A week after World Oceans Day, two weeks since seeing the zero-waste Tedx Talk by Lauren Singer and about 3 years almost to the date since Queensland proposed (unsuccessfully) the banning of disposable bags, the subject of waste (and in particular plastic) has been consuming my thoughts. According to a study published in Sciencemag.org, more than 8 million metric tonnes of plastic trash ends up in the ocean every year which is disastrous for the unique plants and marine wildlife within that ecosystem.
This year World Oceans Day asked us to take a simple pledge and commit to not accepting disposable plastic bags for a year, a pledge I am seriously considering. In fact, rather than just avoiding disposable plastic bags, I'm considering going plastic-free for a whole year. Gulp.
THE MOST DIFFICULT GREEN LIFESTYLE CHALLENGE THUS FAR
I'm no stranger to sustainable lifestyle challenges. I have
- blitzed the 365 day Buy Nothing New challenge in 2013;
- completed the vegetarian cooking challenge in 2014; and
- so far successfully avoiding the Big Supermarkets this year.
However going plastic-free for a year seems a mammoth challenge, even for me who consciously treads lightly on the earth. I still have bad habits such as:
- accepting plastic bags (once in a blue moon but still...) when shopping and using the justification that they will be reused as bin liners;
- buying bulk vegetables wrapped in plastic (like a bag of carrots or potatoes);
- buying plastic-packaged shelf items such as rice, rice crackers, noodles etc;
- stocking up on plastic-wrapped deli items such as chicken and sausages (for my fiancé) and cheese (it is to me what chocolate is to other women); and
- buying milk in plastic bottles.
While some of you may be thinking my situation isn't as bad as I make out as I can reuse plastic bags and recycle plastic bottles, it isn't a real solution. Waste prevention is better than waste cure.
Before I can fully commit to this plastic-free challenge, I will have to determine whether I can:
- find milk in glass bottles
- forgo plastic bin liners and wash bins out weekly instead (this includes no plastic liners for the kitty litter... gross!)
- organise myself and make my own toothpaste, shampoo etc
- purchase food items using containers brought from home
- use paper packaging for meat and deli items
Luckily there are pioneering people who have successfully completed the challenge and documented their journeys. I will be using Beth Terry from My Plastic Free Life and Merrin Tait from A Year Without Buying Plastic as inspiration. Check out this wonderful Tedx Talk by Beth:
Now plastic-free may be difficult but it pales in comparison to convincing my fiancé to join in with me.
Ben has already endured my other environmental challenges; has given up Coca Cola, BP and Nestle (by default) due to my boycotting activities and is already eating mostly vegetarian (he's a meat-eater but I do most of the cooking).
So perhaps I should spend less time preparing for a plastic-free year and more time on how I'm going to broach the subject with Ben... 🙂