• Esther Jacobs

A Plastic Free Girl in a Plastic World

You’ve no doubt seen posts on social media about going plastic free. But what is it all about?

It’s a chance for us all to help out mother nature, by refusing single-use plastics, during this worldwide movement. Plastic is non-biodegradable, which means it takes hundreds of years to break down, and currently is a huge hazard to our environment, especially our sea life. So avoiding it gives you a feel-good factor, when you know that every little piece you refused helps save our planet.

I’m sure a question many of you will ask yourself is ‘where do I begin?’

I started off by investing in a reusable coffee mug and a couple of reusable shopping bags. I love my cute, bamboo coffee mug with its penguin print. My shopping bags have pretty patterns and colours, and fold up into a little pouch that fits into my bag or pocket. So they’ve become a bit of a fashion statement for me to say ‘not only do I look good, but I’m helping save the world at the same time!’.

Then I started to become very conscious of just how much single-use plastic we use… bottles, food wrappers, take away containers… the list goes on. So next on my shopping list was a reusable water bottle, a steel one, with a carabiner, which has proven to be very useful for hanging the bottle from my bag or belt loop. I sometimes pop mint leaves or cucumber in with my water. Certainly a lot fancier, tastier, and healthier, than a plastic bottle of shop bought water. Especially considering that plastic leaks all sorts of nasty chemicals, that I’d rather not be ingesting.

A great thing that I turn to way more than I ever did, is my local produce retailers and

farmers markets. I used to pop to the supermarket for my meat and fish, which are almost always wrapped in plastic. Now, I take my own tubs or wrappers to the butcher or fishmonger, and have a conversation with the retailer about what I’m looking for. I pick my own cuts of meat, choose the best fish, get the freshest vegetables and fruits, all while supporting small, local businesses.

Another unpleasant plastic item I became much more aware of, was polystyrene, a.k.a Styrofoam. It’s such a cheap way to package something, so lots of companies use it, especially to package takeaway food. Now, I always take my own tubs with me if I go for a takeaway, to the deli, or if I’m eating out and know I’m likely to need a doggy bag. Once again, it’s a lot healthier than Styrofoam, which leaks its potentially harmful chemicals even quicker than more rigid plastics.

You know what can be really fun? Making your own toiletries.

Did you know that you can make your own deodorant with 1 tbsp bicarb of soda, 5 tbsps cornflour, 2 tbsp coconut oil? Just rub some on your armpits with your fingertips. You can even add a few drops of tea tree oil to smell extra wonderful.

There’s even a toothpaste recipe: mix equal parts baking soda and coconut oil into a paste, then add 5 drops of peppermint extract, per tbsp of paste. So simple, and if you look at the ingredients in your big brand toothpaste, then you’ll understand how much better this is for your teeth.

There are many more DIY toiletries and personal care items out there if you search the web, and it’s really a lot of fun to make them. Try experimenting with different natural essential oils to add as scents, to find your favourite combinations. You’ll avoid all the awful added toxins, such as aluminium in deodorant and parabens in just about everything else, and reduce your use of plastic, while saving money. It’s win win!

We collaborate with Go Dive Mossel Bay, to make DIY products each month for the interns to learn recipes and start making their own.

So why go plastic free?

Save the environment: with all the plastic ever made still in existence, and millions of tonnes more plastic being produced every year, landfills cannot keep up. An average of eight million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every single year, harming our seabirds and marine animals.

Eat healthier: avoiding plastic packaging, means you’ll likely have to avoid junk food and ready meals, since much of it is wrapped in plastic. Why not cook extra for dinner so you can keep a portion for your lunch the next day too, as an added benefit.

Save money: making meals at home to last a few dinners and lunches, and making your own toiletries, really does save money. You’ll also avoid paying for plastic bags, and often receive a discount at coffee shops, when you bring your own mug.

Support small businesses: butchers, fishmongers and farmers markets usually have more local produce and fresher goods without preservatives, so they’re healthier. Also, the money you spend is more likely to stay local, and ends up back in your community.

Feel great: the more you manage to cut plastic out of your life, the better you will feel about yourself. It really is amazing to know you’re doing your part in helping save the planet, and everything in your life just feels more natural.

I hope I’ve given you a few ideas to get started on going single-use plastic free.

Good luck everyone!

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