A life without plastic. Sounds great hey, but almost impossible? In our modern society we encounter plastic at almost every turn, from our supermarket packaged food to our clothes. It’s one of the most readily made resources around the world and most plastics are not biodegradable, they stick around forever! In recent years there has been a backlash against this man-made behemoth and people are starting to try to live a more natural and biodegradable life. We are lucky enough to have one of these anti-plastic pioneers, Kate Armstrong, as one of our lovely customers.
Kate contacted us to find out if we could send our fabrics to her in plastic free packaging, and as a matter of fact, we already do that! We were so intrigued by her request we had to find out more. And lucky for you guys Kate agreed to give us an insight into her plastic free habits, as well as sharing tips for how you can do the same.
Reducing Waste & Living A Life Without Plastic – Kate Armstrong
For some, it’s the fair-trade they love, for others the organic cotton and there is no doubt the designs are lovely. All these are wonderful things but the icing on this particularly plump cake is that Offset Warehouse post out their fabric in plastic free packaging and sell cotton thread on wooden reels. Which means I can now make not only a fair-trade, organic and affordable outfit but a plastic free one. I am utterly delighted.
As you probably know, clothes generally come to store in plastic packaging and often pre-hung on plastic hangers. But I didn’t. I used to think when I refused a plastic hanger in the shop, it would be reused to hang more clothes. Now I know this is not the case. Instead, each item arrives in-store with its own hanger! If I refuse to take a hanger it will at best be recycled, but more likely thrown away.
Even when I manage to source a packaging free, unhung item there will be plasticky size labels, stickers, price tags and irritating ties and clips to contend with. Even cardboard looking labels will most likely be plasticised.
Why does this bother me so much? Because using plastic, a product that lasts forever, to make items that are used for a few moments before they are discarded, is causing big problems. And just like low wages and pesticides, I don’t want to be part of it.
In the UK alone we generate 3 million tonnes of plastic waste annually. Most plastics do not biodegrade. Our millions of tonnes of plastic trash are going to last a long, long time – possibly forever. Because plastic trash doesn’t rot away like organic trash, it cannot be composted. Instead it all has to be collected and specially disposed of. But even the best disposal methods are flawed. Put it in landfill and it just sits there and we are now running out of holes. It can only be incinerated in special facilities. And yes plastic can be recycled but only a small percentage of plastic trash is.
All disposal methods are expensive, come with an environmental cost and are only partially effective. Inevitably some plastic trash ends up as litter. As this is litter with a lifespan of centuries. it is hardly surprising that plastic pollution is increasing exponentially. Not only does it look ugly but it has disastrous consequences for the ecosystem. Every year, hundreds of animals are killed or seriously injured when they accidentally ingest plastic trash, the seas are full of everlasting rubbish choking everything from corals to turtles and storm drains are blocked with plastic bags with predictable and disastrous results.
By creating a demand for these trashy plastic products I consider myself to be part of the problem. So I decided to boycott unnecessary plastics and source compostable alternatives. As I learnt more about the hormone disruptors that leach from plastic lined tins, wrappers, or bottles, the powerful carcinogens that are created during the manufacture of certain plastics and chemical additives the toxicity of which have yet to be assessed, I am rather glad I did.
What with one thing and another cutting the amount of plastic you use is good for you and the environment. Alongside making your own plastic free clothes here are ten more tips to help you dramatically reduce your plastic footprint.
Plastic Free Living Tips
1. Food Shopping
Take your own reusable bag when shopping. Too easy? Then refuse to use those nasty flimsy bags they give you for your fruit and veg. Buy or make some reusable produce bags and only buy loose food.
2.Meat & Fish
Take a reusable container for meat and fish. Easier if you know your butcher but I have done this in supermarkets.
Britain consumes 3 billion litres of bottled water per year. That’s 13 billion plastic bottles that don’t need to be out there. Get yourself a reusable water bottle and fill it with clean, perfectly safe, and much cheaper tap water.
Straws really suck. Just say no. Or think about getting reusable straws.
Did you know that paper cups are plastic lined? Take a reusable cup to work or the coffee shop. All the hipsters are doing it.
6. Bicarbonate of Soda
Get into bicarbonate of soda. You can use it for everything from cleaning your teeth to cleaning the dog. Vinegar is another multitasking product.
Get a milkman with returnable, reusable glass bottles. Stalk your neighbours looking for empties or check here to see if there’s one in your area.
8. Washing Up
9. Hair Care
For hair use soap instead of plastic bottled shampoo. For conditioner use coconut oil on dry hair or a vinegar rinse for oily. If this sounds too basic, Lush do a range of solid shampoos and conditioners. But buy from the shop as the online store sends out their products plastic wrapped.
10. Skin Care
Toothpowder lotions and creams are really easy to make and they work. Better still you get to control what goes on your skin and can cut your palm oil usage.