If like me you’ve watched the first two BBC1 programmes on the prevalence of and environmental impact of single-use plastic, you’ll be wondering what more you can do to reduce your own part in this horror. (If you haven’t already seen the programmes, I’d strongly recommend them – they are powerful but also practical, looking at what action ordinary people can take and hoping for progress not perfection. Here’s a link to help you: War on Plastic.)
Over the past few years I’ve managed to develop a few new habits to help reduce my own use of single-use plastics (and paper). I routinely carry around and use the following:
- Reusable cup for hot drinks
- Pouch containing cloth napkin, knife fork and spoon set, and ice cream spoon
- Plastic box – useful for unplanned fresh food purchases, or leftovers when eating out
- A plastic water bottle 500ml
These days so many places give a discount when you use your own cup that it has probably gone quite a way towards paying for itself in the year that I’ve had it.
I already had the cutlery from when I used to take my packed lunches into work. I kept the ice cream spoon one time when we were out, and just reuse it whenever needed. I bought the pouch in a charity shop and washed it. The napkin is one of a set I made several decades ago. I bought the plastic box as being just the right size for what I wanted, but could probably have found something similar among what I already had (or in a charity shop).
The water bottle (not shown) was given to me about 10 years ago when we did an overnight train journey from Paris to Munich. It is very sturdy, and has been used most days in that decade.
I also have a thermos flask for taking hot drinks out with me (on walks, picnics, train journeys).
I’ll write some other time about other changes we’ve made and are making at home to reduce the amount of single use plastic we consume. The small things detailed here have already enabled us to avoid a lot of unnecessary single use plastic, and will continue to do so for many years to come. But we’ve still got a long way to go.
The key thing I think is not to allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the size of the challenge. We just all need to start somewhere. I’ve found that the more I change, the easier it becomes. Changes that at first were an effort just become the new normal.
If you want to read more on this subject, I’d really recommend reading Zero Waste Chef’s blog – she is an absolute inspiration, and has all sorts of really practical and easy tips and suggestions. As she rightly says, what we need is a whole lot of people doing something, not a very few people who are perfect.