Posted in Environment, Plastic free, Recycling, Upcycling

How you can be more sustainable this Christmas

We are living in a time where our economy continually perpetuates a false reality of limitless resources, where endless production of the next ‘must- haves’ and the modern convenience of a throwaway culture is normalised.

Buying new has become somewhat of an epidemic, an insatiable appetite that all of us, at times, struggle to quell. This has never been more apparent than at Christmas time.

The following are just some ways we can all try to be more sustainable over the festive period.

Top tips

  1. ‘ Sustainable Secret Santa’

If you are organising Secret Santa this year, then why not try making it a sustainable one? Ensure all gifts are preloved or handmade.

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Alternatively, collect all the money you would spend on Secret Santa and donate to charity, see point 4 for some inspiration!

  1. Wrapping paper

An often overlooked part of Christmas.

Consumers in the UK use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year. Invariably, the plastics and foils that are used to produce wrapping paper are not recyclable meaning vast amounts are thrown away to landfill which then takes decades to break down. This only contributes to the devastating, and scandalous, proliferation of our global waste crisis which is choking and contaminating the ecosystems we so desperately depend on.

It is ludicrous to think that a commodity with a life span of a matter of seconds has such a monumental and long – lasting impact on our environment!

Why not try wrapping your presents in recycled brown paper and adding decorative fabric ribbons that can used again? If you’re looking for something a bit more colourful, why not try sustainable gift wrap alternatives such as Lush’s beautiful Knot Wrap?

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  1. Christmas cards

Sending Christmas cards is a long – standing tradition dating back to the Victorian period. Again, due to their decorative nature cards usually can’t be recycled meaning approximately 1.5 billion Christmas cards are thrown away by UK households each year.

Cut down the cards you send this year. Look at sending e-cards or handmade alternatives instead. For example, Plantable Seed Christmas cards are made from seed paper, vegetable starch and recycled paper. Once you’ve finished with your card, plant it in the ground and watch it grow!

  1. Donate to an environmental charity

Give back to the planet by donating to your favourite environmental charity this Christmas. There are some wonderful tree planting schemes run by organisations such as Trees for Life, a beautiful project aimed at rewilding the Scottish Highlands.

Trees have the mind-blowing potential to head the fight against climate change. They have the capacity to capture Co2 emissions from the atmosphere, prevent soil erosion, regulate water cycles and flooding as well as provide safe habitats for wildlife.

With the UK being one of the most nature depleted countries in the world, supporting initiatives like this is critical in determining the future of our wildlife.

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  1. More Vegetarian and Vegan recipes!

Turkey, cheese, chocolate, pigs in blankets… all delicious foods and something we relish in over the festive period. Yet we are also no stranger to the damaging impact of meat and dairy on the environment. As demand for these industries has exploded over the last few decades, huge swathes of rainforests, wetlands and grasslands have been destroyed to make way for crops to support livestock and other consumer products such as palm oil. The environmental impact of agriculture and deforestation is colossal, contributing to a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.

There’s not only clear environmental arguments for reducing your meat and dairy consumption, but also huge health and economic benefits in doing so this Christmas. The plant – based diet is becoming increasingly more popular and accessible. Growing numbers of individuals, restaurants and supermarkets are now offering affordable and creative veggie and vegan alternatives. Why not follow Deliciously Ella and Fearne Cotton for some yummy recipes?

If the temptation is just too great over Christmas, try and buy organic meats and support small – scale farming wherever possible.

Note: When buying food try to avoid plastic waste. Bring your own containers and bags to supermarkets and buy loose fruit and veg!

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  1. Christmas Trees

There is some contention around whether plastic or real trees are better for the environment. The popularity of plastic has come from its unique resilience and versatility so if you have a plastic tree, continue to use it for as long as possible.

If you’re looking to purchase a real tree this year, environmental charity Friends of the Earth are advising to look for trees that have an FSC – certification. Try buying a potted tree with roots so you can keep growing it in your garden ready for next year!

