1. THE 3 MYTHS ABOUT LIFE WITHOUT PLASTIC
It is often believed that switching to a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle is expensive, time consuming and does not have a massive impact on the environment.
In this blog we discuss these three common myths that surround switching to plastic free living and a brief guide to how we can gradually get rid of disposable plastic from our life.
1.1 Expensive Switch
People often have the belief that life without plastic is very expensive. This is not entirely true as plastic free life does not necessarily mean buying costly items that, although are eco-friendly, are not needed. For example, buying a new stainless-steel lunch box is not a great idea when you work from home. The key point is that living sustainably should be about buying less and avoiding items that are not needed.
When we are new to adopting a new lifestyle, we are psychologically driven to think it will be unaffordable because we are not used to it. We can easily think that we are better off buying disposable plastic water bottles because they are cheap and easy to find, yet we don’t realise that the cost for one single item can add up to a huge sum at the end of the year.
In fact, a straightforward calculation can show us that spending on plastic free alternatives can save us a lot of money otherwise spent on items that we dispose almost daily. Going back to the water bottle example, it is estimated that tap water costs 1p per litre, while bottled water costs around 65p per litre, never mind the single-use plastic bottle. Now you can do the math.
1.2 Time consuming
No matter what stage in life you are at, we all have busy lives. There is a belief that changing your habits take time as you need to familiarise yourself with how a new lifestyle plays out. People also believe that in order to ditch disposable plastics from our lives, we need time to research the best and most affordable options that suit our lifestyle.
Although there is some truth in these two arguments, the secret lies in taking gradual steps because it is unreasonable to switch to a new lifestyle suddenly and completely. Taking gradual steps will ensure an adequate transition where we find alternatives that suit our surroundings as we do not all live in communities where plastic-free alternatives are widely available. Nonetheless, with so much awareness regarding plastic pollution, it is now easier and less time-consuming to find alternative sustainable options, if needed.
Moreover, with small and gradual steps we make sure we are comfortable with a new lifestyle without a need for a massive shift in our daily habits. Let’s take household cleaning products as an example. It will take time and effort to replace all the disposable cleaning items if you try to replace them all at once. How about replacing one item at a time? Start with the easy ones, then the tricky ones can follow with time. A slow shift will ensure a smooth transition that won’t require much effort when you swap your single-use items one item at a time. This will help to avoid feeling anxious about having to adapt to a new lifestyle all of a sudden. After all, there is a limited number of items you need to swap so take it easy.
1.3. Minimal Impact
The belief that taking “small steps/actions” will not lead to immediate results is down to our values. Do we really believe that the planet is in a critical situation and animals’ lives are massively in danger because of humans’ actions? If the answer is yes, then surely small actions are important and very much needed.
Some people argue that small steps will not result in an immediate and massive impact on the environment. In fact, taking no action is certainly worse than taking small steps. Although the result may not be visible immediately, they build up to be very crucial in the long-term. We need to keep endangered species, affected by plastic pollution caused by humans, in our thoughts in order to truly believe that our actions matter.
Ditching disposable plastic should be all about saving the planet from disposable materials that humans consume almost on daily basis. If we think about the impact of ditching one single-use plastic item from our lives the impact can be enormous when the UK alone consumes around 7.7 billion plastic bottles. Now let that sink in.
2. BRIEF GUIDE TO GOING PLASTIC FREE
2.1 To afford a sustainable lifestyle, treat it as an investment
Adopting a sustainable lifestyle might have a higher cost at the beginning, but it will turn out to be cheaper than using disposable items in the long run. Also, it’s advised to plan your spending according to your budget in order to spend sensibly. Also, think about the benefits and function of the alternative item, not necessarily the branding. If two bamboo toothbrushes do the same job, choose the cheaper one. Also, if you are planning to purchase a reusable item, make sure the disposable item is no longer usable. E.g. consume your disposable shaving razors before you commit to a reusable razor.
2.2 One step at a time; a long-term transition
Switching will and should take time. It’s about making small and incremental changes which have the potential to be massive over the long run. We all know that we live in a world where plastic is everywhere as it’s cheap, convenient and goes into the making of so many products we consume daily. Therefore, it is almost impossible to free our lives from disposable plastics as they exist everywhere. Instead, we need to take gradual and small steps to ensure we are not overwhelmed by a sudden change. E.g. when you are getting rid of disposable items in your bathroom, start with smaller items such as a bath loofah then move to the more complicated ones such as shampoos and creams.
This will encourage you to make more swaps when you realise you are being reasonable when it comes to buying ethical products. Small changes can gradually turn into a routine as your habits change and you get used to buying sustainable products that are planet-friendly. The key is to make it part of your routine, then it will turn into a habit and so on.
2.3 Believe in the impact, a lot at stake
If we are serious about saving our planet from getting polluted with plastics, we need to truly believe in the actions we are taking today. We need to think about future generations who are likely to face an even greater threat if we do not act swiftly and change our lifestyle habits. Some might say small steps have a tiny and unmeasurable impact and won’t affect animal lives. In fact, it is small changes and steps that add up to make a massive impact. There is a lot at stake and every single action we take today have an impact. When we believe in the impact of our actions on our planet, it feels very rewarding when we know habits are not harming this beautiful planet and its inhabitants. We need to strongly belief that it is not too late to save the planet from plastics.
There is no doubt that plastics are still very cheap and convenient for the majority of us, hence why it’s being produced at massive quantities globally. Businesses and governments have a duty to come up with alternatives because they have the resources. It’s only then that people will adopt these alternatives when they are affordable and widely available. Nonetheless, we, as humans, need to truly and wholeheartedly believe that switching to an eco-friendly lifestyle is the way forward for us and future generations to live cleaner, greener and more sustainable lives.