We are Kate and Ami. We started blogging as Polythene Pam and Village Boy but are gradually creeping out not the bright lights . We live in Yorkshire, England, in a small industrial town. We don’t have pets or kids. We shop at supermarkets when we have to, eat meat, drink alcohol and munch cheese. Giving up is not in our nature! We want to do everything but without creating a huge pile of non-biodegradable, possibly carcinogenic, lethal to wildlife rubbish that future generations will have to clean up.
We travel a lot (plastic-free of course), and much of this blog has been written while sweating our faces off in some backwater with limited internet access. Please make allowances.
We do it for free, gratis, nowt. It is our voluntary environmental work if you like.
So why boycott plastic?
The term plastic (when used to describe a synthetic product and not a quality) embraces a huge range of artifacts from glue to kayaks, stockings to tires. Why would we want to boycott glue you might ask? Or Kayaks? And how can glue be a plastic anyway?
All important questions and one that this blog tries to answer. However, when we started (back in 2006), we knew nothing of such things – we only knew we were incensed by ever-increasing amounts of plastic litter
One day a plastic bag got tangled in the tree outside my house. Months later it was still there. Next year, when the leaves fell, there it was! Looking all ragged and tatty and even more unpleasant. It was then I realized that plastic rubbish, unlike an apple core say, doesn’t biodegrade. I know it seems obvious now but I had never considered it before.
Plastic of course lasts for decades if not for ever yet we are using it to make one-use, throwaway and trashy, short-life items.The rubbish we are making in such huge amounts will be around for ever.
A couple of statistics for you:
- The world’s annual consumption of plastic materials has increased from around 5 million tonnes in the 1950s to nearly 100 million tonnes today. (WRAP)
- The amount of plastic waste generated annually in the UK is estimated to be nearly 5 million tonnes. (WRAP)
- Most plastic (and we are talking millions of tons a year) doesn’t biodegrade and lasts for centuries possibly forever!
Because it doesn’t biodegrade every bit of plastic waste, every sweet wrapper and crisp packet, has to be collected and specially disposed of. But even disposing of it is not easy. Put it in landfill and it sits there for ever. It can only be incinerated in special facilities. Recycling is often not cost effective and only a small percentage of plastic trash is. All of these solutions are expensive and only partially effective. Inevitably some plastic trash ends up as litter. Because it doesn’t rot, once it is out there it is out for ever. Hardly surprising then that plastic litter is increasing exponentially with dreadful consequences. Not only does it look ugly, it is damaging the environment, polluting the sea, choking up drains and maiming and killing animals.
Using a material that lasts for ever to make disposable throw away products has to be a misuse of plastic? Which brought it right back to me. While I might not have been mindlessly scattering plastic litter, I was certainly misusing plastic. I too was a part of the problem.
I got to thinking how much plastic rubbish we, my husband and I, created. In fact I monitored it. I saved all our plastic rubbish for a week. By the end of 7 days I was running out of space. It was shocking. you can see how much plastic we got through in a week and read more about our audit HERE. For sure my plastic rubbish goes in the bin but, as I was becoming increasingly aware, that is not the end of the problem.
Disposal aside, there are other issues to be considered such as the endocrine disruptors that leach out into plastic wrapped food, the powerful carcinogens created during the manufacture of various plastic products and the unknown additives whose toxicity has not yet been assessed. I could go on but there is enough to think about there find out more with the Problems With Plastic
So we decided to cut unnecessary plastics from our lives.
Being plastic dependant we decided to do it bit by bit. To start slow – build up those green muscles gradually. Each month we would stop “using” a piece of disposable plastic , and source a non plastic alternative.In January 2007 we launched our 12 steps program for a cleaner planet. We called it that because a) we were giving up plastic..and b) we thought it would take 12 months. Years on and we are still finding new plastic to cut.
We boycott non-biodegradable plastics used to make throwaway items like bags, packaging and bottles, trashy items that have a limited lifespan, items such as synthetic fibers for which there is a viable natural alternative and any other plastic that irritates us (easily done)! You can see the full list here
Yes it is a big list but we have sourced a surprising number of packaging-free, sustainable, biodegradable and reusable alternatives. Now we send very little to landfill nor do we recycle much. Instead we compost like demons. It feels good to know we have taken responsibility for our own rubbish and can dispose of most of it ourselves. If the bin men go on strike we don’t have to worry. Is that green or just my 70′s childhood trauma revealing its self?
And yes we do still use some plastic. We don’t dislike plastic as such, we dislike the misuse of plastic. Strong, durable, light weight, long-lasting and cheap, plastics are integral to the development and production of products that have changed the world for the better. Furthermore to replace all plastic products with natural” alternatives would place a huge strain on the environment. So we still use durable plastics when we think they are the best option. But they have to last a very long time and we have strict guidelines for how we use them. You can see the plastic we use here
I realize that a total ban on all plastics is not a realistic or even a desirable goal, but how plastic is used needs to be stringently examined. Along with what it is used for and how it is reused at the end of a product’s life. And, increasingly urgently, how the less desirable aspects can be minimized. We need to be developing cleaner, greener plastics.
All important considerations and ones I discuss in the blog. In the meantime, if you want to cut your plastic footprint check out the big list of plastic free products over here
Check out our other plastic free projects here
We are always on the look out for new products and are happy to review any that might be sent to us for consideration.
We love to feature posts by others.
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