My completed Plastic Free Month!

This month!

I have to say, this month has been fantastic. I would never have been so strict or researched so much if it wasn’t for doing this for charity. I wouldn’t have felt so bad when I made the mistakes either though! I don’t think food or clothes shopping will be quite the same again. It has been really hard, but would have been boring if it wasn’t! I’ve seen a change in myself and even my friends in what they’re buying too…. and sending me photos of ridiculous packaging.

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I am looking forward to having my spice rack back… but I’m googling where I can get them in bulk/fresh in the future etc.

I have realised that I need a lot more space than the one freezer drawer I have at uni to help not needing packaging. Picking up fresh herbs and freezing them has been fantastic this month and would be great to have more space to freeze more.

I’m still getting used to shampoo and conditioner bars, I’m either using too much or too little and having to deal with the consequences. But it’s a no brainer that I’ll  be sticking with them. Shops like Lush are pretty much all around me so I have no excuse to be going back to liquid forms. They’re also easier to carry with me and are probably (though will need to do more googling)  gentler on the environment too. They aren’t particularly expensive and mine have lasted well over a month so far.

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Above is a photo of my deoderant and toothpaste & brush. I bought them from Boobalou. I really like the deoderant, worked really well for me. And the tin, when finished will come in handy for carrying my conditioner bar when i’m not using it. The toothpaste, i have liked. It took a while to get used to it and my teeth feel clean after it. I am hesitant to use products like this long-term in case they aren’t as good as the standard toothpastes. So i think I’ll do some more homework before re-buying it but i would definitely be happy to otherwise. My bamboo toothbrush is great. Again, it’s soft and took a bit of getting used to but would definitely buy it again. The deodorant and toothpaste i have been using for over a month too… just to show that they have lasted a really decent amount of time.

Washing up liquid. I’m going to trial around. I generally wasn’t very keen or impressed with the homemade washing solution. Left all of my stuff feeling grubby. But it’s definitely worth considering for the benefits. It made me clean my dishes straight away or use the power of boiling water a lot more…. So swings and roundabouts.

I have rediscovered my love for creating and baking my own things. Baking bread and making humus in particular. When they’re created by someone else they will always, to me, be loads nicer, but that could definitely be more of a treat than rather than how regularly i was buying them in before.

As long as I can get to a wholefoods/bulk buy shop I will definitely try to buy dried foods and pulses from there. Really it’s a no brainer again, when I already have containers, why not? It’s just the practicality of getting to the shop. The prices were not bad at all.

Eating out. This is where plastic free becomes impossible really. You have to assume that in a standard restaurant your food would have been packaged in plastic at some point. But arguably perhaps it was packaged in bulk.. So not as bad as buying the ingredients individually if cooking for yourself? I don’t know. But fast food is definitely something I’ll try to keep avoiding though I do have a massive craving for Pret’s herb wrap. If only they could come in paper! But equally, I bet I have saved a fair chunk of money by eating before I head out anywhere or bringing my own lunch. And healthier almost certainly too!

There were impractical things such as pens and highlighters that I really needed this month so I have used them occasionally but also had pencils to hand for when I could use either.

Drinks – I have made the mistake twice of turning away at the wrong moment and my drink been poured into a plastic cup or a straw being put into my drink. Pure, pure accident and so annoying because it was so unnecessary.

Reusable water bottles. Easy! Definitely worth it. Bring one around with me all the time now.

Medicines. – I doubt I can get around buying ibuprofen / anti-histamines differently. But certainly some come in less packaging than others so maybe it’s compromising and finding what does the least damage.

Clothes – I was able to get shoes without plastic in the end! Excellent. Its just the little tags you get in clothes. I read an article (link below) about the problems with polyester clothes. Subtly terrifying!
I think what I have learned is that actually stripping back and being able to only use the bare basics can be really liberating. It’s been quite fun thinking of alternatives.

It’s been so much simpler to basically say..

“well this is what I have, so this is all I can do”

and so rather than getting everything I want I have to make the best of what I have.

Not wearing make up has been easier than I thought. Not that I really wear a huge amount anyway. But any time that I need to look reasonably presentable I would normally wear something. I have missed it in a way but definitely something I’ll use less often… To make the occasion.

So what I’ve taken from this month is that it’s almost impossible to be totally plastic free unless you’re totally self-sufficient.. BUT, you can do so much to reduce what you do use! It’s just a simple seconds thought to look around in a shop and think what else I could use instead? Or if I could make this myself etc.

I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has donated this month, all the money will go to HIS-India and I am planning to do more things this year to raise a little bit more. And I want to thank everyone for their support and not finding it all too weird!

Below are some articles that I found throughout the month that I found to be worth a share

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-40498292

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/commentisfree/2017/jul/07/plastic-free-july-cutting-down-single-use-plastics-is-easier-than-it-seems?CMP=share_btn_fb

A lot of people end their ‘giving up for charity’ month with a selfie of them having a drink, or eating the chocolate they had given up. I don’t think it’s quite appropriate in my case!

