For a long time when I first started Being PALL – Plastic A Lot Less – in 2008 I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall. I felt my efforts were futile. I´m just one person, what difference do I make? Everywhere I looked we´re drowning in plastic…
In 2008 the buzz of plastic pollution was not as it is today. There were not many of us on the planet activity refusing plastic, it was at times a lonely endeavour, and there were many times I wondered why I kept going… Many!
Refusing plastics means you don´t have much to show for it.
Then, in 2011 I was tallying it up in my head just how much I refused when I was out food shopping once. In just that one food shop. A lot, bags of it… To give you an idea, this is me in a before shot:
I´d been Being PALL 3 years at that point, imagine what I´d refused in all that time?
Obviously, I had too much time on my hands, so I sat down and did a tally. It was rough so I underestimated it. Wow! I saw, my efforts weren´t futile after all, far from it. The amount I´d refused WAY exceeded my expectations. Doing this exercise meant I started to feel empowered, refusing all that plastic felt good. Also, I no longer had to bang my head against a wall, which in itself was a relief.
I got in touch with Beth Terry of My Plastic Free Life the leading blog and now book on Plastic Free Living. She blogged about it and titled it:
Michelle has refused over 10,000 plastic items! How many have you refused?
10,000 items. Seams like a lot doesn´t it. How´s that possible? When you start looking around, if it´s not made of plastic, it´s packaged in plastic, if not we put it in plastic. I´ve given you an idea in the tally below. I´ve been refusing plastic ever since 2008. As one person I´ve easily double that figure.
Once you change simple habits and start refusing SUPs – single use plastics, it´s incredible how much you don´t use or need.
So keep motivated, yes you may just be one person, you may be one family but – over time – it´s easy to refuse a mountain of plastic. If not a mountain, a hill at least, a big hill at that if you keep going!
Maybe put a quick list on the fridge so you can make a tally to see your efforts add up.
These are literally a few ways to avoid plastics. Once you start you´ll find there´s many more. Try not to get overwhelmed and do it over night. Or you can, I did, but I wouldn´t advise it!
I´ve listed a few examples from the post below the pictures with the link to Beth´s post.
- Plastic bags (including, produce bags, bin bags, bread bags, bags to put the bags in bags….) @ 25 per week = 4,000 Canvas bags, old cardboard boxes, paper bags, your hands! For the bin, if you can, compost. If not, wrap veg cuttings and meesy rubbish in old newspaper, put that direct in the bin. OK, sometimes you may have to wash your bin out more, you have to take the rough with the smooth!
- Bottled water. 5L bottles (for 6 months of the year while living in a camper van) @ 4 a week = 288 bottles, 288 bottle tops, and the plastic that wraps the bottles together. A glass drum, that I think was intended to marinate olives. Filled from taps.
- Small bottled water out and about @ 2 a week = 312 bottles, 312 tops. I bought a Klean Kanteen & fill it from the tap. (See my travel post if you´re somewhere you can´t drink the water).
- Shampoo, shower gel, conditioner 1 of each every 3 months = 36 LUSH provide everything naked. Shop in store or online if the smell bothers you.
- Plates, crockery at events. Countless!!! At one event alone I´d refused about 10 items and we have loads of outdoor events here. I will talk about this in my next post; partying while you PALL.
- Straws approx. @ 3 a week = 500 (sometimes you get 2 in one glass) When I order my drink, I ask for it with out a straw. (usually twice or they normally forget as auto straw pilot kicks in. I was a waitress guilty of it).
- Boxed wine (i.e. plastic bagged wine with plastic tap) @ 2 a month = 72 Good ol´ bottles of wine. Meant we drunk less to, probably not a bad thing…
- Fruit punnets: @ 4 a week = 624 I opted for loose fruit and veg. If there isn´t a choice, like blueberries for example I don´t bother with them, I survive!
- Pasta bags: @ 2 a month = 72 (the boxes still have a small plastic window, but it´s far less)
- Crisp packets: @ 3 per week = 468 I still eat crisps, the Portuguese ones are too good. Now it´s a rare treat, maybe once every 2 months, rather than 3 packs a week like before. Which is probably better for me to!
- Peanut butter @ 1 a month = 36 Found it in glass, locally made.
- Tomato sauce @ 2 a month = 72 Purchase the glass bottles. (and it´s actually tomato sauce, rather than that light red runny stuff…) (not sure why I was getting though so much ketup then?!)
- Butter tub @ 1 a month = 36 (though I´m sure I eat more butter, but would rather not admit it to myself!) Get it in paper. Use a butter dish. (or an old plastic one if you don´t have one yet).
- Tampons. 3 a day. 7 days of a month = 756 I now use a mooncup
- Clothes. All clothes are delivered to the shops individually bagged and a lot of them are made from plastic fibres. I´ve not bought any new clothes since 2008. (A big change from my Student cheap high street days!) How many items in 3 years??? A lot! Approx 4 items per month = 144 Now I go to charity shops, bootsales and have lovely friends’ hand-me-downs.
Also, lets not forget, once you start refusing plastics other people see and who knows where that leads…
I´ve said it before, it´s cheesy but it´s true; When we PALL ourselves, we help to PALL our world and our oceans, so don´t get disheartened. Let me know what you´re doing, I´d love to hear from you!
Every refusal adds up. Happy PALL-ing!