Plastic – A Wake Up Call
Pre-Sicily, I was hounding Ads about ways to redesign Tramezzini to reduce our plastic use and make our businesses reflect a more ethical and ecological approach. We talked about getting rid of plastic lids on take-away cups by introducing refillable containers, eliminating plastic straws completely and various other adjustments behind the scenes and in front of the counter.
I was nipping at Adam’s ankles with anti-plastic “dog with a bone” ferocity.
Ads was engaged in an “okay-we’ll-do-it-but-get-the-f**k-off-my-trouser-leg” sort of way.
He agreed with the whole idea of reducing plastic, but like many manically busy, plate-full kind of dudes, ramping up the eco-power of the biz felt like another major chore on top of a long list of screaming priorities.
Then we went on holiday.
Our holiday accommodation was a humble little caravan lost in a cactus reserve, sandwiched between a massive violet cliff face and a coast made of calcified rock.
A rust red track snaked along the foot of our cactus garden, stitching the nibbled rocks to a desert where lizards darted and delicious purple flowers bloomed with all of their might.
Each morning we’d take this pathway down to the water’s edge.
Reid would rip off his shorts and crouch in the shallows to gawp at the sea anemones wiggling their dendrite-arms. Pix and I would hang out, dipping our hand in the rock pools and watched the lime striped crabs that dusted the subterranean rocks like pennies in a wishing well.
Those who weren’t supervising Reid would pick their way over the rocks and dive into the sea.
“I’m so disappointed that I didn’t bring my mask,” Ads said as he broke out of the water following an epic dive.
“You can open your eyes under water though, can’t you?” Roo shouted through the rush and gurgle of the great undulating mass. “You said you could!”
“I can,” Ads called back. “But it’s not the same as having a mask. You can see things so much more clearly.”
Out of everyone, Ads is a proper sea-dweller. Pisces in mind, body and soul, he is a happy man when he’s exploring the subterranean world.
He dived back under and relished the sea despite having no mask.
And this is what we did every morning.
Two days before we were due to come home, we visited a nearby town and came across a street market that sold goggles and diving masks. Delightedly Ads bought himself one. It wasn’t exactly great, but it was enough to dive down and fully appreciate the aquarium of fish that seemed to be living off these Sicilian shores. Returning to the campsite, I took Reid off to play so Ads could head down to our little outcrop and enjoy some solo diving time.
An hour or so later I returned to our caravan to find him sitting outside on the chairs, looking out at the sea.
“How was it? Did you see many fish?”
Ads looked up at me. He didn’t look how I expected him to look.
In a flat tone, he said, “It was full of plastic.”
“It was everywhere, Plastic. It was totally disgusting. I thought that I’d been feeling sea weed on my legs and ankles, but it wasn’t. It was plastic. It was everywhere. We’d been swimming in it and the water was just FULL of it.”
I was quiet. Just stood there allowing what he’d said to settle.
Feeling cheated and dirty and a bit frightened and stupid.
“I guess we were aware that the sea is being polluted with plastic,” was all I could say.
Ads shook his head. “It’s different when you see it. You actually realise. It has made me feel sick.”
It takes different things to make different people actually get it … to realise what’s happening to our oceans and planet as a result of human plastic production.
70% of our planet’s oxygen comes from the ocean. 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year – and 50% of it, such as plastic bags and ketchup sachets – are used once and then thrown away. A huge percentage ends up in the sea.
It takes 500-1000 years for plastic to degrade and in the last 10 years we’ve produced more plastic than during the entire last century.
Many of us are familiar with the facts.
Many of us are desensitised to the figures.
At some point – sooner or too late – we’ll all have our wake up call.
For Ads, this realisation triggered a major paradigm shift and a resulting mission to eliminate as much plastic as possible from Tramezzini as well as setting up ethical and sustainable models for the other restaurant, The Smoking Lobster.
His dive was his wake-up call.
Mine was different (as yours will be if you haven’t already had it.)
If you haven’t, please have this post be your wake-up call.
As business owners who use plastic, parents who run plastic filled houses and individual consumers who rule the world by the way in which we spend our money, its so important that we start (quickly) eliminating as much plastic-use as we can.
For the sake of our subterranean aquarium of life.
For the sake of our children.
For the sake of the lime-striped penny crabs.
For the sake of our breath.
Here are several ways that I’ve altered my house-hold to begin this mission of reducing my part to play in ecocide.
Please feel inspired to steal it – all of it – and then make up your own.
Eliminating plastic bottles.