As we head in to the New Year, what is more palpable than ever is the new age of environmental activism that is proliferating on a global scale. Although there are fundamental structural and political changes that need to happen to ensure the longevity of our planet, this new environmental consciousness is infectious and advocates an empowering notion that everything we do now will make a fundamental difference to our future.

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Posted in Environment, Plastic free, Recycling

Is recycling worth it?

As the severity of our plastic problem takes a prominent spotlight on the global stage, how we recycle in the West is now under intense scrutiny.

Our addiction to plastic is real. For over 6 decades we’ve relished in plastic’s versatility and resilience, so much so that a whopping 8.3 billion metric tonnes has been mass produced since the 1950s. Of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic that has been produced, 6.3 billion metric tons has turned in to plastic waste with only 9% of it actually being recycled. That means a staggering 91% of plastic waste ever made is either incinerated, ends up in landfill or becomes litter with most of it contaminating our ecosystems.

As a nation, we are recycling more than we can manage. British households are accumulating an astounding 22 million tons of waste each year. As a society, we are struggling to cope under a broken waste system. We significantly lack the necessary infrastructure to recycle the plastic waste we incessantly throw away on a daily basis. As a result, the West is shipping masses of plastic waste abroad.

 

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In October 2018, Greenpeace Unearthed found plastic packaging from UK recycling at numerous illegal dumping sites in Malaysia. Since China put a ban on waste imports from the West, countries like Malaysia are becoming the new developed world’s ‘dumping ground’ for its throwaway economy, with a recorded 88,000 tonnes of plastic exported from the UK to Malaysia between January – August 2018. The situation has only been exacerbated by Malaysia’s Environmental Secretary, Yeo Bee Yin, announcing recently that up to 100 tonnes of Australian plastic waste will be sent back due to contamination. Developed countries are exporting large amounts of contaminated, second – rate recyclable plastic which causes numerous environmental issues for countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

As a material, plastic can only be recycled a certain number of times, so we can’t keep recycling the same thing forever. Making new recycled goods out of the plastic we recycle also uses up a lot of energy and resources.’ – Greenpeace, UK

 

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Is recycling worth it?

 I recently contacted Greenpeace to ask in light of all of the above, is it worth recycling? Short answer, yes. There are good quality plastics, such as water bottles, that can be effectively recycled in UK facilities, and that is evidently better than the alternative i.e. sending it to landfill, incineration or abroad. Of course, recycling alone is not enough to solve the plethora of plastic choking our oceans; the only real solution is to stop using plastic. We must significantly cut back on the amount of single – use plastics being produced to reduce the immense pressure on our recycling systems and our planet.

 

Tips on how to manage and reduce your waste

 The complexities of UK recycling systems are universally felt. Recycling in the UK is a devolved, convoluted infrastructure that creates confusion as to what can and can’t be recycled. A BBC analysis found that there are 39 different set of rules for what plastic you can recycle.

Although frustratingly multifaceted and localised, there are a few things you can do to ensure you’re recycling effectively and ease the strain on our recycling facilities.

1.Find out what can and can’t be recycled in your area. Recycle Now is a great for this and provides useful advice on how to appropriately recycle waste and schemes to help you almost recycle anything.

2. Before recycling plastic items, make sure you screw the lids back on. This is important as small pieces of plastic, like lids, are too small to be recycled on their own. Recycle Now promote this as a general rule however of course, this can vary from area to area (I know, so frustrating!)

3. Look out for recycling symbols on packaging. Not all plastic packaging can be recycled easily. Which? has a really helpful guide on what the plastic resin symbols (1 -7) on plastic packaging mean and what you can and can’t put in your recycling bin. 1, 2 and 5 are recyclable.  Recycle Now also explains recycling symbols.

4. Wash out plastic waste. Make sure you empty and rinse your plastic. It doesn’t have to be spotless however excess food and waste can cause contamination which can render the whole recycling load as not recyclable.

5. Squash your plastic bottles. This stops bottles from rolling off the sorting machine conveyor belts and allows for more room and reduces carbon footprint.

6. Recycle at your local supermarket. Some types of film and carrier bags can be recycled at carrier bag collection points at larger supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.

