Summer is, without a doubt, my favourite time of year. I absolutely love the heat and the long daylight hours. To me, summer means gardening in the evening after the kids have gone to bed, dinner al fresco, brunching at the Farmers’ Markets on a Sunday morning and family trips to the beach with a very happy little dog.
Us Kiwis are so very proud of our stunning coastlines and beautiful beaches; I remember how anxious we all were a few years ago when the ship Rena capsized so close to our east coast shoreline. We all feared the immediate and long-term consequences and the disaster received urgent media attention and coverage. Interestingly, most of us aren’t so worried about a much greater threat to our beloved beaches: PLASTIC.
Plastic has now become so ubiquitous as to be almost invisible. There is no denying it has transformed our modern lives for the better in so many ways. Unfortunately, our excessive use and waste of plastic is completely unsustainable, and our oceans and the marine life in it are already suffering as a result. A big problem is that although plastic can degrade quite quickly in the right conditions, it doesn’t actually BIOdegrade.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
It means that pretty much all the plastic ever made still exists today. Every coke cap you ever unscrewed, every ballpoint pen that ran out of ink, every toothbrush you ever used – they’re all still here, somewhere. There’s a good chance that some of it is floating about in the Pacific Ocean right now, along with hundreds of millions of metric tonnes of other plastic waste that’s bobbing around in the currents or being washed up on the shores of someone else’s coastline.
Instead of shrugging our shoulders and believing that the problem is bigger than us, we need to acknowledge how much responsibility we all have as individuals for the health of our beloved environment. And how much we can DO, with a little effort, to protect and support it. I won’t pretend I can live without plastic, but here are some of the ways I try to reduce my plastic footprint:
- I don’t really drink water on the run but when I have to, I drink from a glass bottle and my kids have stainless steel bottles.
- I don’t buy plastic clothes. As in, I avoid: polyester, nylon, polypropylene, and any other fabric that will release little plastic fibres into the washing machine.
- I always refuse plastic bags when I’m out shopping, opting instead to put my goodies into my handbag or reusable cloth bags.
- I consciously buy items with as little packaging as possible. With food, I try to buy in bulk and I use paper or cloth bags when I can.
- I don’t use shampoo or cosmetics packaged in plastic and I brush my teeth with soap! I make my own deodorant, sunscreen, and face cream from raw (edible) materials.
- We don’t have tinned food in the house and instead I’m learning how to make preserves. I store food in glass, stainless steel, ceramic, or cloth.
- I am a dedicated customer of the Waikato Farmers’ Markets and I try to shop local.
- I make as much food from scratch as I can – bread, kefir, mayonnaise, relishes and jam. I’m also trying to grow as much food in our little garden as I can.
This summer, challenge yourself to do something to reduce your plastic footprint this summer. Every little thing you do will make a difference, forever!
By Esther Vreede (Mrs Goodness)
For more great environmentally friendly tips and ideas go to Esther’s website