When you see how much plastic we use in day-to-day life (especially with three children) you can’t UNSEE it. Everything seems to be packaged in plastic – especially liquids. My first action around this has been a complete elimination of plastic water bottles. It turns out that many major supermarkets FAIL to offer any bottled water in glass bottles, so I’ve started ordering them in through a beverage company. In 2018 I’ll look to install a water filtration thing in the kitchen so we can cut out the need for bottles completely. We’ve also eliminated things like plastic ketchup bottles and returned to old school glass ones.
My gorgeous friend, Lovely Sarah, has a company on the Isle of Wight called “Message In A Bottle – A Life Less Plastic“. She sells all sorts of plastic-alternative products including babies bottles and lunch box containers. Sarah once made me dress up as a mermaid with purple cowboy hat and sing Bob Dylan songs to raise awareness of plastic in the sea. You can watch that here, if you must.
Eco toilet paper
Initially I bought Renovagreen toilet rolls, but they came wrapped in plastic packaging.
Next time I’m going to buy Who Gives A Crap toilet roll as it looks like their packaging is all recycled paper and card. And their branding is rad – check them out!
My other bathroom move is going to be bamboo toothbrushes with biodegradable bristles from here – although I haven’t replaced these yet.
Fruit and vegetables purchased from the local green grocer in brown paper bags/ a basket
1 trillion plastic bags are produced every year. Most plastic bags have a “working life” of 15 minutes. Pretty much everything we buy in super markets is packaged in plastic, which means that returning to using local green grocers and other shops is essential for plastic reduction. Also, it’s a very lovely thing to do on so many other levels. It may not be as convenient as doing a Tesco Online Delivery (and requires making extra time in the week to go and buy stuff), but is worth is completely for these reasons:
1. Supporting real humans in your community instead of corporate giants.
2. A sense of being in France/Anne of Green Gables when you walk around with a basket full of veg.
3. The warm fuzzy feeling inside when you cook your vegetables and know you’ve helped support our beautiful Earth.
Finally … fabric sanitary towels
Love them or hate them, if you’re a woman of a certain age, periods will be making their visitations once a month. The average menstruating woman uses up to 12 sanitary towels per period. Sanitary towels take between 500-800 years to decompose.
What’s the alternative?
Popping a bleached chemical-laden bullet of cotton wool into one of the most absorbent places of my body has never appealed to me much, so no, I’m not a tampon user. What I’ve been using instead are fabric pads. The ones I use are from a little company called EcoFemme.
EcoFemme are a company based in south India.
By coincidence, their base is a stones throw from Auroville in Tamil Nadu where I lived for a time when I was 18 years old. It is the place that held me in the first few months of my pregnancy with Pix, before flying back to the UK after a rich, beautiful journey into the place that one branch of my ancestors inhabited.
I came across EcoFemme’s sanitary towels during a training on Menstrual Cycle Awareness, earlier this year.
They are so simple to use, comfy to wear and I absolutely LOVE them. They come in different sizes and absorbency for different points in your cycle and once you’ve used one, you simply rinse it and pop it into the wash.
Studies show that women spend around £18,450 on menstrual products during their menstruating years.
EcoFemme pads can be washed and used up to 75 times, meaning they can last you around 5 years.
And an added bit of loveliness? For every sanitary towel you buy from EcoFemme, they will gift one to a girl in the area who couldn’t otherwise afford to buy one.
The pads I purchased have been made available in the UK by an absolute goddess of a woman called Jane Legg. When I emailed her to ask for some photographs of the sanitary towels and a web-link to where people can buy them, she said she’d prefer if people emailed her instead as she likes to be able to answer questions and talk about the quantity and type of towels that you need for your individual cycle.
Here’s her super cute email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I suggest you email her, just because she’s a real life GODDESS!
So, these are the steps I am/have taken so far to make my home and personal life eco-loving.
My plan now is to approach Christmas with a completely sustainable, local and plastic-eliminating mind set.
In January I’ll design a game plan that reduces my plastic consumption down even more …
… and combats my biggest plastic challenge of all …
PURSUADING THE CHILDREN.
Watch this space!
PS. I want to add quickly that I don’t have any affiliate links on my website. All of the companies and products I’ve shared in this post (and my other posts) are simply people/organisations that I’ve used to reduce our plastic-use and improve our part to play in restoring the Gorgeousness of Humanity living on Planet Earth.
PPS. Final pic below is one I took of the little lime-stripped crabs that looked like little pennies on the rocks.