7. Campaign for change by returning your single – use plastic. In response to BBC’s hard hitting documentary War on Plastic, my sister and I gave #OurPlasticFeedback by returning our single – use plastic to our local store. You could also bring your own containers to transfer produce (within reason of course) from its packaging at the check out. This is great way to raise awareness and breach the fundamental conversation with supermarket giants about how we can work together to reduce our plastic and protect our beautiful planet.

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8.  Reduce your plastic at home. The only way we are really going to make a difference is if we significantly cut back on the plastic we use and find sustainable alternatives.  Making simple changes such as swapping your shampoo bottle for a solid bar (Lush is great for this), shopping at the local market for fruit and  veg or using cloths instead of wipes. Making small changes individually is hugely effectively.

I always seem to end with quoting our lovely Sir David Attenborough but the below really resonates and consolidates the notion that all the big changes in history have started with the individual:

The actions of any just one of us may seem to be trivial and to have no effect. But the knowledge that there are thousands, hundreds of thousands of people who are doing the same thing – that really does have an effect.

Posted in Environment, Plastic free

How is our beauty regime fuelling plastic pollution?

 

Our global beauty industry produced a whopping 142 billion units of packaging last year. Forbes estimates it is worth $445 billion with the average British woman spending £70,000 on her appearance in a lifetime – that’s £1,352 a year.

With an estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic dumped in our oceans every year, the devastating impact our addictive cosmetics culture that is inevitably contributing to our plastic problem is exceptionally palpable.

As a society, we place huge value on looking good, but at what cost?

Our consumer lifestyle is having a profound, and shattering effect on our ecosystems. WWF report that 1 in 2 marine turtles have eaten plastic and 90% of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs. If we don’t change now there could be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050.

These sobering statistics can make resolving our plastic crisis feel daunting and almost impossible to do on an individual level. Yet cultural attitudes are already swiftly changing. Awareness is rapidly building on a global scale with individuals and organisations taking amazing steps to save and preserve our beautiful, natural world. The ‘Attenborough Effect’ is just one example of this which has seen 53% of people reporting using less plastic over the last 12 months following the powerful and tangible messages Sir David Attenborough communicates through his environmental documentaries such as Blue Planet II and Our Planet.

Now that ‘single – use’ became the word of the year in 2018 and BBC One’s hard-hitting and enlightening documentary War on Plastic has inspired an influx of individuals to take action and make sustainable changes, hopefully, it won’t be too long before our plastic addiction is a thing of the past.

Government legislation is vital to solving this issue yet the powerful notion that if we all change our daily habits together, we can make a strong and meaningful impact to help preserve and protect our beautiful planet.

Read on to discover my top 7 plastic free cosmetic products I’d recommend trying out. Admittedly, it’s been a challenge to find reasonably priced alternatives with only a handful of companies championing in this essential market. Nevertheless, I hope you find the below recommendations useful.

 

  1. Lush Naked Shower Gel £8.95

This is possibly my favourite plastic free cosmetic so far. I was slightly dubious at first about the longevity and resilience of this product however it works exactly in the same way as its liquid counterpart without the need for packaging. Once exposed to water the bar creates a lovely foam and lathers well. Although it is softer than a soap bar, if covered when not in use, it lasts for a long time. To preserve it, I cut mine in two and store the half I’m not using to protect it from heat and moisture. You can use one of Lush’s square tins to keep the half you are using dry in the shower.

 

  1. Reusable Cotton Rounds £5 – £16 (depending on how many you buy!)

 

Cotton pads and wet wipes are a common household and bathroom essential yet have been found to contain plastic and are responsible for 90% of the material blocking UK sewers. There are dozens of different types of wet wipes now on the market. Friends of the Earth revealed that US manufacturer Nice – Pak, the company that originally founded wet wipes, produces more than 125 billion wipes a year. This means that one year’s worth of wet wipes, from just this company alone, would stretch to the moon and back more than 24 times! Imagine how many wet wipes are thrown away daily and what impact this is having on our environment.

