6 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Use (And Save Our Oceans)

6 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Use (And Save Our Oceans)

It’s time to get serious.

We all know that there’s a global plastic problem, and it’s impacting on our oceans more than ever. Forbes have recently reported on another whale found washed up on the coast of Spain, and the cause of death was determined to be ingesting 64 pounds of plastic waste. And this isn’t a rare occurrence either. Last year, a whale was found dying off the coast of Norway with 30 plastic bags in its stomach. Sea life is swallowing, choking on, getting tangled in, and trapped amongst our plastic waste on a daily basis.

There’s no beating around the bush here: we caused this. Every time one of us buys veg in plastic wrap, a plastic water/coke/lemonade bottle, a disposable coffee cup from Starbucks, or a plastic bag, we are contributing to the mammoth plastic problem.

A quick Google search will tell you that plastic takes up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills, and yet most of us use plastic items every single day. In fact, more than 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced every single year, and a measly 10% of that gets recycled, but a whopping 8 million metric tonnes end up in our oceans. We only seem to care about what’s in the ocean when we go for a dip in the Mediterranean and find ourselves floating amongst a dirty nappy and somebody’s absconded bottle of sun cream, but it’s a global problem, and one that we need to start thinking seriously about. So what can we do to cut down, and how can we help?

1. Actually reuse your bags for life.

This is a really easy one. They’ll save you 5p every time you do a shop, so there’s no reason to leave them behind. Or, if you’d rather, you can invest in a cute canvas tote bag if you want something a little more personal. There are tonnes or reusable bags on the market, so there’s no excuse to still be picking up new plastic bags every time we shop when we all have a drawer filled with 100 at home.

2. Pick up a reusable water bottle.

I haven’t bought a plastic bottle in months since I copped this bottle from Amazon. You can get them in a million colours and styles, so there’s something for everyone. I opted for this one because it’s a full 500ml, as some other bottles can be a little small. These are so handy to have because you can fill them up pretty much anywhere – ask in a coffee shop or bar and they will happily refill your bottle for you. This will save you money in the long run, as you’ll no longer have to pay for water when you’re out and about, and it also keeps your drinks colder (or hotter) for longer! Plus, if you didn’t know, plastic can release harmful chemicals into your drinks which can impact on your chances of having a baby and increase your risk of heart disease, so a reusable bottle is better for your health too.

3. Invest in a reusable travel mug.

Every year, 100 billion single use coffee cups make their way to our landfills. Even if you don’t pick up a coffee that often, having an eco-friendly travel mug on hand saves our land and oceans from one more plastic lid, and lots of chains have started offering money off your drink when you bring your own cup, so this investment could actually end up paying for itself. I got this super cute one from Amazon for the occasional hot chocolate I grab from Costa, and it keeps my drink hotter for way longer than your standard disposable cup. This one is made from naturally organic bamboo fibre, and it’s biodegradable.

4. Grab some metal straws.

I’m telling you, this has been one of the best purchases I have ever made. I picked these ones from Amazon because the packaging was plastic-free, the straws themselves come in a little bag that makes it so easy to pop them in my bag, and they even come with a handy little cleaner so I can clean them super easily. In the UK alone, we go through approximately 8.5 billion straws a year – a number which makes me feel sick to my stomach. Instead of dishing out plastic straws with every drink, we could easily make a swap to paper, or even better, these metal ones, to save a sea turtle from choking.

5. Opt for beauty products with less (or at the very least, recycled) packaging.

Taking a few steps towards a zero-waste beauty routine, or at the very least a zero-waste shower routine, would cut down on our plastic use drastically. Think about all the things in your bathroom that are made out of plastic: containers and packaging for liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, face wash, and so much more. Not forgetting that pesky plastic toothbrush. Pick a couple of things in your bathroom to replace with plastic-free options, and you’re already doing your bit. Opt for a luxurious bar of soap that comes packaged in paper wrapping rather than plastic, switch to shampoo and conditioner bars (Lush have a great range of zero-waste stuff, and of course they smell amazing), grab you and your family a pack of bamboo toothbrushes, and you’re well on your way to converting your bathroom to a plastic-free space.

