We’ve all read the articles regarding our current unsustainable consumption of plastic and we’re aware of the facts. Plastic is polluting our oceans. At the current rate, by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. It’s finding its way into the food chain. 18% of tuna and swordfish and 90% of the world’s seabirds have fragments of plastic in their stomach and it’s not biodegradable so we’re seeing washing up liquid bottles from the 1950s floating up on beaches with the text still legible. But, with such a ubiquitous material how do we curb our personal reliance on it and try to make a difference on a larger scale?
Lauren Davies is the founder of Heka, a design consultancy focused on sustain- ability and wellbeing. Having previously worked as a set designer she began to feel increasingly frustrated with the wasteful nature of the industry. This changing mindset prompted a desire to retrain and find a more meaningful career path. Her own waste-reduction journey started when she went on to study Design Products at the Royal College of Arts (RCA) and began to deeply reconnect with nature. As part of the process, she began to document the changes she was making and how she was reducing her reliance on plastic. The feedback she received online was over-whelmingly positive with lots of people wanting tips and advice on how they too could reduce the use of plastic in their own domestic lives. Lauren is passionate about making small changes to try and form long-lasting habits. For her, sharing her beliefs in a gentle and approachable way is key to inspiring change. As she says, “No one is perfect and making positive change is an ongoing process.” Here she shares ways you can reduce plastic in five areas of your life—all easy, all relatable and all achievable.
Transform your kitchen sink by replacing plastic dish brushes and vegetable brushes with wooden ones. Not only is this a sustainable option but also makes your sink area look more attractive. I use Redecker dish brushes that have detachable and exchangeable heads. The old heads can be composted. Get rid of yellow and green scouring sponges and jay cloths. Both degrade quickly and end up smelling horrible. You can now get scourers made from coconut fibre and biodegradable sponge cloths. I personally choose machine- washable options such as cotton cloths and cotton-covered natural sponges. UnSponge does brilliant ones, made from 100% cotton with a waffle weave base, triple flannel core and a cotton cover. When ma ing these changes, avoid microfibre products at all costs, as their tiny plastic fibres still get into and pollute water streams. Instead, ensure that you choose are made from natural fibres so can be composted when they become unusable.
Overhaul your plastic shopping habits by using tote bags or bags for life. The lighter and smaller to pack down, the better as they are easier to fit in your bag or pocket and therefore less cumbersome. Find a way of remembering to always take them out with you. I try to put them straight back in my handbag after I have unpacked them at home. Along with these, buy or make some smaller drawstring produce bags that you can use to package any loose produce available, without resorting to using disposable plastic bags. I use mine for fruit and veg, grains, nuts, cereals, pulses, sugar and salt and much more. This also means you can avoid fruit and veg pre-packaged in plastic containers wherever possible. I have some small organic muslin produce bags that I bought but have seen them made out of mesh for fruit and veg and even old bed sheets.
Changing your sanitary wear can not only have a positive effect on the environment but also be healthier for your body, more liberating and so much cheaper too. A Moon Cup is no longer something to turn your nose up at. Attitudes are shifting and once-hesitant friends I have recommended silicone cups to have never turned back. I have also found that my period cramps have eased through their use. For those with a very heavy flow, there are alternative brands that offer larger cup sizes and for extra reassurance, I sometimes team mine up with a washable panty- liner or sanitary towel. These are also so much softer and less irritating than traditional plastic-laced towels and can be efficiently machine-washed. Other options include knickers such as Thinx which use material technology to hold a surprising amount of blood and can be easily washed. For those who find these changes too radical, just changing to organic cotton sanitary wear is a positive move.
Your dressing table and make-up bag are both varied sources of plastic waste. From plastic-packaged cotton pads to plastic cotton buds, it is possible to swap out these items easily and successfully. I have tried many washable cotton rounds but have found the cotton jersey and cotton velour ones to be the most efficient and easiest to wash. I bought mine from Honour Your Flow, who use scraps from their washable sanitary range to make them. I find this to be a lovely sustainable bonus. Although disposable make-up wipes are very convenient, both the packaging and wipes themselves often contain plastic and are not biodegradable. Try replacing these with a refreshing face wash or polish that removes all make-up residue and can be used with a washable face muslin. I find my skin feels far cleaner using this method too. Finally, look for cotton buds that are made from paper pulp rather than plastic.
EATING ON THE MOVE
It is hard to deny the convenience or pleasure of eating on the move. How- ever, a few items can help to make it a less wasteful pursuit. Namely; a reusable water bottle, coffee cup and spork. There are many brands doing each of these. I have found Kleen Kanteen water bottles to be very reliable. There are fun and colourful but bulkier reusable coffee cups such as those by Frank Green that are leak-proof, or collapsible ones by companies such as Pokito, which are lightweight and concertina down small enough to fit in a jacket pocket. Coffee shops are usually very good at giving them a rinse out if they need a clean first. Lastly, I always carry a bamboo spork in my bag to replace throwaway cutlery. If you want to go one stage further, Elephant Box does a great range of stainless-steel containers to use for takeaway meals.