I’m Andy Bentley, an IT Consultant living in Pinehurst. I’ve had an interest in all things environmental for a while now; I’m a member of the local Green Party and provide the website for SCAN. I’d already been reducing, reusing and recycling for years, but my buying choices were far from perfect (and I’m still working on them).
Like many of the other contributors my journey to reduce my use of plastic went up a gear when I heard about Plastic Free July. It prompted me to look at how much plastic waste I was responsible for, and how I could cut down on it. Some changes were easy to identify and make right at the start, others I discovered as I went along.
The Changes I’ve Made So Far
Ready meals were the first to go. I’d already cut down on them but was probably still having stuff from the chilled section of the supermarket at least once or twice a week. That was easy to stop. I cook from scratch most of the time now using fresh veg and have mostly cut out things like Quorn or soya mince that comes in plastic bags.
I work away from home a fair bit and lunch when I’m away was more of a challenge. Although there is a canteen at work serving fresh food the vegetarian options are limited so I’d been resorting to off-the-shelf sandwiches that come in a mixed card/plastic package. Two things made it easy to fix… my client has fridges and microwaves available to staff. That means that, as long as I get myself organised, I can take food with me in reusable containers that will keep, and that I can heat up. Tomorrow’s lunch will be veggie bolognaise left over from dinner at home yesterday.
Other changes came in the bathroom. I replaced my plastic razor with a ‘proper’ safety razor, so the only thing that needs replacing is the metal blade. The shave is just as good as with my old multi-bladed plastic wonder, though it did take a bit of practice. Ironically, I’ve since grown the beard…
The shampoo, conditioner and shower gel have all gone. I’ve replaced them with solid shampoo & soap. The shampoo, from Lush, was a big surprise. I was expecting it to be a bit of a spartan experience, but it lathers up really well. I’ve also gone for a solid deodorant, that comes in a glass jar rather than a plastic tube. The coal-tar soap reminds me of my grandad, and luckily doesn’t actually contain any tar!
Since Plastic Free July I have changed my ways for the better. I’m not plastic free, not yet, but my buying choices are strongly influence by the packaging. My vegetable oil comes in a glass bottle rather than a plastic one. I tend to buy bigger packets of stuff now, as overall that means less packaging (of whatever type), though I balance that against making sure it won’t go off before I can use it. If I do buy something that comes in plastic, I’ll go for the most recyclable one: I absolutely won’t buy anything in black plastic, as I know that won’t get recycled.
I know that many of these replacements, particularly things like my shampoo and vegetable oil, are more expensive than what I was using before. On the other hand, the cost of some things, like razor blades is a lot lower: a pack of 5 new blades now costs me around £2 instead of £10 or more. Some of the other things, like making my own bread, cost me time rather than money… and it’s something I enjoy doing.
My New Year’s Resolution
I’ll carry on improving on the changes I’ve made so far. I have some ‘toothpowder’ on order with my next batch of bamboo toothbrushes. It comes in a glass jar so that’s one more step in the right direction. If I get on with it, I’ll be doing more research into a low-abrasive version of it, as that seems to be one drawback of many of these tooth-cleaning products.
My clothes are something I’ll take a look at, phasing out man-made fibres in favour of natural ones as old things wear out. Having cut out most of the other plastics I was responsible for before, the main plastics I’m left with in my recycling now are the milk bottles, so I’ve just signed up to have my milk delivered in glass ones. I’ll be reading about the changes that others have made and checking out other online resources to see what else I can do.
In short, I’ll be devoting more time to a better way of living: more time spent gardening (growing some of my own veg), baking and walking, and less time in the supermarket and the car. I need to make the changes I want to see in the world.