Not so many years ago when someone mentioned going Eco or green as we knew it then, it instantly brought a vision to mind of some crazy hippy tree hugger who was hell bent on saving the world, but this is definitely not the case now, in fact nothing could be any further from it. As more and more media attention and television shows highlight what is happening to the world right now, its been brought to the forefront on everybody’s mind that the current plastic situation on our earth and oceans is devastating due to the damage that has been done since the 1960’s and lets face it realistically that was the real beginning of the plastic population that we know today!
I recently watched a documentary on Prince Charles (I know I am a royalist) but wow what a revelation it was. People all over the world thought that this loose cannon of a Prince was as crazy as a frog preaching on about banning plastic in 1973! But guess what he was RIGHT. As an environmentalist he said 50 years ago “hey, where is all this plastic waste going to go” and everyone ignored him. How very sad that is now, if. If only governments world wide had actually listened to him the world right now would not be facing crisis point over plastic waste.
Who wants our plastic waste, China is refusing to take it back, the oceans are floating in it and landfills are filling up by the crater load daily. So what do we do? There is only one thing we can do and that is go back to the good old days.
I mean really, have we turned into such a lazy society where we don’t want fresh food and fresh drinking water, where we only like it if its wrapped up nice and tight in plastic? I went to the supermarket the other day and saw a swede (very nice vegetable if you don’t know) that was shrink wrapped in plastic. I laughed as if I hadn’t I would have cried. I stood staring at it and thought just WHY! Is this the mentality of the people who are looking after what we buy and consume. Clearly!
I am not saying I am the Eco queen as I still have a long way to go but I am being honest and have made a lot of drastic changes already that I am reaping the benefits from, for me, not just in my wallet but in how I think and what sits easy on my mind.
Maybe I should tell you that I am a 50 year old woman with two grown up kids who are doing their thing. Pretty standard stuff you are thinking for someone my age and yes you are right it is. I have worked all my life and still doing it and enjoying life very much (thank god for Gin)! So what made me want to change how I do things, well there is the obvious David Attenborough shows which made me cry and maybe because I am that sort, as at 17 I was subscribing to a donkey
sanctuary! (Just for the record I don’t anymore as my subscription goes to RSPCC).
So how did I start on my Eco journey. Well it may seem easy and it is now but it wasn’t at the time. I grew up in the 70’s and was a teenager in the 80’s and I am sorry to say I cant remember much but I can remember my mother cleaning the bathroom with a bottle of Vim, this was a powder in a cardboard tube that you shook into the bath, scoured it round the rim and then rinsed it away, hard work yes and you needed some elbow grease to get the job done but did get it done. This was later replaced with Jif (later renamed CIF) which came in a plastic bottle. It was a revelation, fantastic product my mother loved it, so easy to use, rinsed away great, bathroom sparkling but sadly plastic! This is the first real thing strangely that I remember coming in a plastic bottle, probably as my job as a kid was cleaning the bathroom! (kids had jobs to do round the house then).So what do I use now, well it’s a tough one as the only thing really out there that is chemical free and doesn’t come in plastic, is bicarbonate of soda (optional), water and vinegar. Mix them together, put the solution in a glass bottle with a spritzer top and off you go. I add some lemon citrus essential oil to the mixture as I like the smell of it and bingo! I know its an effort to make but it’s a worthwhile one and the results are just the same if not better and on a positive you aren’t inhaling all those nasty chemicals.
I think the hardest thing to find a decent swap for was for was washing up pots! We all love fairy liquid, we grew up with it, we even looked forward to the new adverts coming on the telly, its what we know. Washing up is a bind at the best of times but it’s a job that has to be do
ne throughout the day after every single cup of tea or meal. So what do we actually replace good old fairy with, well, No Tox Life Dish Wash Block is fantastic and I really don’t know of another product right now to beat it. It lathers well, it cleans pots and pans and its completely plastic free. Its not cheap guaranteed, but it lasts a long time. Sit it on the draining board on a soap rack and you will get no waste that way. You want it to dry out after each use not sit going soggy!
My life doesn’t revolve entirely around cleaning obviously but they are some simple tips to help you with the menial tasks in your life. What I am keen on is health and fitness and I do work out. I wasn’t an early starter with this and only started to think I needed to do something for me around 5 years ago. I do a boot camp 3 times a week, its not easy and I do have to make myself go an awful lot of the time! First big rule from my instructor was drink 6 – 8 bottles of water a day. I embraced this, yes we all know water is good for you, so off I went every week to the supermarket and bought 3 cases of bottled water all neatly packaged up in plastic and filled the fridge. Delicious, until every single week my red wheelie bin (ours is red for cardboard and plastic) was heaving to capacity and I was putting a plastic bag next to it full of plastic bottles for the bin man! I felt great, look at me, I am drinking all this water, what a great job I am doing to my body but hey what the hell am I doing to the environment, where is all this plastic going to go. I thought it was all recyclable and some of it is. But did you realise that most plastic can only be recycled once? No neither did I. For the majority ignorance is bliss but I had to do something to stop what I was doing.
