when you go anywhere take a refillable bottle with you. I’ve been very lucky in that I came across a company based here in Bulgaria, NaturalLeaf, that makes water containers from the processing of wheat. They currently only sell to customers in Bulgaria but will shortly be making their products available worldwide. Not only have we got a water bottle each. We’ve also got picnic containers for carrying food when we’re out and about or sat by the pool.
3. Use shampoo bars – I tried not washing my hair but just couldn’t stick with it. I overcame the problem of plastic shampoo bottles by finding a local producer of shampoo bars.
4. Buy boxes instead of bottles – wherever possible buy products that are packaged in boxes rather than plastic bottles. Washing detergent, fruit juice and milk are just a few examples.
5. Buy local fruit and veg – we’re very lucky here in Bulgaria because there are local fruit and veg markets in most towns. You can even buy produce on the roadside if you want to.
Reducing the amount of plastic in your life is something you have to do, for the future of the planet, its wildlife and for generations to come.