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big impact from your low impact and the daily changes we *can* make

Culture

5th May 2021

It’s only once you try position yourself on the plastic-free spectrum that you actually realise how much plastic we consume in our everyday lives. The sheer confusion you experience when you realise Tesco has given you a choice between apple-snack packs (plastic wrapped apple boats) inches away from an actual apple (sans plastique, which we’re 99.9999% sure does the same job). We’re totally aware of the fact that being a plastic user is *sigh* so much easier (mostly for the fact that it requires less thinking when shopping) but we’ve also started to take note of just how much of an impact this can have on our environment. I mean, we won’t say that all it took was David Attenboroughs grandfatherly advice…but we also won’t deny it. Roughly 8 million tonnes of plastic enters our oceans every year, which obviously sounds like a lot. But, like our continuously growing student loans (What’s that Greg from student finance? Oh yes, just add it to the tab!) these numbers are so grand that it’s actually quite difficult to conceptualise what that means in reality. We’ve done the quick n’ dirty maths so you don’t have to: 8 million tonnes of plastic is the equivalent of 40,609 london tube carriages worth of rubbish. Yikes. If you’re wondering why we aren’t literally swimming through rubbish when we hit the beach, it’s because only up to 245,000 pieces of plastic end up in the ocean in their entirety. Phew? Not really. Unfortunately, because most of the waste doesn’t get biodegraded (plastic products hang around for  at least 500 to 1000 years) the sad truth is that the rest of it gets ingested by our marine life, washed up onto coastlines or broken down into tiny little pieces that we can barely notice. Who wants to put a bloody halt to the sea-pocalypse with us?

It’s encouraging to hear that 72% of British people are more inclined to buy products with recycled packaging than non-recycled packaging, and that in most areas and homes there are recycling systems in place. The unfortunate thing, however, is that many of us view recycling in a way that’s constrained to the kitchen: food packaging waste. Most of what gets recycled weekly are the cans, milk cartons, wine bottles (oops, we, err, mean wine bottle), etc., but what gets largely forgotten are all of the other kinds of products we buy. Shampoo bottles, foundations, toothbrushes, and yup, menstrual products. The good news is this kind of recycling is on the horizon and luckily recycling and sustainability is becoming the new-trend that many companies are slowly looking to turn to. We’re hoping that unlike our chunky hair highlights that we adorned not long enough ago, this is the sort of trend that will stick.

Getting to know your way around being plastic-free isn’t easy, and it can be totally frustrating when you realise just how many of your favourite products, foods, and brands aren’t swinging that way just yet (why isn’t there a re-filling dispenser at boots for that one shampoo that doesn’t make your curls look like they’ve been electrocuted?!). And this is the thing – there is a definitely a spectrum of being plastic free, and like many things (veganism, vegetarianism, or just saying you’ll never drink again) there is a huge pressure to commit 100% or else you’re not doing your bit and the environment guilt starts creepin’ in. If you are thinking of being totally zero-waste huge kudos, because that shit is hard, and if you’re succeeding – well there should be a prize for that. However, remember that it’s also okay to do what your life affords you to do. Even little things like remembering to put your shampoo bottles in the recycling downstairs and not in the bin under your bathroom sink can make a difference (Side note: One really important thing to note is to also clean each item. Apparently one half filled can, or take away container can risk ‘contaminating’ an entire bale of recycling and it will all have to go into landfills instead!). Moreover, spending one afternoon looking at the sorts of products you buy or habits you have and seeing how many of them can a) be recycled or b) bought alternatively plastic-free is a worthwhile start. Check out this link for the how-to’s and what’s-what of recyclable in your home. If you know that the zero waste movement isn’t sustainable for you, try checking out the Low Impact Movement, which is about reducing your waste and plastic consumption as much as you can without punishing yourself for that accidental plastic cocktail umbrella that the barman insisted on giving you. Investing in reusable items is a main focus, and you’ll start to quickly notice in your daily life how much plastic and waste you are cutting out.

The lowdown on the environmental down-low

1.

Get yourself a bag-for-life (tip: your cute urban outfitters freebie tote works just fine – tried & tested or the ohne one is pretty beaut too). Apparently 5 trillion plastic bags get used every-year, and we’re pretty sure very few of them are recycled. Get one you really like that’s sturdy and big enough for your shopping, or even a backpack in case you often buy lots of tinned food or jars which can end up making the trip to the shops more of a work-out than you bargained for. Another big tip: keep it by your door. If you’re not used to using a reusable bag for shopping, your habits will show through and you may end up continuously forgetting. Having that little reminder just before you leave the house can make a whole’lotta difference.

