Whenever I’m away on a cruise ship, the saddest thing for me is seeing all the plastic floating in the sea. I think as a whole, the cruise industry needs to work much harder to become more sustainable and eco-conscious. This goes for the airline industry too, whose overuse of plastic cups, bottles and straws always frustrates me on flights. On a recent cruise I was on, a plastic bottle of water was handed to each passenger on disembarkation at every port, and my request to refill my reusable water bottle at the bar was refused. When I persisted, the barman opened aplastic bottle of water and poured it into mine. Hmmmm. So what can we do to live more sustainably? Well of course, we can recycle as much as possible (I spend my life fishing recycling out of the bin because the boys seem incapable of grasping what’s recyclable), but I’d like to go further and have been doing a bit of research about the sorts of things that are available. So for this week’s wishlist, I’ve gathered 10 ways to live a more sustainable life:
I’m rubbish at this ( no pun intended). I’ve got a ton of reusable shopping bags in the boot of the car, but nine times out of ten, I get to the checkout before I realise they’re still there, so I’m definitely trying to work harder at this. I really like cloth bags that you can pop in the washing machine too (they’re often given out as goody bags), and string bags are really fashionable at the moment too. Check out this pink one from ASOS, made from 100% cotton.
I know that carrying around a whacking great reusable cup in your bag isn’t ideal, but single use coffee cups aren’t currently recyclable, due to their inner polyethylene lining, which is such a shame. I quite like the look of the Ecoffee Cup – a reusable takeaway cup made of bamboo fibre with tops made of food grade silicone, which should last for years. They’re dishwasher friendly, BPA and phthalate free and feel a bit like thick cardboard – much lighter in your bag. The big hitters like Starbucks and Costa will happily fill your own mug for you, so I’m going to try and get into the habit of using one.
My water bottle is a metal one that I was given by Universal Orlando (find similar at M&S – love this rose gold colour). Somehow for me, this just feels nicer than a plastic one. They’re really good for travel too as they keep water cold. I take it empty through security at the airport, then fill it up at the water fountain just before I get on board.
I read about bamboo toothbrushes a while back in a magazine, but I’ve also read some horror stories about bamboo brushes being sold with animal hair bristles. The best ones I can find seem to be made by Humble Brush which have nylon bristles, which obviously won’t biodegrade, but at least the handles will.
I didn’t even know beeswax wrap was a thing until I bought Veggie Mag last week. It’s a really interesting concept, made of organic cotton , beeswax, organic jojoba oil and tree resin. They’re naturally antibacterial, biodegradable and compostable and you just wash with cool water and hang out to dry. Apparently they’ll last for about a year at a time – fab for wrapping stuff in the fridge,
Storage jars and paper bags
I’ve made a conscious decision to stop buying plastic freezer bags. In the fridge, I go paper bags for veg, Mason jars for soups and stuff (or just the old fashioned bowl with a plate on top technique), or use a couple of old tupperware boxes that I’ve got. With the freezer it’s a bit more tricky, but you can freeze preserving jars like Mason jars quite easily, and if we order a takeaway I always keep the plastic boxes and use those. Stasher do these fab plastic-free silicone reusable bags that are suitable for the freezer too.
Loose leaf tea
I was seriously surprised to hear recently that tea bags aren’t fully biodegradable. Apparently the area around the seal contains microplastics that can leach into the ground or end up in the water supply. I guess I could go old school and start buying loose leaf tea again. I actually quite like the ritual of making a pot of tea, but I do also like the convenience of tea bags, so I’m happy that a quick google brought up an article saying that P G Tips have recently announced a fully biodegradable tea bag.
This is such a big thing in our house – we get through so many bottles of hand soap and shower gel. A while ago, I started buying the extra large bottles that TK Maxx and Home Sense always sell, thinking that at least I’m cutting down on our plastic use, but we’re going to have a little experiment with good old fashioned soap again. Also, I’m going to give some of the aerosol-free natural deodorants a go – I’ll report back on that one.
My gorgeous friend, Sophie is just in the process of opening a brilliant zero waste shop, called Ripple Living in Cardiff, offering plastic-free food, natural beauty, sustainable fashion and ethical homeware. There are a few other shops around the country where you can bulk buy and refill, but also consider using your local market or farm shop. Ours are both fab, and you can bring your own bags to buy their fruit and veg, without all the hideous packaging that the supermarkets use. Our farm shop also sells frozen stuff like fruit, veg and even croissants in bulk from huge freezers.
You’d actually be surprised what you can recycle: the cling film from the top of food trays, old carrier bags, the plastic bag your bread comes in, wrapping from toilet rolls, and my biggest bugbear – the ridiculous amount of plastic that items are wrapped it when you buy clothes online (I’m looking at you, Next!). I think that the general rule that if it’s stretchy, it can be recycled. Most supermarkets (except Asda for some reason) have a plastic bag recycling bin, and if you look on the recyclenow website, you can put in your postcode to find the nearest place to recycle your plastic bags and film. I’ve now got a bag in the garage where I pop all my plastic ready to take it to be recycled next time I go shopping.
Next up, why I’m pondering being a pescatarian. Who even am I these days?!