Reusable cotton rounds are durable, long lasting and great for cleansing. I’ve found cotton rounds are available mainly online with many UK based retailers offering a range of cotton rounds to suit cosmetic and other domestic needs (Etsy, Amazon UK and Peace with the Wild to name a few!). I suggest buying in bulk so you always have some in rotation. Try to choose cotton rounds that come with a breathable wash bag to make for easy washing and drying!

  1. Lush Slapstick Foundation £16.95

This medium coverage foundation is available from the Lush website and comes in 40 different shades; one colour to match every skin tone! Lush provides detailed advice and reviews on its website to assist with choosing your colour. As I am fair and have sensitive skin, I chose shade 4C. The number refers to your shade and the letter to your undertone.

Slapstick is an oval shape with a wax base and comes in a recyclable box. It is a moisturising yet breathable foundation which creates a soft, dewy glow to the skin due to its coconut and argan oil component. I was slightly hesitant at first to use an oily foundation however it is a light application and doesn’t clog up your pores. In fact, coconut oil is antibacterial which helps with spot prevention.

After 4 months of use, my Slapstick and its recyclable box are still going strong. Plus, you don’t have to apply much to achieve coverage. If you’re looking for a daytime natural look, this foundation is definitely worth a try!

 

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4. Ku.tis Natural Deodorant – £6.00 50kg

 Swapping routine and familiar branded personal care products such as deodorant can seem daunting however changing from the likes of Dove to Ku.tis natural deodorant has been a pleasant surprise. This deodorant is made from natural ingredients and comes in a paperboard tube that is 100% biodegradable and recyclable. I have been using this deodorant for a few weeks now and I continue to smell fresh throughout the day. This deodorant comprises of key ingredients such as bicarbonate of soda, arrowroot and coconut oil which provides lasting freshness without the bad stuff and essential oil blends that have antibacterial and odour fighting properties. I purchased my deodorant from Peace with the Wild however Ku.tis Skincare have their own website.

5. KiteNest Body Butter – £11.95

I’m so pleased I have found KiteNest! I have dry, eczema prone skin so finding a suitable moisturiser that won’t react with my skin, along with keeping it hydrated throughout the day, can pose as quite a challenge. The majority of the plastic free body moisturisers I’ve tried either come as a solid bar that melts to the touch (I find this density is sometimes too oily and doesn’t always soothe or hydrate the skin for very long) or in a tiny pot which I can get through so quickly! KiteNest Body Butter is a whipped, creamy consistency and comes in a decent sized metal pot. I went with 100% Natural which is made up of soothing ingredients such as coconut oil and shea butter. It’s incredibly soft to the touch and doesn’t aggravate my skin. KiteNest does have naturally fragranced options available which I’m looking forward to trying out.

KiteNest produces a fantastic range of products that are 100% natural, handmade and now completely plastic free thanks to their successful plastic free campaign. Check out their website for a full list of their products here.

FYI: I received a complimentary lip balm with my order which I thought was a very nice touch.

6. Lush Lipstick Refills – £8.50

Lush reports that around 1 billion lipstick casings are thrown away each year. Lipstick refills are an easy and innovative way to reduce plastic waste. Lush has introduced a lipstick refill in 40 versatile shades. The refill is dipped in peelable wax which makes for easy application and allows you to reuse your old lipstick tubes. I went for colour Linz which feels moisturising and creates a matte finish. Priced at £8.50 it feels high quality and stays on my lips far longer than other commercial lipsticks I’ve used. If you’re looking for something other than lipstick, Zao Makeup also offers lip balm, gloss and polish as well as lipstick refills at slightly higher prices.

 

7. Ku.tis Soothing Wash Grains – £8.00

 This soothing face scrub is packaged in a recyclable glass pot and aluminium lid. Rose and Oat soft loose grains are a combination of finely ground plant powders and include Kaolin Clay which gently cleanses and exfoliates the skin. You place a teaspoon of the grains in your hand with a few drops of water which transform the grains into a paste. You then massage the paste into the skin using a warm cloth to remove. As it’s not harsh on the skin you can use it as a daily cleanser or if you want a deep cleanse, leave the paste on your face for a few minutes before washing. Because it leaves my skin so soft after use, I feel like I only need to use a couple of times a week along with my usual skin care routine! Again, you can buy this from the Ku.tis website however I sourced mine from the lovely Peace with the Wild!

