How we can help with the devastation of plastic
There is a lot in the media recently about the devastation that plastic is having on our environment especially in the oceans, there is no getting away from it, it's in the news and it's all over social media. Even as recent as this month The Queen has banned plastic bottles and straws from all of the royal estates.
So there seems to be no better time than the present to start making a few changes to the impact that we have on the environment, I've not gone all eco-friendly crazy banning plastic from the house but I am trying to be more eco conscious in products that I buy. We recycle a lot in this household and every month our brown bin that contains glass bottles, cans and plastic bottles etc is always pretty full. Whenever I put it out for the bin men I feel good that so much waste will be recycled and I feel like giving myself a pat on the back but the truth is that often it all that gets dumped into the landfill anyway from 'contamination'. This is very saddening to hear, I recently read a news article about us selling containers full of tonnes of recyclable plastic to China or Japan I think it was but it wasn't the right kind of plastic that they thought it was so now it can't be recycled and there is tonnes of this now dumped over there going into a landfill as we don't have the means to recycle it in this country. Sadly again it's just the same story with paper and cardboard too. We see our recycle bins emptied but what percent of that actually gets reused and made into something else I feel that it is very low a lot more than we would like to believe so what can you do to help?.
The easiest way I found was to change the way we take out a packed lunch, whether it be to school or work there is many small changes you can make that will save on plastic and cardboard, here are 5 ways you can make a change:
- Buy a reusable stainless steel bottle to take drinks out in, I use the brand Klean Kanteen as they come in all different shapes, colours and sizes and they are perfect for all of the family. We have had ours for over 2 years now and they are still as good as new. One of the best things about stainless steel is that they don't hold any smells or flavours like plastic does. You can buy insulated ones if you wish to take out hot drinks and they come with many different caps. I bought my daughter the kids sippy cup 2 years ago and now she has outgrown it but the bottle is still in great condition so instead of sending it to the landfill I just bought a new sports cap for a couple of pounds and it's good to go for many years to come. Plastic is also full of toxins which can leak into our food and drinks which can be detrimental to our health which is another reason that I prefer stainless steel.
- Take a reusable lunch box - My daughter has a Yumbox which we have had for about 3 years and again it's still going strong after many uses and washes. To save on waste with the shopping I might buy like one big bag of a snack that she likes and put that directly into her lunchbox rather than buying separate little packets of everything which saves on plastic waste. The Yumbox holds yogurt directly and doesn't leak so again you can just buy one larger tub to split it which also saves you money. I've recently ordered myself a stainless steel Lunchbots lunchbox to take to work which I estimate will last me the next 5 years no problem so just think of all the waste I can save over that time from sandwich wrap etc.
- If you don't want a lunchbox and you usually just put your lunch directly into a cooler bag I'm guessing you wrap your sandwich in clingfilm or foil?. There are some other alternatives such as 'wax sandwich wrap', it doesn't have to be expensive and again it can be used daily for many years and can be washed at the end of day ready to use again tomorrow. It also comes in many different sizes and can be used for fruit or other snacks too.
- Reusable straws - I recently paid £4.50 for one reusable Klean Kanteen straw off eBay and even I thought that I must be crazy! You can buy a pack of them for about £10 which works out a lot more cost effective but I just wanted to try one. We go to a local play centre every week and my daughter always insists on using a straw with her drink and after all the bad press that straws have been getting lately I thought that I should change to reusable ones. I have used the reusable straw quite a bit already as I also use it at work so I'm glad that I purchased it and would like to buy a couple more. Stainless steel is very robust and doesn't rust so I know that it will last for years. You can buy unbranded ones on ebay for not much more than £1, and you can also buy them made out of bamboo.
- The easiest step yet is to pack leftovers for lunch, If you don't usually have any leftovers then you could just make a slightly larger portion of whatever your making and then use it for lunch, doing this also saves me money. If you are worried about how your going to heat it up at work then I recommend buying a Thermos or other stainless steel insulated food container. I have a small one designed for food that comes with it's own removable spoon. I heat up my leftovers in the morning and then put it in my thermos and it will stay hot for up to 4 hours. This has kept me happy at desk during this cold winter so I've been grateful of having some hot soup rather than a sandwich to eat at work, I've also taken pasta dishes and curry in it, it doesn't just have to be soup.
So there you have it 5 easy switches you can make to help to save the planet, imagine if we all did this how much better off the environment would be. With lunchboxes and stainless steel bottles they don't always have to be expensive if you look around. I think I paid about £14 for my daughters sippy Klean Kanteen 2 years ago and if I work it out price per use it definitely pays for itself in no time at all. I got fed up of paying £5 per time for plastic leaky sippy cups that got moldy within months it used to drive me insane but the Klean Kanteens are very easy to clean so no mold insight and now I would never look back. - Jodie x