I watched A Plastic Ocean documentary on Netflix the other day for the second time. And I couldn't help it, I cried so much. Just watching how Dr. Jennifer Lavers on Lord Howe Island (World Heritage Site) pumps saltwater into the stomach of shearwater chick to get it vomit all plastic out. This was just one of many heartbreaking scenes happening as a result of human oblivious behaviour.
There is already so much plastic in our oceans that we most likely eat it in our fish and chips! You don't have to look for pieces of microplastics in your meal, it is the toxins which you can't see, released from plastic which end up in our food. Fish and sea birds mistaken plastic for food and they often die because their stomach does not process it and bloats. The record so far, Dr. Jennifer Lavers is saying in the documentary, is 276 pieces of plastic inside of one 90-day chick - 15% of its body mass. Compare it to a human body, it equals to 6-8 kilos in our stomachs. It's just unimaginable.
Me and my partner Mat were aware of this massive issue for few years now and always tried to recycle everything we bought, but we knew it is no way near enough. We started reading more about the issue and slowly started changing our lifestyle. We have always used our own bags for shopping but decided we have to make another step ( or more) so we started refusing buying anything in supermarket what is wrapped in single-use plastic. A perfect example is a cucumber. Why is it wrapped in the first place? Carrots and potatoes are not wrapped - because we usually peel them. We can peel cucumber too, so what is an exact purpose of that single use plastic?
We do shop at our local market, which still has lots of vegetables and fruit in plastic so we basically stopped buying most of the produce which is in plastic. It is a sacrifice, because we now can't eat certain things until we find a plastic free alternative. We bring our own containers to local butcher, bakery and cheese stall at the market. Farmers are not always friendly about it, but we are persistent and hope that more and more people will bring their own containers so farmers will stop giving out free plastic bags and will take containers from customers as a norm. I am really appalled when I see some of the shops with signs saying: We don't charge for plastic bags! As if it is a good thing. :(
We also started going to a local zero waste shop once in a while , where we bring our own containers and fill them with rice, pasta, herbs, nuts, etc. We are slowly using up all our shampoos and shower gels and creams and once used up, we will go for shampoo bars, soap bars, natural body butter in cardboard or metal containers.
Don't take me wrong, there is nothing wrong with reusable plastic. If you can use it over and over again, don't throw it away just to replace it for something else like glass. This actually makes it worse than better for the environment. We still use all our Tupperware for shopping (as I mentioned before, when we go to our local market) and refill our fabric softener bottle with softener in a zero waste shop. Always think about a purpose for your empty plastic bottle - what could you use it for after you have emptied it? Storage container, refill it?
The major problem which all of us can help tackle is to refuse single use plastic. You can start simply just with bringing your own tote bag when shopping and not buying 5p bags at the till. Or refusing to use a plastic straw when in the bar. Or check for ear buds made from bamboo sticks instead of plastic ones. That is already a HUGE impact. Surely you have seen this viral photo of a seahorse holding on a plastic ear bud instead of a sea weed. ;(
We need to change behaviour of big supermarkets. If you keep buying items which are unnecessary over-wrapped, they will simply keep selling them. Don't underestimate your power, because it is US who CAN make a change. Don't wait for somebody else to do it for you.
One of the major plastic problem which we had in our household was buying milk and juice. We have now founded a local milkman (yes, they still exist) and we get delivered milk (they do juice in glass too!) twice a week in a reusable glass bottle. It's a win win - helping a local farmer and not buying plastic. And it is not much more expensive than milk in a supermarket.
There is still so much we are battling with, but in a few months we have already reduced our recycling bin waste so much, that we take it out for emptying only once in 2 months and it is mostly full with glass and tins/cans! Our black bin (landfill) literally turned into a 'compost' bin. This is our next task, to have a compost bin so we can supply compost to our local public garden, so our 'landfill' bin will become mostly redundant.
As for Black Elephant, I have always tried to have as little plastic as possible whether when dyeing or posting orders. Only issue have been mailing bags, which I am using up now as I have now found biodegradable and recycled paper mailing bags so there will be no plastic when you order yarn from us.
My partner got so passionate about plastic free life that in two months he had managed to change his career 180 degrees and plunge into opening a zero waste shop in our local area as the one we used to travel to is just too far to shop regularly at. We are very excited to open in November.
And me, seeing him being so enthusiastic, I thought I will take my step further and Plastic Ocean Fundraiser has been created. I have been overwhelmed with so many of you supporting this cause. There is still 3 weeks to go to purchase one or more skeins of Plastic Oceans colourways - all inspired by colours in our oceans. You can find them in my Etsy shop. They will be also available to buy at Yarndale, Skipton - the last weekend in September. I hope to see you there!
From every skein sold I will donate £3 to Plastic Oceans Foundation which mission is to raise awareness on the issue of plastic pollution. Human Race needs lots of educating into this issue which effects every species on this planet.
Remember, There is no Planet B - be considerate and think about your grandchildren. Start now, because you can.