2. 

For those coffee/hot choc/tea lovers out there – this one’s a biggie. If you’re often on the move, and prone to quick coffee-pit stops those devilish little cups can add up. Devilish because the U.K alone plows through 7 million of these a day, with most of them unable to be recycled. SO, invest in a reusable coffee cup. You can take them everywhere, and some spots will even give you a discount on your coffee if you do (and if not, ask! The more people that demand for it, the more it could happen). Good for the environment and good for your bank balance. If you can’t already tell, we’re sold.

3.

Following up as number 3; investing in reusable water bottles, cutlery and straws. These can be bought in most shops, or online. Be careful when using shops like Amazon or Ebay though, just because you’re buying a sustainable product doesn’t necessarily mean the packaging will be too (Seriously though Amazon, why do my vitamins arrive in a box the size of my nephew’s play kitchen?).

4.

Sussing out which shops you can buy your weekly food from. First off, most vegetables, eggs and grains do not actually need to be packaged. So there should always be alternatives to this. Eggs are already in cardboard packaging (score), so that’s less of a worry, but as for veggies and grains this isn’t as easy. Look around your local area for independent food shops that offer grain/seed/nuts/dried fruit/coffee/anything dispensers if you bring in your own containers. Sometimes these actually work out cheaper than buying the same products packaged. The thing to be wary of, of course, is that sometimes these stores can be a little on the expensive side. So if you have time, try and just buy what you can’t find elsewhere and do the rest in one of your local greengrocers where veggies and fresh fruit can be mostly bought plastic free. Side note: some of these independent stores also offer dispensers (and a small price knock-off) for household cleaning products. Buy the bottle once, bring it back for a refill.

5.

Make your bathroom environmentally friendly. Wet wipes, and products with microbeads (teeny, tiny plastic particles that are often used for gels, toothpastes, and exfoliants) should be avoided like the plague. Bamboo toothbrushes can also be a good alternative to your typical disposable ones which take thousands of years to decompose: totally guilt-free and still keep your whites pearly. Check out Acala Online for their bamboo brushes (and other products) because what’s more, even their packaging is sustainable and we are so down with that.

And finally, we’re also here to put a big fat stop to plastic periods (we’re talking 100 billion pieces of period plastic waste each year). We love our periods, and there ain’t no shame in the period game. But, we don’t love how we often have no choice but to use plastic when we’re on. And yeah, free-bleeding is definitely liberating, but there’s a time and a place and it just ain’t outside the comfort of our period-proof rooms. We’re lucky that the days of to little choice for most of us in the UK are over, but what’s a babe to do if she wants to go green?

Moon-cup

Resembles Marmite, a lotta’ love or some avoidance. It’s a little silicone cup that works through a suction mechanism, holding the blood inside it, rather than letting it free-flow out of your vagina. (We know suction is the game of how it works, but the thought of what happens when you’re doing a headstand during yoga…) Still, we’re big advocates as it’s a great one-time investment into menstrual sustainability. It costs £19.99 with the official MoonCup brand, but this one time investment will literally lower both your spending and your environmental impact.

Go Organic

If you’re a tampon kinda gal (hey, we feel you) then it’s time to go organic. Let’s start with no more single use plastic on your tampons, or in tampons. Not to mention the cocktail of chemicals that do the nasty on both your vagina and the environment. Our tampons are GOTS certified (the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria – so you know we ain’t messin’). That means that when we say OHNE tampons are made 100% organic cotton and nothing else (note: no plastic), they can vouch for us. To top that, our packaging is totally sustainable (think recycled cardboard boxes which are in turn recyclable, biodegradable shipping bags and applicator wraps and recyclable non-app films too).

If you aren’t UK based and can’t get ohne it with us but you’re keen to go organic, make sure you check out stores in your local area and ask specifically for certified organic tampons (don’t forget to check if the packaging is recyclable when deciding between brands). If going organic isn’t quite right for you yet, at the very least (and something even us organic babes need to be aware of) be a binner not a flusher. We totally get it – it’s so much easier to deal (or not deal) with our tampon (especially in public places or at your dinner dates home) if you can just flush it away. But we really, really, don’t want the fish to eat them (think of the sea turtles!). So take a little extra second to wrap that bad boy up (these bio disposable period bags are on point) and pop it in a bin. Let’s think about our little tampons and save our big oceans.

image credit @lillianlepham

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