6. Say no to plastic cutlery.

Disposable cutlery is so easily avoidable, so whether you opt for a wooden alternative or simply carry round a standard fork or spoon in your bag, it’s a really easy change to make. You can even get portable cutlery kits that come in handy little cases that you can carry about with you!

I’m well aware that most of these tips involve splashing a little bit of cash, and not everyone has the opportunity to do that. But every little change makes a difference, and just starting with the small stuff can help you on your way to bigger changes. I’m by no means suggesting that I’m some kind of zero-waste queen, but I try to do my bit where I can, and I think that everyone else can find small ways to chip in too. Just being more conscious of your plastic usage is the best way to start tackling our plastic problem.

Got any more tips? Let me know!

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Let’s Get Political

Let’s Get Political

I will have you know that I’m currently singing “let’s get political” to the tune of Olivia Newton-John’s Let’s Get Physical, so that’s where I’m at right now.

I’m not usually one to get political on my blog, but with the election looming there are a few things that I think we need to talk about.

I’m going to start off by saying that no matter what your political views are, this applies to you.

Now, the thing that really grates on me about politics is that people get so defensive about everything that their party does – they don’t try to understand the basic concept that there are pros and cons to each point of view. I’ve seen Labour and Conservative supporters alike utterly convinced that their party leader can solve all of the world’s problems like some kind of magical politics fairy. But, sadly, it doesn’t work like that.

To assume that the party you support is completely without flaws and everyone from all walks of life should support them is a very narrow minded and naive way of looking at things. No party is going to make everybody happy, no matter who becomes prime minister. Die hard Conservative voters completely disregard the merits of Labour, and vice versa, and there seems to be a general belief that one party must be completely angelic and the other is simply satanic, when that isn’t necessarily the case. People are quick to shun any opinion that doesn’t line up with their own in an attempt to make themselves look superior, and refuse to even consider the benefits that another point of view might have. Not everything that the Tories have done is evil, and not everything that Labour has done is a waste of time and money. It’s about trying to have a balanced view of things without automatically going out on the attack. You may not agree with certain policies, but the problem is that the majority of people don’t even try to understand the reasons behind the choices that politicians make. They don’t just go around making these big decisions willy nilly (although sometimes it might feel like it) – whether you agree or disagree with the choices they make is absolutely fine, but at least try to understand their reasoning before you lash out. You may not be happy with it, but at least you’ve made a conscious effort to see what they’re trying to do.

It’s okay to have strong views. I’m not saying that you should umm and ahh over something when you’re confident in your political stance, but what I’m saying is that you should be able to appreciate and respect other people’s opinions and political standings, rather than come out with generalised statements like “all Tories are heartless” and “all Labour voters are scrounging drug addicts”, because we all know that both of those statements aren’t true. Try to educate yourself on each stance in a balanced way before you let a few angry Facebook posts influence your decision.

The other thing that really grinds my gears is the way that people try to lug unnecessary and irrelevant information into politics, and try to use the pettiest of things to big up their own views and drag down somebody else’s. To be honest, I don’t care what shoes Theresa May is wearing or how Jeremy Corbyn chooses to groom himself, and you shouldn’t either. What do these things have to do with the way they will do their job? Are you really going to make such a big decision about who you’re going to vote for based on a pair of shoes or a suit? What matters is what they’re going to do for our country and how they’re going to make our problems smaller.

I try to be level and fair when it comes to politics, and I like to think that I can give each party praise where I think they’re deserving of it, and criticism where I think it’s necessary. No one is perfect, and in the same way nobody is completely flawed either, it’s all a matter of bias. Not everything you read on social media is true. Question the things that you read, check your sources, and do your research, because it’s all too easy for someone to make up any old nonsense in a feeble attempt to sway a few Facebook friends or bag a few retweets.

It’s also important to be careful of the way that you discuss politics with others, whether online or in person. Some attacks on those with differing political views are getting a bit too personal. The party that somebody chooses to vote for is not an excuse to be abusive towards them, or generalise them as being a malicious or senseless group. Somebody choosing to vote for one party over another does not mean that they are any less intelligent or don’t work as hard as you, and it is rude and misguided to make these assumptions. How are we supposed to work together to improve the way we run our country when we’re all pitting against each other?