 

Can’t find a suitable plastic free alternative to the cosmetics you currently use?

Why not try writing a letter to your favourite cosmetic brand asking them what they are doing to reduce their plastic waste? Don’t underestimate the power of your voice.

What is your favourite plastic free cosmetic? Comments and suggestions below are most welcome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Plastic free, Upcycling

Review: Plastic Free Lush Slap Stick Foundation

My mission for this year is to phase out, as much as possible, plastic products from my daily routine and find plastic free alternatives.

It is in many ways posing as quite a challenge. Plastic seems so integrated in to our way of life. Arguably, on a superficial level, plastic is one of our most successful inventions. It has boosted the likes of our economy, made our day to day lives easy and efficient and has aided and abetted our consumerist culture. However ironically it is now transforming into one of our greatest problems and could ultimately be our downfall if we don’t change the way we currently do things.

There are many companies that are progressing as real pioneers against the war on plastic. Cosmetic giant Lush, without a doubt, is definitely a champion in this developing industry.

I’ve always been a great advocate for Lush and their cruelty – free products as well as its attitudes towards fair trade and the environment. When I heard it had developed a foundation, Slap Stick, that is completely free of plastic packaging, I had to try it!

Choosing your shade

This product is only available from the Lush website, which at first made me slightly dubious buying it without doing a patch test first. However Lush provides a lot of helpful advice and reviews when choosing your colour. The foundation is available in 40 different shades, seemingly one colour to match every skin tone!

As I have pale, sensitive skin, I went for 4C. The number refers to your shade and the letter to your undertone. Lush advises:

There are four families of Slap Stick shades: dark, medium – dark, medium – light and light and within each family there are ten different shades, numbers from the deepest ton (40) to the palest tone (1).

I chose tones and my shade from the light range by comparing my skin to the pictured guide of Lush staff modelling the different colours. I then went on to choosing my letter. The Lush guidelines state:

There are three different undertones to consider: ‘C is for cool, N for neutral and W for warm. Undertones have nothing do with the temperature and don’t change over the seasons like your surface skin tone sometimes does. Instead, undertones refer to whether your skin leans towards the Cooler, pink, red or blue side, the Warmer, golden, yellow or peachy side, or falls somewhere in the Neutral middle of this shade spectrum, balancing both tones.

The Lush website helps you identify your undertone. As I am fair, I don’t tan very easy and my veins do show up blue. With this in mind, I decided to go for the cooler hues.

Packaging and application

Slap Stick arrived in a little black recyclable cardboard box. The foundation itself is an oval shape with a black wax base. From looking at the pictures on the website I was a little concerned as I thought it might have the potential to be more of a matte consistency and aggravate the dry skin around my nose. Yet the foundation is very easy to apply and glides over the skin. It is a mixture of moisturising oils such as coconut oil which is antibacterial and doesn’t clog up pores.

I suffer from an oily forehead at times however it is a light, breathable foundation and doesn’t create excessive shine. It might be worth combining it with a powder if you do have particularly oily skin. I have found it does act as an effective base for any additional make up such as blush or highlighter.

Make sure you keep Slap Stick out of direct sunlight and away from heat. The ingredients, which soften at body temperature, have the tendency to melt.

Verdict

Overall, a medium coverage foundation, not too heavy, creates a natural glow and is ‘buildable’. At £16.95, it’s perhaps not the cheapest foundation on the market but I always like to invest a little more when it comes to my skin. Plus, you don’t have to apply very much to achieve coverage!

The website was pretty spot on when assisting in choosing my colour but next time, I may go for a slightly darker shade as we head in the warmer months.

