Plastic Free Communities

Plastic Free Cheltenham

Two Wednesdays ago I went to a ‘Plastic Free Cheltenham’ open meeting. Plastic Free Communities is a movement created by Surfers against Sewage in the UK and has spread over the country. Currently there are 448 plastic free communities in the UK, with the goal of reducing the sale and distribution of single use plastics in an area. During this meeting we were told that the main focuse of Plastic Free Cheltenham is to reach out to local businesses and get them to pledge to remove at least 3 single use plastics from their shelves. Coffee cups, plastic straws, plastic bags etc. The other focuses are increasing public knowledge through educations, in schools, at festivals etc, and cleaning up your local area.

The Last Straw

During the open meeting we had a speech from a local awareness business called ‘The Last Straw’. Run by two brothers in secondary school, their aim is to offer sustainable, cheap alternatives to plastic straw’s. They currently sell bamboo and wheat straws, and approach businesses across Gloucestershire to try and get them to switch to these reusable alternatives.
After the meeting I approached the brothers and asked them to say a few words about who they are and why they are doing what they are doing and the gave me this response:

‘We started this as a challenge to do something on our behalf to save the environment. This is our mother earth and we need to do something to protect it. On our own we can t make a huge difference but if everybody did something small together we can make a large difference.
What motivates us is our passion for the environment and our love of nature and the need to feel we have to protect it. Our parents guide and support us and we have seen just by making a few changes in our own household we can make such a big difference eg we have now switched to bamboo toothbrushes, we now use beeswax wraps to pack our lunches in instead of foil or clingfilm, we all have refillable water bottles and we try to buy fruit and veg loose as much as we can. If we can do so can you! Replacing your straws with reusable ones is just the start we want to see individuals and businesses making as well. We looked at this and decided not to go for paper straws as they lead to deforestation whereas bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants and does not need to be replanted as it self generates from its own roots. It does not need fertilisers or large amounts of water either and is highly sustainable. Our bamboo straws are 100% degradable and reusable. We also supply wheat straws which are by products of wheat harvest and the stems would normally have been burnt leading to gas emissions so converting them into straws is ideal. They are 100% degradable too.’

Now some of you may be concerned, as I was, that wheat straws would be unusable for people with a wheat intolerance but they assured me that as they are made from wheat by products they can be used by everyone.

The Litter Pick

One of the ways in which Plastic Free Cheltenham are helping in cleaning up our community is by performing organised litter picks. The first of these litters picks happened this Saturday, over 50 individuals turned up to help us clean up our streets. We went in groups of 4 and moved street by street for 2 hours picking up discarded waste and marking down how much of each type of waste we collected. Unsurprisingly the most common form of litter that we found was cigarette butts, what was more surprising though was the sheer amount of them, we couldn’t move two steps without finding a discarded cigarette butt. Some unusual forms of rubbish that we found included, school trousers, a cut up credit card, and a large part of a car door!

Below are some photos of the bags of rubbish that we collected in our 2 hour stint.

Why not check out if there are any plastic free communities near you, and if there isn’t why not become a plastic free ambassador and create your own community.

Let Your Hobbies be Hobbies

Whilst I will be back to writing more environmental based posts, product reviews and the like I wanted to take this time to write about something that i’ve been thinking about for a while. Almost a follow on from my last post about allowing yourself to just relax and do nothing. I wanted to talk about our societies current obsession with monetising hobbies. Now I do subscribe to the ‘if you’re good at something then never do it for free’ to some extent, namely if you are doing something all the time and you are given the opportunity to make some money with it then why not?

The thing that I have issue with however is the idea that doing something you enjoy is only worth it if you can make money from it, and by extension it’s only worth doing if you are really good at it. I know that i’m not the only person who has given up on something because I wasn’t ‘good’ at it, even things that I really enjoyed. And those things that I am good at, I have felt like I should be trying to make money with it, or what’s the point of continuing to do it?

This, I believe, is indicative of how out current society only places emphasis on doing things that can be made profitable. Do you enjoy crafts? Well then you should be selling them. Do you like art? Then you should be taking commissions. And if the thing you enjoy is not marketable then why are you doing it? Why are you doing something just because you enjoy it? Why are you not being more productive? It’s these kind of insidious beliefs that can stop us from continuing or even starting something that we really enjoy.

I’ve felt this similar pressure with writing this blog, I want to do a good job and I want to spread useful information and opinions to those of you who want to live a lower waste life. But the pressure to try and do it so often and make money off of it has sucked some of the fun out of it and has led me to posting some posts that I wasn’t 100% happy with. I want to keep up some semblance of an upload schedule with this blog, and I have more posts planned out but i’m going to be spending more time ensuring that i’m enjoying writing these, and that they’re up to a good enough standard before I post them. If some time in the future this blog becomes popular enough to become a source of income for me then great, but that’s not going to be my main focus.

Instead i’m going to let my hobbies continue to be hobbies, something that I do to unwind, something that makes me happy, something that I don’t have to be perfect at.