This morning the birds woke me up at silly o’clock with their constant tweeting. Not feeling particularly tired anyway, I gave in and got up to make a pot of coffee and see what had happened in my social media world since last night. As it turned out, not a lot, but I did find out today was Earth Day and the beginning of the Plastic Free Challenge social media event that runs until 22 July.
The aim of the event is to refuse single-use plastics, think of environmentally friendly alternatives to them, and document and publish these experiences on social media. Wow, that’s quite a task! How could I possibly avoid using disposable plastics altogether for three months when I’m surrounded by them wherever I go?! Putting it like that the challenge sounds daunting. However, I decided to approach it from a slightly different angle.
Instead of thinking I’m doomed to fail and therefore I might as well not try at all, I believe making small changes and being more aware of what I’m doing, especially when travelling in unfamiliar places away from my usual haunts, are steps in the right direction. Buying a thermos mug and a stainless steel water bottle earlier this year was definitely one of my better decisions. I carry both on me everywhere, whether I’m walking to work or going on a week’s holiday. I can’t even guess how many disposable water bottles my reusable one has already replaced. Even many airports now have refill stations after security so there’s no need to buy bottled water before or during the flight.
Although I don’t usually buy take-away coffees, for some reason I get an urge to have one before a train journey. As a paper cup with its plastic lining, plastic lid, and cardboard sleeve seemed like a lot of packaging for something I would consume within minutes, I learnt to go without until I finally bought my bright red thermos mug. Not only has it been great at stations but also at some coffee shops (mainly in busy commuter areas) that only have disposable cups even for drink-in beverages. As a bonus, the coffee stays hot longer in it and tastes better too.
These are small changes but they are a start. I’ve recently seen a nice two-tier stainless steel food container that could double as ‘dinner bowls’ for myself and hubby on our travels. Currently we take (reusable) plastic plates and tumblers from a picnic set with us but the steel box would be more durable and take less space. When everything has to fit in a rucksack, there is rarely little extra space!