We’re halfway through Lent. All your resolutions are shattered. You’ve slept through the three alarms you set for that yoga class; the drunk texts you sent have been left on read; and there's a half eaten kebab next to your pillow. We get it, we’ve all been there.
Evocco is here to restore your dignity with our 30 Day Plastic Free Challenge. The beauty of it is that it can be started at any time and just aims to make you aware of what you’re doing and how easy it is to make some small, simple changes that can make a huge difference.
The simple truth is that there is so much more plastic in the world than we need. And, depressingly, so much of what we take for granted as recyclable just isn’t. A good, but frightening, resource is Recycling List Ireland, but it’s what isn’t on the list that speaks volumes about how much easier it is to just avoid these products.
A couple of example of non-recyclable products we assume are ok to chuck into the recycling are:
Coffee Cups - A disposable coffee cup is made from paper but has a plastic lining that is difficult to remove
Carrier Bags / Refuse Sack - Plastic bags get tangled in the machines and slow down work on the sorting lines as people have to empty them.
Soft Plastics - We do not have the technology to recycle soft plastics such as wrappers.
Whilst it may seem like a hassle, or something that isn’t going to do any good, showing a consumer preference for goods that aren’t environmentally harmful is the best way to see widespread corporate change.
1. Avoid plastic take out
Coffee cups really are a symbol of everything we’re fighting against! They’re wrapped in both paper and plastic which means that only 1/400 or (0.25%) are recycled.
Think about all the take-away coffees that you’ve had in your life, possibly even every day, and how none of these have been recycled even when you’ve thought you were being good! Corporations have vested interests in making you think that they’re being environmentally ethical but it’s time to become a discerning consumer and show them that actually being ethical is a much easier way of cultivating loyalty.
It’s time to say no to plastic cutlery and bring your own bottle or mug - all companies are happy to fill an eco cup. You can buy one online here.
2. Get cotton tote bags for shopping
We imagine that you’ve heard this one before a few times, but it’s still worth saying again.
Even with the ‘bags for life,’ it’s even more difficult to avoid collecting 100s stuffed into a cupboard somewhere!
3. Give up gum!
Gum is made of synthetic rubber, another plastic.
4. Stop using straws
Plastic straws are one of the top five most common items found on our shores during International Coastal Cleanups. In the United States alone, approximately 500 million plastic straws are used and discarded each day — enough straws to circumnavigate the planet two and a half times.
The easiest thing is not to use them but there are tons of alternatives that can be found here.
5. Buy fresh food
Frozen food tends to be wrapped in plastic, so try and go for shops where you can bring your own containers or places like farmers markets where there tends to be less plastic.
If you do have to buy containers for food, re-use them as leftover pots or lunch boxes.
If you’re feeling more extreme, the British Environment Minister, Ben Bradshaw, urged people to take off excessive packaging and leave it in store, and that it is possible to report retailers to trading standards for breaking laws on excessive packaging. Big retailers like Tescos have expressly said that if you do this they will then recycle it themselves.
6. Make your own freshly squeezed juice
Even the cartons include plastic. On the plus side there is something inexplicably sexy about coming downstairs to someone making fresh juice, we don’t know why it just works!
7. Use sustainable and nature-friendly soaps and cleaning products
They should be easy to spot as the more authentic a product’s green credentials are, the more they will talk about them. In particular look out for labels with certifiers such as the rainforest alliance as a seal of approval.
Ecover is doing amazing things by creating the world’s first phosphate-free laundry detergent (phosphates get into bodies of fresh water and encourage algae growth, dirtying the water and removing the oxygen from it so that fish die off) and making plastic derived from sugarcane.
Otherwise, smaller, independent body soaps like Bend in the Barrow are usually vegan and cleaner. And it’s absolutely essential to avoid products like Palm Oil, which is hugely linked to the deforestation of the Amazon.
8. Avoid anything with micro-beads
These are in lots of face-washes and cleaning products. The beads are so small that they are almost impossible to filter out, can be eaten by sealife and are usually made of plastic. Every time we wash our face with a cleanser or scrub containing microbeads between 5,000 and 100,000 of them are washed down the drain, and straight into the sea.
It’s so harmful that the EU and Ireland are already in talks about banning it, so maybe it’s time to get ahead of the curve and show support for government initiatives like this!
9. Use a normal razor with replaceable blades instead of a disposable one
Available to buy anywhere where there’s hipsters or here.
10. Use a moon cup instead of pads and tampons
Ocean Conservancy volunteers collected 27,938 used tampons and applicators throughout the world’s beaches on a single day. And that’s something to be squeamish about!
You can even pick them up in boots now or Nutrition Ireland has a handy guide about which is right for you.
And, if at the end of the 30 days, you only keep going with one or two things on the list, we reckon you can still chalk that up to a win!