So where did it all go wrong, well I clearly remember, the 1980’s saw every magazine and newspaper showing images of super fit super models and celebrities with an Evian water bottle in their hand, whether they were going out to the shops, restaurants or gym it was hip and trendy to carry one. So what did we do, we emulated them obviously, we wanted to look just like the Ellie McPherson’s and Cindy Crawford’s of that time. Its image and the water bottle was part of it. Unfortunately, those very same water bottles are still out there somewhere and will be for the next thousand years! The best thing and I mean the best thing I ever did was invest in glass water bottles. I still drink 6 – 8 bottles of water a day but I fill them with tap water. We have the best fresh tap water in the world and all we need to do is fill up a bottle and pop it in the fridge and hey presto we have beautiful chilled water all the time. OK so you need to wash them, rinse them and re fill them but its constantly on tap and wowzers its fabulous. The very fact that they are plastic free really does change the taste honestly.
Its not so very long ago when milk was delivered to your front door every morning in glass bottles, you washed them and put outside to be collected to go back to the dairy to be sterilized and re used. This went completely out of fashion and I cant remember the last time I even saw a milk man never mind 2 bottles of gold top sat on door steps. Milk in plastic bottles is the norm now, but why? In a convenience society that we live in today what possibly could be any more convenient than having it delivered to your door step? I mean who in their right mind wants to go to the shop to buy 4 pints of milk that comes in one large plastic bottle, have to lug it home weighing a ton when it can be delivered straight to your doorstep fresh every morning. Well we do. Sounds bonkers doesn’t it. However, this is changing now as people wise up at last and all hail the return of the milk man. Milk, juice, yogurt all delivered to your door in glass bottles. Hooray. Easy yes, and makes a lot of sense!
Kitchen swaps are probably the easiest and cheapest to do as its just a case of changing habits. Take for example cling film. I remember when cling film did cling, now a days what is the point of it as its not clung for years! It was the worst kitchen invention ever, it took you longer to find the end of it, try desperately to pull it out in one single piece without it tearing or clinging ferociously to its self then having to bin it and start again! Cling film is plastic and we don’t need it. Whether you use it to cover up a bowl of food to put in the fridge or wrap sandwiches in it, its completely unnecessary single use plastic. I, like most homes have stacks of Tupperware tubs that I have bought throughout my married life (strangely more lids than tubs) and I use them to put left overs in and packed lunches. I know they are plastic but there is little point binning them as they will only go to landfill and they do the job. There is no need to bin everything plastic in your house just because its not eco, its more eco to re use what you have got and only replace when its worn out or broken. However I did invest in a pack of wax wraps. We all like new things and especially things that are practical and good looking and wax wraps are both. They are fantastic and I love them, they keep food fresh longer and are great for molding round a bowl or wrapping sandwiches in. They are washable and reusable and a big talking point whenever I open my lunch. People are genuinely amazed by them just as I was. I had never heard about them and certainly never seen them, but I wouldn’t be without them now. I use them for everything. If it wont go in a tub it gets covered with a wax wrap. Simple invention but a truly great one.
The thing is we are creatures of habit, we do what we know, its just how we are. We have grown up with so many convenience products at our finger tips to make life simple that unfortunately are plastic and it all ends up inevitably dumped somewhere.
Its not actually our fault as we didn’t know any other, put everything in the bin and off you go out of sight out of mind, but governments and big industries did know. They continued to churn out these plastic non recyclable products and fabrics and they let us bin it with not a care for land or beast. Why, because it was cheap to manufacture and made them all huge fortunes that’s why.
So where do we go from here? Well we have to go back to go forward and that means looking at what was available and what people used before the plastic population began. How did they wash, how did they shave, how did they clean there homes, what fabrics did they wear, what did they wrap their babies bums in and the unspeakable, what did women do when they had a period. The list is truly endless. But its not all doom and gloom, things are changing, there are so many small independent industries out there that are working tirelessly to manufacture all our favourite products without the use of plastic and harmful chemicals and as the new generation embrace this its harder for us older ones. So many of my family and friends just don’t get it. They think little changes that they can do wont really make a difference in the scheme of things. Wrong attitude. If we all start off making small swaps, get used to them, make them a habit and move on to a new swap then yes it will make a difference. What are we leaving our future generation? What will this planet look like in 50 years time if we carry on as we are? It’s a very scary thought!