10 Nov 2018

By Lauri Bower

Going Plastic Free

I wanted to write a post about going #plasticfree which is below, but actually what I also want to say is that my inspiration for this comes from the 5 Mindfulness Trainings from Thich Nhat Hanh, and a view that in looking after ourselves we need to look after the whole planet, animals, plants and minerals as well. There are many aspects to the 5MTs, and Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) recommends these are read regularly, preferably with a group of people to then discuss how they are relevant to our lives. For me, the most important aspect is this sentence:

I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy

2nd of the 5 Mindfulness Trainings

To me this speaks about being aware of my consumption, and recognising and being grateful for the many gifts I have in my life around me – good health, a lovely home, family and friends – the list could go on for a long time! So, onto the plastic free bit!

I’m really glad to see #plasticfree is on the increase and appreciate how difficult it is at times. Sometimes when I ask for ‘no straw’ they bring one anyway! But I have also discovered lots of wonderful substitutes. So in my own endeavours to go #plastic free the changes I have made are (and just to say, I’m not being sponsored by anyone for doing this!)

Who Gives a Crap (great name!) toilet paper wrapped in paper delivered to your door.  And if you want to go a step further Cheeky Wipes are reusable, washable cotton wipes which are so much nicer than toilet paper.

Bamboo toothbrushes. At the moment we use plastic ones where you only replace the head, but nonetheless these still go into landfill, so bamboo toothbrushes, which can be composted once finished with will be used once the plastic ones are done.

Shampoo soap bars. I had to do quite a bit of market research to find ones that didn’t make my eyes sting! Oh, and not only am I seeking to be plastic free, it also has to be organic as well, another challenge! So currently I’m using Friendly for hair, head and body, so my aim (once all the other shower bottles are used up) is to just have one bar of soap in the shower! They are also local, made in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire, which I’m very pleased about. I buy them from Alligator in York.

Toothpaste in a glass jar. I discovered Truthpaste, which is made in Brighton. It’s quite a strong taste compared to my normal toothpaste but I’m persevering. They also do solid deodorant in a tin that you apply with your fingers, which is very nice.

Cling cloth, a lovely, pretty alternative to clingfilm. This is pieces of cotton covered in bees wax which clings to itself when you apply heat from your hands, so you can shape it around bowls and plates, or individual pieces of fruit or veg. It’s washable and compostable at the end of its life cycle.

I always ask for no straw if I’m out having a drink or smoothie, and don’t buy pre-wrapped sandwiches or takeaway hot drinks anyway. I shop from a local Organic farm, The Organic Pantry, who deliver loose fruit and veg in boxes and  in a paper bag if anything. This weekend I’ve also been looking further at buying nuts, rice etc. loose rather than in plastic bags, and there are possibilities if I travel to Leeds or York.  I’m going to check out Alligator Foods in York, who are organic. Whilst these are good measures I’m also aware there is further to go.

It’s really good to see lots of articles popping up now about making changes, particularly to avoid single use plastics. My question is who’s doing something to change the way we recycle plastic, and make this easier to do? When you hear that much of our plastic is shipped overseas to be recycled that’s complete nonsense! Or much that we think is being recycled isn’t anyway because it’s mixed materials. When you read that every plastic toothbrush made still exists I want to know what can be done to recycle them, locally, by our own council authorities? Is it worth hoarding the plastic we have in the house now until someone comes up with a brilliant idea of recycling it properly? Not too sure I want to hoard old toothbrushes! But at least it won’t be going into the oceans.

I don’t have the answers to these but I guess the more people keep asking these questions the more likely it is that councils will start to take notice.

Or some genius who’s probably about 12 will come up with a splendid answer! I really hope so!

Lauri practises with the York Sangha and co-ordinates the Be Calm, Be Happy courses.

This post originally appeared on Lauri’s blog The Creative Space.

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