I remember watching a programme a few years ago now about the renovation of Big Ben. During the works they found a time capsule that had been left by the people who’d done a previous renovation, around the 1950’s if my memory serves me correctly. The thing that I remember from the time capsule was the celebration of this fantastic new material they were starting to use – plastic!
How times have changed! Now, just 60-70 years later we are trying desperately to get rid of plastic in everything as we realise how bad it is for the environment.
I will post on Instagram this week with different ideas for reducing your plastic use but in this blog I want to just talk about a couple of things that I’ve been focusing on recently.
6 months ago I moved house. Having left the marital home previously I was starting from scratch in many respects, so there was quite a lot I had to buy. I tried, where I could, to not buy plastic, so I have wooden coat hangers, wooden pegs, bamboo bowls in the kitchen to name a few things. However, I recognise that lots of people have a lot of plastic things already (as do I).
The key problem with plastic is that it doesn’t biodegrade so it’s the throwing it away that causes an issue. This is why single-use plastic is a big problem. If you have something that’s plastic that you can keep using – for it’s original use or for an alternative/second use – then keeping it and using it is absolutely the right thing to do. Don’t think you need to throw all your plastic clothes pegs out and replace them with wooden ones, that’s definitely not the right thing to do, but buying wooden if you need more pegs at any time, is.
That’s what I’ve been focussing on with everything recently, but particularly with plastic – reusing it in another way so it doesn’t have to be thrown away. It also saves money – bonus!
The other thing that I’ve become aware of over the last few months is how our weekly clothes washing is contributing to the micro-plastics in the ocean. Unless you are wearing all natural, organic fibre clothes your clothes will contain plastic and when they are washed the plastic leaks out of them into the water and eventually off to the oceans. I am most definitely not an expert in this area (you can read an article from Friends of the Earth here) but what I’ve gathered is that there are a few simple things we can do to help reduce our contribution of micro-fibres to the oceans (aside of buying natural fibre clothes in future).
Firstly, only put your clothes in the washing basket when they really need washing rather than by habit every time you’ve worn them once. The less you wash the less you are emitting micro-fibres and unless your clothes have got dirty or you’ve had a particularly sweaty day, hanging them up to air over-night might well be all they need for a couple of wears.
Secondly, when you do wash them use a low temperature – thought to help reduce the release of micro-fibres – and a slower spin – less aggravation of the fabric will help reduce micro-fibre loss. Also air-drying on the line is better than tumble-drying (less aggravation of the fibres).
The third thing to note is that it is thought that fibres lose most of the micro-plastics in the first few washes, so that’s another reason to not keep buying new clothes (there’s a whole other blog on fast fashion here).
I love to hear what you’ve learnt about plastic and how you’re reducing your plastic footprint on the world.