What are the green alternatives to plastic?

BBC Radio 
This morning I was asked to do a radio interview for BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester regarding the government discussing a money back scheme for plastic bottles.

Short term 
I said that in the short term, I think that this is an excellent idea and very necessary.  Anything that will help to combat littering and schemes that engage people with recycling are good.

Elephant in the room
However, surely the bigger issue is that we need to move away from plastic altogether, not encourage people that it's ok to use plastics because they can be recycled. Here are some scary stats:

  • The production of plastic is set to double over the next twenty years, plastics economy  
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enters our oceans every year 
  • China has recently declared that it will stop taking plastic from other countries by the end of the year. China bans foreign waste (Thanks to Fran for sending this article) 
  • When burnt, (incinerated) plastics pollute our atmosphere.  Bear this in mind if they will no longer be going to China for recycling

Plastic bottle alternatives 
Most people do need to use some plastic bottles, but hurrah, there are plenty of alternatives.  Here are six ideas to start you off.

1. Stop buying plastic bottled water. Invest in a super cool aluminium bottle that you can fill up and carry with you.

2. Coke, lemonade etc etc.  Personally I don't buy these.  There was a lovely photo caption circulating on social media a while back which went along the lines of "You wouldn't give fizzy drinks to your dog or cat, you'd only give them water, so why would you offer them to your children?" I do occasionally use the odd bottle of tonic for G&T, but these can be bought in glass bottles or cans.

3. Ketchup.  We used to buy a well known brand, but when we started to consider the 'hidden' sugar content in our diet, we had to sit down after checking this one! We swapped for a much lower in sugar brand, which also comes in a glass bottle.  Here is further reading on why the famous brand might not be the best idea avoid like the plague.

4. Milk has traditionally been sold and delivered by dairies in glass bottles.

5. Salad cream We no longer buy this and instead have swapped to this amazing organic mayonnaise or occasionally I make my own.  This one is as close to homemade as I've found and it only comes in a glass jar. 

6. Rather than washing liquid which comes in plastic bottles, tablets which are wrapped in plastic or come in plastic tubs, we buy washing powder which comes in a cardboard box.  Quite a lot of people are experimenting by making their own now.  Here's a recipe: homemade laundry detergent.

Alternatives to some other plastics

Instead of buying bread which comes in a plastic bag (and let's face it, doesn't taste great), if you buy a bag of flour, it comes in a paper bag!  There is undoubtedly something incredible wholesome and meditative about making your own bread.  With practise, it gets a lot quicker (and tastier) too.

Buy toys made from sustainable / recycled wood, fabrics etc, or buy books.  If you have to have plastic, try at least to buy it second hand.  There are many studies on how children learn better with fewer toys, especially ones where they have to use their imagination.  The worst are garish, plastic toys that make a horrendous noise (I can't bring myself to call it music!).  Sing to your children instead, they will appreciate it a lot more and if you'd like to take things a step further, why not give a copy of one of the most famous children's books of all time, which could be construed as a comment on the capitalist society (greed, consumption, gluttony and excess etc) which then redeems itself by reverting to simple (green) pleasures and consequently becomes beautiful (inside and out).  Of course, try to get hold of a pre-loved copy ;)

Needless to say, ditch plastic bags for stronger, longer lasting, sustainable materials.  Don't forget to use them for other types of shopping too (not just food).

Ready Meals
Make your own by cooking double quantities and freezing, or store in the fridge and eat a couple of days later.

Radio interview
If you would like to hear the interview, here is the link BBC at around 31.43 (please note that this will only be valid for one month)


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