Imagine! The world has been entirely plastic-free since whale-saviour Tim Minchin gave us all a musical aide memoire to sing before departing for the shops, and we now take the month of July to celebrate that fact and pay tribute to the dolphins who helped us to make it to our enlightened and entirely renewable times. Wouldn’t that be nice? But no, not yet, the world’s arteries remain clogged with the cellophane lids off meal deal pasta salads, and our arteries are becoming increasingly clogged with tiny particles of the same.
Plastic is one of those problems which seem so huge and unsurmountable it’s very difficult to look at them directly as it is just too depressing! But there are lots of new initiatives popping up that combined together can help us as consumers to really have an impact. You probably have heard of things like reusable coffee cups, bamboo toothbrushes, refills of washing up liquid and laundry liquid, wooden washing up brushes, jute shopping bags etc etc. We’ve been selling stuff like this for a while and we have never found so much passion and determination among our customers to use them to reduce their plastic waste. And running the shop I have been repeatedly delighted to find that suppliers are addressing the packaging issue as well, with stock items like little glass bottles of essential oil now arriving in shredded paper packaging rather than bubblewrap, and Optibac probiotics FINALLY arriving in little glass jars rather than plastic tubs (thank you thank you Optibac!). So although there are lots of feelings of despair and helplessness around the state of plastic pollution, especially in our oceans, there are also reasons for hope. And Plastic Free July exists to turn that hope into action – to be, as they put it “part of the solution” and join the many millions of others reducing their plastic waste.
Started in Australia in 2011, the Plastic Free Foundation wants people to commit to new plastic-reduction techniques throughout the month of July. No straws, bringing your own mug to the cafe, refillable porridge oat dispensers – that sort of thing. The movement survived the Coronavirus pandemic and is back this year with the message that even “when things were out of our control, we could have control on something, and it was our own behaviour.” And if nobody asks for or buys the alternative, there will be no alternative. Of course there is a long way to go, but as the Plastic Free July website says: “We don't need one person doing it perfectly, we need millions doing it imperfectly.” For more inspiring stories look on their website, www.plasticfreejuly.org
It’s tempting to not want to open our eyes and look at the state of the world, it’s tempting to feel overburdened and keep the blinkers on. But if seeing what is really happening and feeling the pain and holding the problem in our brains for a moment longer than is comfortable leads to a tiny improvement in our own personal relationship with plastic waste, then we’ve done our bit for the day.
I know how depressing it can be at times, but there is a lot we can do as individuals, while we wait for the powers that be to get their fingers out. Tod Almighty is a “reduce plastic waste” shop (please note, NOT a “zero waste shop, as I don’t think that’s really possible) where we offer a wide range of refills both of wholefoods and detergents that you can fill your own containers with, thereby bypassing packaging altogether. You can refill that washing up liquid bottle dozens of times before it falls apart,and think of the reduction of plastic in the environment just from that one little thing. And it’s cheaper. Drop in and see what else we can offer.
(Thanks to Georges for his input in this)