Why My New Year’s Resolution Is To Reduce My Plastic Use, And Yours Should Be Too

Plastic is the devil.

Well, no it’s not. But single-use plastic certainly isn’t good!

On Wednesday evening I was invited to attend Hubbub’s Living With Less Plastic workshop, and it was a great eye-opener.

Before I went, I was expecting to be completely overwhelmed by how much I would be taught and how nearly everything is bad for the environment.

Thankfully, it wasn’t quite as intimidating as I initially thought it would be. Instead, it was laid back, was set up like an informal discussion, and I didn’t leave feeling quite so terrible about myself. Which is key in trying to get people to support your cause – don’t overwhelm them and make them feel like a bad person. Let them believe that it is easy and manageable!

I try to be aware of my single plastic use and I have a reusable coffee cup and bamboo lunchbox that I try to use as much as possible. I also don’t use plastic cutlery unless I literally have no other option (which is barely ever). But we’re all guilty of not doing enough due to convenience.

Did you know that it takes 400 years for plastic to biodegrade? That means that every piece of plastic that was ever created still hasn’t dissapeared.

So, who are Hubbub?

Hubbub is a Leeds-based charity that creates campaigns to raise awareness of environmental issues. Their playful campaigns help to inspire people to make healthier, greener lifestyle choices. Choices which usually result in happier lifestyles for people.

The Living with Less Plastic workshop, hosted at Duke Studios in Leeds, was a chance for local writers and influencers to come together and discuss easy ways that we can make a change, in support of the Leeds By Example campaign.

Hubbub is urging local businesses in Leeds city centre to sign up to the ‘Leeds By Example’ campaign. The aim is to improve the recycling of food and drink packaging that is constantly disposed of ‘on the go’.

So you know that sandwich you bought from Tesco or the coffee from Costa? Hubbub is trying to make it easier for you to dispose of them properly.

Did you know that when you throw a cup in the recycling bin with liquid still inside it you basically just ruined a whole batch of potential recyclable plastic?

The Leeds By Example campaign has come up with a number of initiatives to urge people to make more conscious recycling choices. And they’re keeping it simple, too, by just focusing on plastic bottles and cans.

All over Leeds city centre, ‘Alan Binnit’ has begun popping up, trying to seduce you to recycle your bottles with him.

Chilling with my good friend ‘Alan Binnit’.

They are also trialing recycling reward machines (like you’ve seen on Facebook videos from in Europe). You put your recyclables in the machine and then you receive a voucher for money off a local business. Incentives for recycling!

They even said that in the lead up to Christmas they may swap out the vouchers for a donation to a homeless charity instead – which I think is a wonderful idea!

I’m sure we all know that the ever-growing amount of single-use plastic waste is a big problem for our planet. There physically isn’t space for it all to go, and as a result, it is ending up being dumped in oceans and killing our whales. It is winding up making its way into our drinking water and into our foods.

You can’t escape plastic!

That was the real thing that I took home from this fun and informative workshop. I discovered that there is plastic in things you wouldn’t expect, like your face wipes, and your tea bags, and your CHEWING GUM. But there are also easy alternatives for these items.

Here are a few easy swaps to reduce your usage of sneaky plastics…

FACE WIPES – swap for reusable make-up removal pads (kind of like a flannel). One girl mentioned that she has 7, so one for each day, and then washes them all at the end of the week ready for the week ahead. Genius!

TEA BAGS – Use loose leaf teas instead of tea bags.

PLASTIC TOOTHBRUSH – Trade for a bamboo toothbrush. They cost the same as toothbrushes in stores, you’ll just have to order them online or find a local shop that sells them.

COFFEE CUPS/WATER BOTTLES – Buy a reusable cup made of bamboo or metal. They work exactly the same and are way cuter than the standard coffee shop throwaway cups. In our goodie bags, we received a reusable cup from rcup, who make their cups out of recycled plastic.

CLOTHING – Most of your clothing has microfibres of plastic in (shock, horror!) Try to wash your clothes less frequently to avoid plastic particles seeping into the water system too often. Also, instead of constantly buying new clothes that you only wear once, I heard about the Leeds Community Clothes Exchange. So you can avoid constantly buying new clothes and swap them with other people. You’ll get some new wardrobe items for no cost and you’ll have helped the environment.

PLASTIC BAGS – It’s obvious, we’ve known it for years, but use reusable shopping bags. It doesn’t matter if they’re made of plastic so long as you are reusing them consistently. Leave them in your car boot and you’ll never forget them again.

CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS AND TREES – Reuse the ones you bought last year, or if you fancy a colour change then why not trade decorations with a friend? Just think about whether you truly need to buy new decorations every year or whether the ones that you have are perfectly fine and look perfectly pretty for the one month of the year.

A resolution to get behind…

The Leeds By Example initiative is an important one that we should all get behind. It only takes small changes in our lifestyles to make a difference. Now that we have identified a problem, let’s be a part of solving it.

That’s why my new year’s resolution is to ‘do better’. I’m not saying I’m going to be able to completely get rid of single-use plastic from my life, but I can certainly make a difference.

A big one I’m going to focus on is finding a better alternative for cleaning my face instead of using face wipes. I was shocked to learn that they are made of plastic. That is so much plastic that I am discarding every day and didn’t even realise! I’m sure that cleansing my face with a sponge will be better for it anyway. 

Yellow recycling bin with a face and eyes and a Santa hat on top

Good old Alan Binnit

And if you see this guy hanging around town, then be sure to use him. Point him out to your friends and encourage them to recycle their bottles and cans with him too. The more we can do to help, the better a world we are saving for ourselves and future generations.

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