If you’re looking for a natural look and a plastic free alternative, this foundation is definitely worth a try!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Environment, Plastic free, Travel, Uncategorized

Ways to Reduce Your Impact When You Travel

When we think of travelling the world we envisage countries immersed in diverse culture, lined with white sands and unbelievably tranquil waters; beautiful places far away from that relentless ‘9-5’ life. Discovering SE Asia was nothing short of all of the above. Yet for me, my experience was tainted by the sad reality of one of humanity’s greatest addictions: plastic. And it was everywhere.

The more popular the route the more crowded and uncared for. Admittedly, a lot of the places that my partner and I visited were in parts disappointingly anti – climactic. Only when we went off the beaten track (so to speak) did our immediate surroundings feel somewhat untouched and as they ‘should’ be.

Bali, an extremely popular destination for travellers, is a strong example for me in terms of challenging, even changing, my perspective of the travelling experience today.

Bali evokes the cliché of paradise, the classic image of Julia Roberts wandering Padang Padang beach. Yet Indonesia produces around 130,000 tonnes of plastic (contributing up to 12 million tonnes entering our oceans each year, that’s a truck load every minute) with only 50% reaching legal dumping grounds. A virtual lack of investment in municipal collection and recycling systems means the local populace have little alternative than to throw most of their rubbish into rivers and the sea. This alongside poor government regulation and lack of awareness ensures this sad statistic is ubiquitous across the island. We witnessed a plethora of plastic from bottles, bags, cigarette ends, sachets, flip flops (you name it) littering beaches, clogging up local waterways and contaminating precious eco systems.

The scale of plastic concentration has become so critical in some areas of Indonesia that the Army has been deployed to tackle the issue i.e. Bandung’s colossal plastic iceberg.

We are now no stranger to the devastating impact this is having on marine life. Plastic is making its way across the food chain, from turtles becoming entangled and choking on fishing nets to creatures ingesting tiny pieces of plastic, infecting stomachs and causing premature deaths. Recent research has shockingly detected microplastics in human stools exposing the chilling reality that plastic may spreading in the human food chain too.

This side of exploring the world isn’t communicated nearly enough. Travellers (myself included) quite often neglect to share these uncomfortable truths on social media, or when we finally come home to tell of our exciting adventures in our somewhat removed urban lifestyles.

Of course, you only have to watch haunting documentaries like the BBC’s Drowning in Plastic (link) to realise the sheer scale of the crisis. We must face the reality that we are all key players in this tragedy. From the packaging we dispose of, to the products we use and the clothes we wear – this is a universal issue. Yet to witness the plastic devastation unfold in real time, to see our beautiful planet depleted in the name of profit, capitalism and greed, is quite an emotional and uncomfortable experience. As travellers, we are guilty of contributing to this ever-growing problem.

How can we minimise our plastic impact when we travel?

Perhaps the immediate response would be to not travel at all. It would certainly significantly reduce our carbon footprint if nothing else. However, in this changeable 21st century context, where the revolution of globalisation and technology is now so imbedded into our way of life, is it possible to completely stop? You could also argue that the human need to discover has always been a huge part of our identity; you only have to look at our history to attest to that.

We all have a collective responsibility to ensure we keep waste and extravagance to a minimum. For the times that we do inevitably book that plane ticket, we absolutely must be mindful of what and how we consume to ensure that we tread as lightly as possible. We simply cannot continue to behave as if we have another planet to go to.

Tips on how to travel more conscientiously and reduce your plastic consumption.

When travelling around SE Asia, the perpetual reality of plastic production and our incessant throwaway culture is so painfully prevalent. Big companies are crudely known to sell millions of plastic products for dirt cheap to local Indonesian households and businesses. This, along with Indonesia’s notoriously poor waste management system, makes attempting to reduce your own plastic consumption as a traveller quite daunting.

