One small step for your house, one giant leap for the environment! Let me explain. If you haven’t heard all the news on plastic and climate change over the last year or so, you’ve clearly been spending WAY too much time listening to Brex… (Ok, I won’t say it). Essentially, we humans need to stop behaving like robotic consumers and clean up the mess we’re making to leave a decent and inhabitable Earth for our kids and grandkids.

Many people feel helpless. Many feel like it’s not up to them, but with The Shift I want to show people that if we work collectively, we can make a huge difference. Just look at Children in Need – we all sit on our sofas and donate a few quid and it is completely life-changing for many others. My point is that if just 20 individuals start buying bars of hand soap instead of liquid soap in a pump-dispenser, that’s a fair amount of plastic saved over those lifetimes. So then imagine what 2,000 people could do if they made one or more of the changes I suggest on The Shift! There would be enough of a shift (see what I did there?) in consumer behaviour for the companies to notice. It’s all about sticking together and giving power back to the people!

Here are 5 of the easiest things you can change for the better. Choose a tip, put it into practice and tell your mates over a cuppa. Let’s get this going!

HAND SOAP 

Instead of wasting plastic by using disposable pump dispensers, return to the good old bar of soap. There is much research to show that ‘antibacterial’ liquid soap is NO more effective at removing bacteria than soap bars, and it’s carbon footprint is around 25% higher. Bars of soap are cheaper and last a whole lot longer: it’s a no brainer!

GO THE EXTRA MILE

Look for soaps with minimal packaging or at the every least, paper wraps – some come wrapped in plastic. Faith in Nature tick all of these boxes.

FURTHER READING
– The Huffington Post
– The Telegraph

COFFEE CUPS 

You’d be hard pushed to have missed the uproar about coffee cups recently, but if you did, here’s a quick reminder.

Back in 2011, an estimated 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups were thrown away, and that figure has most likely risen substantially now. Over 99% of those cups are not recycled. (More info here)

  1. Buy a reusable coffee cup and keep it in your bag. Always! No excuses!

THE SHIFT LIKES:

– LEON has a bamboo coffee cup from John Lewis and a LEON KeepCup available in most restaurants.
– The CLEVER, collapsible Stojo Coffee Cup.
– The Eco-Coffee Cup

Quick tip: LEON offers 45p off your coffee when you bring in a reusable coffee cup.

MEAT 

The stats behind this are insane. If no-one on Earth ate meat or drank dairy, the global farmland areas could reduce by more than 75%, which equates to an area the size of US, China, European Union and Australia combined – (HOLY SHIT!) – but the most amazing thing about this is that the remaining farmland would still be able to feed the whole world. In short, plant-based farming is hugely less demanding on the planet’s resources. Claiming back land as wild areas would reverse some of the mass wildlife extinctions we are currently experiencing, and a whole load more trees would help absorb some of the CO2 we’re pumping into the air. And environment aside, who doesn’t love a forest?

Now, I’m not suggesting you give up eating meat entirely, and if you can barely go without meat for a meal, start small. Try Meat-free Mondays. Just one day a week will make a small difference. And you never know, you might like it and try it more frequently.

HOW NOT TO MISS MEAT
– Anna Jones is, in my eyes, a wonder in the kitchen. I can’t rate her recipes enough.
– The excellent LEON has published a brilliant book about cooking quality veggie food, quickly: Fast Vegetarian
– More veggie and vegan cookbooks recommended by The Independent

FURTHER READING
– The Guardian analyses the facts
– Which meats are best for the environment?

SANITARY TOWELS & TAMPONS 

Yup, you guessed it. Unless you’re using eco brands, your STs and tampons contain plastic. And not only that, many marine biologists have found such delights floating round in reefs. So, not only are we putting plastic and chemicals into a super-sensitive part of our bodies, we are also flushing them into rivers and seas. What’s the answer? There are a few good ones to choose from, thankfully.

  1. If you want to use tampons and sanitary towels, use eco brands. We like Naty & Natracare
  2. NEVER flush your tampons or sanitary towels. If they get through the sewers (which they frequently clog up) then they could quite feasibly end up in the sea. Wrap ‘em and bin ‘em
  3. Try a menstrual cup.
  4. Try period pants. Personally, I’m a fan, they are life-changing!
  5. Try reusable sanitary pads.

To find out more info on this, check out City to Sea’s brilliant Plastic Free Periods campaign, where you will also see a great video of 4 people trialling the different alternatives.

LAUNDRY & MICROFIBRES 

You’ve heard about microfibres, right? Those tiny pieces of plastic, less than 5mm long, that seem to be a hot topic right now? Well, unfortunately, they’re getting EVERYWHERE, and the ones often found in our clothes are being shed into the water system every time you do a wash. They eventually end up in the seas and rivers, harming aquatic life, and now there’s some more alarming news.

The results of a study looking at microfibres in humans was published in October 2018 and has found the problem is more serious than originally thought. Participants showed up to 9 different plastics in their poo. More on that here.

Our bodies are collecting these microfibres from various places – beauty products, plastic food packaging, water bottles, as well as from our laundry.

The main fabric culprits are polyester and acrylic (including when blended with cotton or other materials). So it’s worth thinking about this when you buy your next piece of clothing. But, you don’t need to throw all your polyester garbs into landfill just yet.

THERE IS A SOLUTION!

The Guppy Bag is here! Put your polyesters into this genius little bag when you launder your clothes, and it will stop those pesky fibres from entering the water system. Find out more and buy one for yourself here.

The Cora Ball is also here! Chuck this baby into your machine and it guarantees to catch one third of the microfibres released into your machine.

DID YOU KNOW…
In 2016, the BBC reported that on average UK washing load – 6kg (13lb) of fabric – can release:

  • 140,000 fibres from polyester-cotton blend
  • nearly half a million fibres from polyester
  • more than 700,000 fibres from acrylic

Gulp.

More tips on doing laundry here.

To find out more, visit www.wearetheshift.co.uk

Follow on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for extra tips and info.