At the start of 2016, I vehemently declared that I was going to go plastic free.
It was something I’d been working towards for quite awhile. I was sick of travelling and seeing rubbish, everywhere I went. It was time to stand up and do something about it. This seemed like a good start.
I could see endless benefits from going plastic free – not only for the planet, but personal ones as well – like improving one’s health and having an opportunity to get a little creative.
So, now that the year is almost up, let’s have a look back and see how it all went.
The first six months
I think it’s fair to say, that the first six months of my experiment were a roaring success. I blogged about the results, with monthly roundups, where I highlighted what had worked and what I wanted to improve on.
We set up a compost in our backyard, for all of our vegetable and fruit food scraps. I reorganised my toiletries bag, by brushing with bamboo toothbrushes, trying my hand at creating my own toothpaste and making my own rose-scented face toner and perfume.
I started buying our veggies and fish from a nearby market in London, managing to shop while using no plastic whatsoever.
Clothes were washed with homemade laundry powder and bought secondhand (something I’d actually been doing for awhile) and I even managed to sew up some holes in old pairs of leggings and trousers. This is a HUGE achievement, believe me.
Travelling seemed an issue at first, but I did manage to cut down my use of plastic by an awful lot.
I took advantage of my backyard in London (a rare thing indeed) and along with the compost, started growing herbs and plants. Some of them got a weird fungus and others were eaten by caterpillars. What can I say, I tried.
Everything was going really, really well. Yet, then life threw a curveball, as it so commonly does.
Starting to lag in the latter half of the year
Around the middle of the year, I was told that by October, I’d no longer have a home in London. That blew everything out of the water.
I started working and travelling a lot more than I had been in the first half of the year. In fact, July to November is pretty much a blur. I was barely home at all and one thing I’d discovered during my experiment, was that it only really works if you’re organised and actually make the time for it.
Some of my new, good habits had already been set in the earlier months of the year, but I wasn’t able to implement much new in the latter. Drats. And don’t get me started on how much I missed my compost. I never got to use the fruits of our efforts! Waaaah!
What I’d like to work on in 2017
The year might be over, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go back to my old, plastic guzzling ways.
I’d still like to do all in my power to reduce my overall waste output. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go zero waste (in all honesty, I feel a bit sceptical when people claim they are), but I think it’s an excellent idea to gun towards.
When I’m settled somewhere next year, I hope to pick up where I left off. Australia could be doing a lot better, but it’s a little easier to buy stuff loose at supermarkets here than in the UK. I want a compost again. It would also be nice to reimplement a vegetable patch.
Now I’m at home, I don’t have to worry so much about adding to my wardrobe, which means I can go secondhand clothes shopping again! I’m thinking about seeing if I can do a basic sewing class. Apparently doing sewing twice as an elective in high school has had no effect whatsoever on my skill set. I think that’s because it was forced, rather than by choice.
Overall, I think I need to work on buying experiences, rather than things. I’m a bit of a hoarder (I can hear my family roaring with laughter and screaming: “A bit?!” as they read this) and I don’t necessarily see a problem with that so there, but it would probably be in anyone’s best interest to own less stuff.
Overall, I feel like I owe the experiment quite a lot. It’s made me think about the way I travel and live my day to day life. I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff (through trial and error as I was getting greatly frustrated at the beginning).
Best of all, I’ve realised that I can make an impact, even as one person in a sea of billions. Over the course of the year I had both friends and strangers contact me, with tips and advice. Or even say “Hey, that’s a good idea, I’m going to do the same.” To which I’d respond “You think my ideas are good?!” and my eyes would fill up with tears like some overly-emotional Japanese anime character.
I still have a few plastic-free posts to publish, mostly aimed at helping you out on your travels. It’s not a topic I’m going to let die and wither away into nothingness. It’s something that I feel passionate about (along with responsible travel in general) and this blog is a passion project, so it makes sense to tie the two together, no?
Overall, I feel proud with the progress made this year and it’s something I hope to continue contributing to for the rest of my life.
How did you go with your new year’s resolutions? Would you consider giving up plastic for a year?