Can you believe it’s been only 113 years since the first plastic was invented? And yet in that short time span (basically a life of one very old man) we’ve managed to completely fuck up the whole world with it? One rubbish truck enters the ocean every single minute. That’s what, at least a truck or perhaps two since you opened this post and started reading it? What an overwhelm of life. Just Coca Cola on their own manage to make 120 billion plastic bottles every year. Yet there are only some 7 billion people in the world. I haven’t drank Coke in a year now, so those bottles don’t rest on my shoulders. But lots of other plastic does, let’s just face it. That’s why I picked up a book called How to give up plastic by Will McCallum.
Who’s Will McCallum and what does he know about plastic waste?
According to Will McCallum’s Linkedin he’s the Head of Oceans for Greenpeace UK overseeing fisheries, marine protection and plastics campaigns and lead campaigner for Greenpeace’s global marine reserves and Antarctic campaigns. If anyone’s accredited to give the world shit about our overuse of plastics and its waste then it’s this bloke.
Note: I totally did find the author of this book on Linkedin. I always do that with self-help and personal development books. I mean, do you know how many people write books these days without actually knowing anything about the subject?
3 things I’ve learned from Will McCallum‘s book How to give up plastic
Tiny pieces also matter
It was when reading this book when I had that very first aha moment about tiny pieces of plastic. I always thought that it’s the big plastic that’s bothering us. You know, all the bottles, single use bags from supermarkets, all the wrapping our food comes in. Well, it is a big problem but tiny plastic is an even bigger problem. Because it’s so tiny we don’t even know we’re using it. And then we don’t even know it’s polluting everything around us because it’s so bloody tiny we can’t even see it. Roughly a third of all plastic in the ocean comes from microfibres.
These are released when washing our clothes in the washing machine. Our cheaply made clothes (by people who are living and working in sub-standard living conditions on sub-standard wages) is made out of cheaply made materials (p-l-a-s-t-i-c) which we then wash in our washing machines. Teeny pieces of your favourite polyester dress are then flushed down the drain slowly making their way into the underground water (so you can then drink it and wash yourself with it), the river (for your favourite swan to drink it) and the ocean (so we can all share your dress with the salmon you’re having for dinner tomorrow). Isn’t that just insane?
This is one of the reasons why I’ve started using soap nuts instead of a washing detergent (because toxins make the same way into the ocean as the plastic does). And I’ve been focusing way more on what materials I’m adding into my wardrobe.
Recycling is not a solution
Yeah, but we know how to recycle plastic waste, so that makes it okay, right? I just chuck my plastic Cola bottle into the recycling bin and tadaaah – problem solved. Well, not really. Recycling is all good and dandy, but that goes only for some recycling. And the plastic doesn’t really fall into the “okay” category. Recycling glass for example, is fab – you can reuse your jars at home (that’s the best kind of recycling of glass). Or you can throw them in a recycling container. They are taken into a recycling plant where they use a shit tone of water to recycle the jars. They can recycle them infinite times so the only downfall really is the huge inefficiency of resources around this process. Whereas when it comes to plastics, it’s all different. There’s a number of various types of plastic. And you can only recycle a very limited number of these types. And – you can only recycle plastic once or twice. Then it becomes just a forever plastic that we won’t get rid off.
So please stop justifying our overuse of plastics by suggesting we can recycle it. We can’t.
Create a plastic free plan
The only way to lift the plastic veil that’s hanging over the world right now is to limit our use of plastic to an absolutely minimum. To zero, if possible. Learn your way around shopping without plastic, living without it, buying new pieces for your wardrobe without it, washing your clothes without it.
It will be difficult but it’s so worth it. I have completely stopped using plastic bags when shopping. Buy less food in packaging. Don’t buy coffee on the go and I don’t drink water from bottles most of the time. Examine every little step in your every day life and think it over – do you really need to be using that piece of plastic? You can even turn it into a little inside game. It’s kinda fun coming up with all the different ways to replace plastic in your life.
You can learn so much from reading Will McCallum’s book. Find it in your local bookshop or if you can’t go to your local bookshop and support them, then you can buy online on BookDepository.