Those of you who have been visiting this blog regularly may have noticed that our site notice and links have disappeared. That is because as of now the Living Lighter Store has its own website www.livinglighterstore.co.uk where you can pick up everything you need to start living low waste. Along with our Hydrophil toothbrushes and soap pouches we will soon be selling bees wax wraps! an eco-friendly alternative to cling-film. We will also be selling the none-sponge and re-usable makeup pads and nail pads. Why not check out our new site and then drop us a comment telling us what you think?
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.
There has been a lot of talk in the UK about trying to reduce our single use plastics. And whilst I am happy that environmental issues are becoming more of a talking point in politics, mush of the proposed legislation is, lets just say, misguided. The main policy that the UK government is trying to put through is a ban on plastic straws.
The issue with a blanket ban on plastic straws is that they are vital to many in the disabled community. Plastic straws were first invented for the disabled community and, much like fidget spinners, were co-opted by the rest of society to the point where its become a problem. I’m not saying that plastic straws don’t pollute the environment because they do and I greatly urge everyone who doesn’t need to use them to stop using them. In fact if you want a good alternative to plastic straws then why not try our ‘Strawsome glass straws’ available in the living lighter store.
Now like I said, plastic straws do pollute the environment but there are plenty of other plastic products and other rubbish that do even more harm. In fact a recent study found that straws are the 8th most common type of rubbish found in the ocean/ environment in general. The products found more regularly include cigarettes, plastic bottles, plastic bags and food wrappers. In fact, volunteers from a recent costal cleanup said that they ‘found enough containers and food packaging for a person to get takeout for every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner, for the next 858 years!’
The take home message of this post I guess is that we can all find ways to reduce our waste, ways that don’t throw less abled people under the bus. Overall I think that we should all start looking at environmental activism and consciousness in the same way that the majority (I hope) of people look at vaccines. Everyone who is able to give up plastics and wasteful practices has to, so that those who can’t can still benefit.