How Micro Shifts Can Change the World
Written by Andrea Noon
It can be overwhelming when we look at the human impact on the planet, and it is scary and heartbreaking to see the images of so much plastic in our oceans. Greenpeace state that up to 90% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have plastic in the stomachs, they also say that 90% of plastic worldwide isn’t recycled.
We know that plastic doesn’t disappear, it just continues to get smaller and smaller and eventually forming microplastics that make it through the food chain and back onto our plates (Eeeewww). With countries like Ireland and the UK declaring a state of climate emergency, and reports telling us that the world is on fire, it can make it feel like your individual changes can’t possibly help on a global scale, it feels too big and perhaps hopeless. However, you’ll be surprised how making small changes can be easy and those small changes can make a huge impact on the environment.
When I started my journey into lowering the plastic and toxins in my life, I had a couple of failed attempts. When you’re busy the convenience of just grabbing one bottle of water from the shop or running to the supermarket and just using one plastic bag for your shopping is easy to justify when you think of it as just one bottle or one bag. How is that one bag really going to impact the world?
Let’s break down some common plastic uses:
- Coffee – I am a coffee lover, and I can’t go a day without my ¾ Long Black. Now if you work out that I would have at least 1 coffee a day (sometimes more), and for my coffee, cafés would use 2 cups because of the temperature of the coffee, I was using minimum 730 coffee cups and 365 lids a year.
- Shopping bags – I would shop at least 3 times a week buying 3 bags of groceries, included in that at least 3 smaller plastic bags of fresh produce. That is a minimum of 936 plastic bags a year.
- Water bottles – At least one plastic bottle every second day that you could refill through the day (and maybe a second bottle if I went to lunch) – That’s minimum 183 plastic bottles. We also know that for health benefits you don’t actually want to be drinking out of plastic bottles. But that’s a different topic to discuss at a later time!
When I quantified all of my plastic use, and started to see that by making simple changes like keeping a small reusable bag in my handbag and a few in my car, including some, produce bags, and keeping a lightweight re-useable water bottle and coffee cup with me at all times meant that by no longer using these single-use plastics, I was having a significant impact on the world.
My suggestion to you is to just start with one change. Don’t over complicate it by then shopping for even more things to replace your plastic at home.
Have a look around the house and see what you already have and start to use this. Tomorrow, don’t buy that plastic water bottle, just have a think about what you can do instead.
If you forget your plastic bag, maybe just carry your products home in your hands (you’ll probably remember your bag next time).
And lastly, chat to your family and friends of your interest in this topic, you never know this one conversation may trigger them to consider tomorrow whether they need to use that plastic bag at the shops. Yes, the problem is huge and scary, and it will take everyone to make this better, but if you just start who knows what impact that will have. As you can see, one micro shift can make a big difference to this incredible planet that we live on.