Politics concerns everybody, whether you like it or not, and that needs to be taken into consideration. You need to understand that not everybody is in the same situation as you, and therefore they’re not going to think or vote in the same way as you. By all means, debate and challenge each other, but leave the petty, irrelevant comments and mindless abuse out of it.

 

Staring into the Face of Terror

Staring into the Face of Terror

I initially had a different post planned for today. But another topic seemed much more pressing.

The horror of last night’s incident in London is still sinking in for me. The terror of the Manchester bombing, in my very own city, in a place so familiar to me and full of so many happy memories, is still raw. The tears are still fresh, the fear is still there, and yet tragic events like this are becoming all too familiar.

We know the pure elation of seeing our favourite bands and artists in concert, surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of people who love them as much as we do. We know the thrill of the lights going down just before they come on stage for the first time, when everyone starts screaming and your heart starts racing with excitement. We know the unadulterated joy of singing our favourite songs back to the people we love, our voices mingled in with the rest of the crowd in a moment of complete bliss. We know the buzz of that post-concert euphoria: on top of the world, ears ringing, voice rasping, feet aching.

Similarly, we know the awe of walking around the big city, our jaws dropping at the skyscrapers and the old stone buildings, the hustle and bustle of business people and tourists alike drawing us in, hundreds of cultures surrounding us in food, dress, art, and history. We know the excitement of all the sights, whether we’ve seen them once or a hundred times, and that feeling that you just can’t quite put your finger on when you take in all of the city’s beauty.

We know what that feels like. And we can’t let the actions of a few select people, full of hatred and bitterness, take that away from us. We can’t let them stop us from living our lives, going to the places we want to go, and making memories with the people we love, because that’s how they win.

They can try time and time again, but we will always just dust ourselves off and carry on. It’s what we do here. Yes, we’re scared, but we won’t show it. We’ll just go about as normal, because it’s all we can do, and that’s how we demonstrate our strength. We’ll continue to show nothing but love despite their hate, we’ll pull each other through and open our arms to one another in the face of adversity. I know that it is easier said than done. Masking our fear and anxiety isn’t a simple task, but it’s all too easy to let our minds go into overdrive about what’s going to happen next, where the next target will be, and how close to home it’s going to hit. It’s a piece of cake to cancel our plans “just in case”, and stay home wrapped in bubble wrap and tissue paper, delicate and protected. But once we do that, they’ve got us under their thumb, and they’ve got us under their control. We can’t put our lives on hold just because something might happen. We are not delicate – we are hardy, persistent, and unshakable. We do not crumble.

The way Manchester responded as a community to the attack at the arena is far more important than the attack itself. The resilience, love, and support that was shown by Mancunians that night, and in the days since, has been overwhelming. On the night of the attack, I saw so many people offering up their homes to those who were stranded, had lost family members, or just needed a phone charger or a hot cup of tea. People were rushing complete strangers to hospital, comforting each other, and helping each other through pain and loss. Taxi companies were giving free rides to those who couldn’t make it home on public transport. The emergency services were incredible, and are still working so hard to keep our city safe and help the injured recover. Cafes and restaurants across the city have been offering up free food and drinks. There have been vigils, flowers, and balloons everywhere in memory of those we have lost. People from all over the city have been singing Don’t Look Back in Anger in their thousands, united by the music that has made this city so great. It has been one act of hate against millions of acts of love, and these are the things that we have to remember. I have never been prouder to call this city my home, to show the world what we’re made of, and to smother hate with love. And this is how London will respond after last night, just as it has done in the past. This is how we handle things in the UK. We get back up in the morning, complain about the weather, ask who wants a cuppa, and carry on like normal. Hate won’t win. Terror won’t win.

Some people will try to use these events as a force for hate. They will use the horror of these attacks as a way to promote and justify their xenophobic agenda, and they will bring suffering to the people who make up our communities purely based on their race or religion – making them feel unsafe, unwelcome, and guilty for crimes they did not commit. We can’t let that happen. We have to stand up for those who are made to feel so vulnerable and wrongly responsible for actions that are not, and will never be, their own. Terrorism has no race or religion.

We must continue to spread love and support each other, and not give in to malevolence. There is more that makes us the same than makes us different. What is important right now is that we all come together and take care of one another. The more that they try to make us hate, the more we must love.

Look after one another. We can’t afford not to.