I know it’s going to be difficult without the encouragement to not just buy everything in plastic again, especially when time is short or i haven’t had to chance to get organized. But I hope i keep it up from now on and remember the impact it has and why I did it in the first place.

Definitely recommend giving this challenge a go!

Thank you,

Rebecca x


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Book: The War On Women

 

I bought this book at the The Hay Festival a couple of weeks ago. I’d just been to a talk with Christina Lamb, Helena Kennedy, Rachael Jolley and Joan Bakewell discussing the author – Sue Lloyd Roberts who passed away recently and before properly finishing this book. Helena Kennedy really impressed me.

It has probably been bad timing. With the recent terror attacks and general fear and worry and pain in the world this book has certainly not lightened the mood.  I’ve really struggled to read this book, but it’s been equally as captivating. It makes daily activities like my studying and aspirations feel null, void and in vain when there is so much work that needs to be done elsewhere.

Sue Lloyd Roberts was a TV journalist and I knew very little about her before the talk. She sounds absolutely brilliant. She traveled around the world videoing and interviewing the people she met with stories to tell. She seemed to get really involved with cases and helped where she could.

So the book talks about how women are treated throughout the world, in cultures, during war, in wealthy and in un-wealthy areas.

The first chapter is on Female Genital Mutilation.

“In Britain our tradition is to respect local customs and not to insist on integration. We respect tolerance and accept cultural differences but it allows abuse to take place behind closed doors.”

I think what I found most exciting about the way Sue went about her work was that no-one seemed un-interviewable. I feel her quote above is right regarding British people. I wouldn’t feel comfortable stepping into someone else’s culture and telling them their practice is unethical, mutilation, appalling and not at all beneficial. The chapter and a chapter on arranged marriage goes on to discuss how the British government tries to avoid doing too much to stay liked or because it doesn’t see the consequences.

With FGM, Sue was not afraid to go directly to the women who carried out the cutting. It was well described in this chapter, It was an uncomfortable read (and the books carries on like it). In the past, reading about the practice I guess I just hoped it wasn’t quite the butchery I imagined.  No, it’s entirely butchery.  A shock to me was that 90% of Egyptian women have had FGM (at the time of the book being written).

The book made me think about how it is all so well hidden and going on without anyone knowing (or with everyone knowing but allowing it!). As I’m sitting here writing this, I naturally  assume other people next door, or down the road or in the next town are doing similar and just unwinding before bed. But are they? There is so much going on right this second and I’m so entirely oblivious.

Before reading the book the word rape would just resonate with me as a horrible word, meaning abuse and dark and twisted, impact, devastation. But the word appeared so often among so many chapters that by the end of the book it was almost tiresome. As if to say to men ‘can you get a hobby and find something else to do please’.  There are no words. There is no respect for women.

In the book it explains that in cultures where women are absolutely objectified, rape is commonplace and rarely punished. Something so horrendous to me and many other women and men can become the norm it appears when it is not actively taught as being wrong. It’s portrayed in the book as being a right of men to be able to, an entitlement. Over and over the same picture is shown in the chapters.

The book has a very big running theme in that all of the acts carried out against women were caused or could be prevented by men. A lot of it is dominance, submission and control of women. I really got the impression that many of the men don’t seem to think twice about what they’re doing. Like there is no conscience because they never developed one. They were brought up to think a certain way.

I have absolutely no sympathy for the criminals in this book, most of them know exactly what they are doing and deserve all the punishment coming to them but it was a question I asked myself. “How much are they actually to blame if that’s all they know and that’s what they’ve seen and been taught?”

I think it’s even sadder in many ways that in these cases these victims could have been spared if the the men had been brought up differently. The amount of pain suffered and lives wasted because of essentially a simple thing. It’s hard to find enough appropriate descriptive words. But it’s heartbreaking to read about. While reading the book I felt very much like I wanted to stand up for women and help make the world better. But then you think yeah, well, it’s all well and good me going to try and help when I’ve never experienced anything even remotely close to what was in the book. But that is what the author did.

One of the last chapters on India chilled me to the bone. I don’t often get angry but I could feel my blood boiling. I wanted to punch something. I wanted to do something. It covered the 2012 Delhi Gang rape. I think it was so poignant that after Jyoti Singh’s uncommentable ordeal and while she was in hospital before she died she apologized to her parents for causing a fuss. The idea that the victim caused the attack or is at fault runs throughout the book too.

I’m so sheltered by most of the brutal acts that happen in the world. This book has well and truly opened my eyes to a couple of them. I could talk about the book for a very long time. What Sue found out and got out of people ( The good and the bad) she interviewed is remarkable. Her ability to understand and delve into the minds of men and women has been really well emphasized. I will just heavily recommend that you read this book. And be prepared to be shocked.

Rebecca x

The stories spread so vastly over the world. I have always said to myself that I wouldn’t travel to countries that allow or don’t certain things which i disagree with. Reading the corruption that is everywhere including here in Britain of course it makes me wonder whether I ever could justify traveling again. The India chapter made me consider whether I would want to go to the tourist areas and spend money there when I visit the country. I feel like actually, I’d rather only give money to the charities there, to the people directly and not to the government that does little to help the suffering that is going on.

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