As I mentioned in my last post, “I didn’t know I was sick until I was healthy”, my interest in making our home plastic-free probably had the greatest impact on my family’s lifestyle. It positively affected our habits and consumer decisions in a way that addressed so many ethical issues we were interested in. We started buying in bulk and eliminating unnecessary packaging; we also had another reason for buying meat and fresh produce from the local Farmers’ Markets; we stopped buying a lot of commercially prepared goods and opting for homemade or locally made alternatives; and we consciously chose longer-lasting, multi-purpose alternatives to single-use plastic items. These changes inadvertently addressed our interests in sustainability, animal welfare, artificial food additives, fair trade, and supporting local business, all in one fell swoop!
So, what motivated us to go plastic-free?
Last year I came across this story along with its STUNNING images of the Maldives, and I was completely horrified to see what’s really happening with the world’s plastic.
I showed these images and relayed the story to my Year 10 design students, and they were equally appalled, but they couldn’t really comprehend how bad it is. I mean, how could these teens fathom the possibility that their parents are so willfully irresponsible about their inheritance? I stressed to them that it’s not about trying to FIX the problem, but about making the effort to do things in a way that is moral and responsible using the knowledge and resources you have. And I’m pleased to say that I’m sure at least one of my students stopped using those horrible plastic water bottles from that moment on!
Later, reflecting on my own responses to my students’ questions, I decided that as mother and housekeeper of our house, I was determined to eschew all plastic wherever practical and possible. Of course, as people so kindly continue to remind me now, it is (surely?!) impossible to get by without plastic these days, as our essential appliances, technological communication devices, cars and clothes, building materials… the list goes on… are all made with the use of plastics. I accept that, and I really can’t disagree that Lego is one of the best (children’s) toys ever invented, but I also can’t see any harm in drastically reducing the amount of it in my house. Apart from all the environmental considerations, I was very motivated to do it for my family’s health, but also because I believe that plastic and its convenience allows us to be unconsciously and consciously wasteful for no good reason. Preparing for another round of maternity leave and the temporary loss of our second income, I decided I was going to get rid of unnecessary plastic, save money, and live more comfortably for it. I want my own children to learn from me and make the effort rather than wait for elusive and/or impossible solutions.
So over the next few blog posts, I will share with you some of the things I changed around the house. I purposefully haven’t outlined in this post all the issues surrounding our overuse of plastic, because there is a wealth of high quality material written about it on the internet and in books, and by people who are actually experts on the subject (unlike me). Instead, here are some links to articles/websites I found interesting. They gave me the nudge I needed to do something to make a difference.
From the Plastic Free July website: http://www.plasticfreejuly.org/blogs.html