Yet perhaps there are a few small steps we can take to reduce our impact when travelling the world to help preserve and protect its beauty:

  1. Refuse plastic bags

Whatever you buy in Asia, more often than not, it will be given to you in a plastic bag. It seems obvious but ensuring you’re carrying a bag large enough to not have to accept a plastic one feels so simple, yet it can be hugely impactful. The 5p plastic bag charge in the UK has seen phenomenal results. Government research shows that Supermarket giants (including the likes of Asda, Tesco and Sainsburys) reduced their plastic bag sales by 83% in 2016/17, that’s over 6 billion plastic bags less per annum entering our oceans. Of course often there’s not the same financial incentive attached when travelling abroad, however I think it emphasises the point that a simple act such as refusing a plastic bag is no small feat.

  1. Bring your own reusable bottle

SE Asia is renowned for its dodgy water supply. As travellers, to prevent the dreaded upset stomach, you tend to avoid water out of the tap like the plague. Sadly, it then seems almost unavoidable to not buy plastic bottles when you’re travelling around Asia’s hot and humid climes. You can buy reusable bottles with their own filter built in and look out for hostels and restaurants with water purification systems where you can refill you bottles, we came across a few!

  1. Get involved in environmental clean ups

Seminyak Beach, Bali, was a pinnacle moment for me in terms of experiencing first-hand the sheer scale of the plastic pollution in Indonesia. A plastic tide of rubbish choked and contaminated what should have been a breath-taking seascape. The habitual and infamous fly tipping during the rainy season sees tonnes of rubbish washed up daily on Indonesian shores.

We came across the grassroots campaign ‘One Island, One Voice’, a network of local organisations active in waste prevention and management, and were fortunate enough to be in the area when one of its 120 beach clean ups were facilitated. This year alone they have mobilised 20,000 participants (a significant rise from the 12,000 who participated in 2017) and have collected 65 tonnes of rubbish. Disappointedly, my partner and I were only two out of four travellers who turned up to help on the day. Hopefully as the campaign grows and awareness builds, so will engagement from travellers.

When on the Gili Islands we found the commendable NGO Gili Eco Trust with a programme offer dedicated to conservation and preservation. We took part in Island clean ups including a coconut plantation on Gili Trawangan where rubbish from the Island’s main dump contaminated the area. As well as waste management, the Trust is committed to reef restoration and implementing Biorock work which you as a traveller can play a key part in!

  1. Power to the consumer!

Many cafes and restaurants in Bali and the surrounding islands were actually pretty clued up in terms of their plastic waste management. Almost every place we went to had an alternative to plastic straws. As with individuals, companies have a huge responsibility to be environmentally conscious and change how they source and produce their products. As a consumer, you have the power to influence business decisions, even abroad. Online platforms such as TripAdvisor can be a powerful tool, not only for deciding where you go for tea. Perhaps if you notice a restaurant or hostel that could do better in terms of its environmental practices, be sure to give them feedback. The dreaded immortality of the online review will hopefully challenge businesses to be more proactive and take action.

Whether abroad or at home, the perpetual nature of our plastic problem simply cannot be ignored any longer. The scale of the issue we are facing is unprecedented, but not impossible to curb. You may feel your individual actions are small and ineffectual yet as David Attenborough movingly states in a video posted by the BBC promoting its Plastics Watch campaign:

The actions of any just one of us may seem to be trivial and to have no effect, but the knowledge that there are thousands, hundreds of thousands of people who are doing the same thing, that really does have an effect’.

What are you doing to reduce your plastic consumption abroad and at home? Tips and ideas are most welcome!

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Posted in Environment, Uncategorized

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot…”

I believe there is possibly nothing more urgent at this time than preserving and protecting our beautiful, natural world.

Our capitalist, throwaway lifestyle has become insatiable, relentless and hard to control at the expense of ourselves and our planet.

As the Climate Crisis escalates, as a species we are dependent more than ever on a healthy, sustainable planet and the precious ecosystems that make up its rich tapestry.  It feels as though we have moved to such point where we have lost sight of this fundamental reality and have become removed from an environment we have evolved from and that is the very essence of our future on this planet.

‘Unless’ is about building awareness, finding sustainable, affordable alternatives and making small differences every day.

From the wise words of Dr Suess:

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

I hope you find this blog useful in helping you tread lighter and live better. Comments, suggestions and connections MOST welcome.