EPISODE 6 | Plastic Free Challenge
Nicole Daniels, Stories from the City Edge, Fishhoek, Cape Town
Lives with her husband and two children aged 11 and 6 on the Southern Peninsula of Cape Town and tutors and researches in the Gender and Development Dept of UCT.
I am a researcher, I am writing my PhD, I am a teacher, doula, thinking partner, dancer, mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend and lover of the Earth and Source from which All originates.
While I do think it’s possible to do a month of no single-use plastics, bar a few slip-ups, I personally felt defeated by the onslaught of plastic consumption I discovered were part and parcel of my family’s daily life. At the outset I knew I wouldn’t be able to suddenly start baking bread or making my own yoghurt, although I was up to making some body products, in particular soaps and body creams. My failing is due mostly to the fact that without a significant change in lifestyle, how products are marketed and sold makes reducing single-use plastics definitely feasible (and I achieved that) but getting rid of them altogether, slightly nightmarish! For example, if I was willing to change my lifestyle, I would probably go vegan. This lifestyle choice would dramatically decrease my consumption of plastic (and as we all know drastically decrease my carbon footprint too).
Also where I shop and who I buy from affects my plastics footprint and at the moment I shop for convenience and do the best I can buying from major retailers, but they are a big part of the problem… transporting, storing, stocking shelves, having portable products all seem heavily plastics dependent, if not excessively so.
Even though I have also found local solutions like buying organic milk from Docker’s Farm in Noordhoek where I can take my own glass bottle, food consumption is terribly tied into plastic production. Interestingly, in my bid to ‘do the right thing’ ie. buy organic, use alternative medicines, buy in bulk, I inadvertently consumed plastic packaging.
At the same time, when I gave in and ‘did the wrong thing’, i.e. drank coco cola, ate sweets and too much dairy, I encountered the same problem. It felt like a no-win battle. So I caved. If shopping at farmers markets, green grocers, speciality stores, farm stalls etc, were more feasible, there would definitely be less plastic…
Then again it’s also just about saying no, and I’m learning that where and when I do this makes a big difference too. So my most successful outcome for a reduction in single-use waste for July has been in reducing single-use car travel. I know, bit of a jump from plastics to gasoline, but that’s the place where I said ‘no’ with the most conviction. For some reason I could say no, do this differently and implement it (encountering some inconvenience of course), with ease. And for me the experience of ease makes so much possible. It is feeling like ‘I have the power to change this’, and knowing I can. So I suppose that was the jump from plastics to gasoline – it’s what I can do… and will keep doing long past July.
Follow our blog for all the episodes in this Plastic Free Challenge series.
Collective solutions from all our stories…every little thing we do adds up and it all counts…it’s not easy to change habits and plastic packaging is everywhere, but the more of us who say NO to single-use plastic the easier it becomes…living a healthy, plastic free life is really difficult and expensive, this needs to change and we CAN change it….and sharing our stories is powerful, we are not alone, we inspire each other and we can take back our power as consumers to create healthy communities and a healthy planet. Who’s in?
[You can search for places that are recycling or using eco packaging on Eco Atlas and here are some other plastic free wins you should definitely check out – GreenHome, StreamStraws, FreshBag, The Candylwood Store and more…]