My Plastic Footprint

posted in: The Real Life of Plastic | 0

So much plastic!

Okay, so I needed to stop and look at my plastic footprint, just how much plastic is coming into my house, and what can I do to reduce it. Since starting Secret Life of Plastic I have been trying to throw as little plastic in the bin as possible, knowing the facts about the recycling system I am really conscious about adding to the problem. I try to find a use for whatever plastic I do buy upcycling it into something new (see my Portfolio). But my recycling bin is still filling up, along with my spare room, shed, attic, and numerous garden containers!! Where’s it all coming from??

Seriously, where is it all coming from?

Once you become aware of plastic you then realise everything is wrapped and packed in it, I now find it infuriating.
Milk doesn’t come in glass bottles anymore, it comes in either plastic or tetra pack containers.
Our tap water here is never great for drinking so we have to buy bottled water.
Fruit and veg are mostly wrapped and packed, along with nearly all food products.
Shampoo and toothpaste- again all in plastic.
Cleaning products are all in plastic.
Kids going back to school – again so much plastic from pens to math sets and the covers of all the books and notebooks.

Ways to reduce your plastic footprint

So I have to accept that in many ways trying to live a completely plastic-free life in a small town in the west of Ireland with very little money and a family to look after is going to be really difficult on my budget, but I can at least try to reduce as much as possible.

  • I do always carry my own reusable shopping bag.
  • On the rare occasion I get a takeaway coffee out I need to remember to bring my own takeaway cup (I have one but often forget to carry it).
  • Saying NO to plastic straws, forks etc when getting takeaway food.
  • Try to buy my fruit and veg loose where possible. It’s not possible with all of it but I can buy onions, carrots, potatoes, bananas, broccoli and garlic un-wrapped in the supermarket, I’m sure if I shop around I can find more. There is a Farmers Market across the other side of town so I need to check it out.
  • I buy 2 litres of milk in a plastic container but I use all parts of the container in my lamps and sculptures so no part of it goes in the bin.
  • Purchasing a water filter system would be a good idea, at the minute I buy the largest size bottle of water I can, 5litres, and use refillable bottles. (I also keep the 5litre containers and re-use
  • To really go plastic free you would have to be a really good cook; able to make things from scratch and cut out pre-packed processed food…. I’m going to have to work on that one…it could take a while!
  • Shampoo, soap, toothpaste, cleaning products – I’m going to have to look into these and see what I can do, some of these things can be home-made I’m sure.

Why am I doing this again?

I believe if we were all made deal with the rubbish ourselves we would soon cut down. It is so easy to not think about it at all. We put our rubbish in the bin and somebody else deals with it from there. But the fact is it is no longer being dealt with very well, globally we are struggling to cope with the 300 million tonnes of new plastic produced each year (for more on this see here).
Our global bins are full, it’s getting a bit ridiculous. We need to make an effort for our kids and the generations to come after us. I don’t like it when my teenager leaves their room in a mess, so I refuse to live the rest of my life without making an effort to clean up after myself!

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