Meet Lindsay Miles…she's a sustainability educator, planet lover and plastic free guru. Lindsay blogs at Treading My Own Path about her quest to live with a lot less waste and plastic. With Plastic Free July over for another year, we've lined up Lindsay for a cyber chat on our Random Bites blog to tell us how she gives everyday plastic the heave ho and to impart a little 'living with less waste' inspiration...
I started on my plastic-free journey in 2012 when I heard about Plastic Free July. I cringe now when I look back, but I remember hearing about the challenge and thinking “I’m pretty good at recycling. I take my own bags to the shops. This challenge will be easy!” Then I saw the movie “Bag It!”. It was literally my lightbulb moment. I realised plastic was everywhere and that it was a huge problem – an environmental problem, a social justice problem, a health problem, a waste problem – and one that I was directly contributing to. I also realised that it was something that I had the power to change, every day, just by looking at the choices that I made. After watching that movie, I made the decision that I was ditching the single-use (and other unnecessary plastics) forever. Slowly, one thing at a time, I’ve managed to eliminate the majority of plastic from my life.
Plastic is so much more than just a litter problem. For a start, it’s made out of petroleum. That’s a fossil fuel, and we only have a limited supply of fossil fuels. Making cheap plastic disposable items out of this valuable resource and then throwing them in the bin makes no sense. Secondly, plastics aren’t as safe as we’ve been led to believe. The thing that shocked me most when I began researching plastic was how much it is impacting our health. In my opinion, the reason we aren’t hearing more about this is that organisations like the American Chemistry Council and other pro-plastic groups have huge power and lobby governments to protect their interests. That said, there’s a huge amount of research coming out about the impacts that phthalates and BPA are having on human health, and that’s just the start. (I talk about this more in my book.) Once you learn that the chemicals in plastic are leaching into our food and that many of these chemicals are hormone distrupters with links to cancer, the idea of reducing our plastic consumption becomes far more appealing!
I would say, just start. Choose one thing. Get good at that and then move onto the next thing. You don’t have to change everything at once! Remember habits take time to form. Don’t get disheartened if you have a bad day, or make a mistake – it happens to all of us. Just dust yourself off and start again. If you’ve no idea where to even begin, think about all the plastic you use. Pick something that’s easy for you to change and will have a big impact. (For example, reusable grocery bags that you take to the shops every week will have a far bigger impact than buying yourself reusable plastic-free easter egg moulds that get used once a year).
One thing I always tell people is that I didn’t change everything all at once. It took me 18 months to get to where I am now, and it’s still a journey – there’s always room for improvement!
I feel really passionate about helping people live with less plastic! I blog regularly about living with less waste, but I wanted to create something concise, with all the information in an easy-to-access format. It can be hard to browse through blog archives and a book takes the hard work out of researching. I knew from experience that starting out with plastic-free living can be overwhelming!
I thought about what I’d wanted when I first began living a plastic-free lifestyle. I wanted ideas and inspiration, something that was easy to read, that I could refer back to, and a way to explain to others what I was trying to do and why. That’s what I endeavoured to create! With my book I’ve tried to steer away from telling people what to buy or where to shop, or recommending specific brands. I felt that it was more important to talk about ideas and concept, keeping things positive. I also spent some time talking about how people make changes, and build habits. Plus I wanted to create something that was visually stunning. I wanted to make people want to keep reading!
Oooh, there’s so many alternatives! As well as food wraps, I have stainless steel containers and pyrex with lids for storing food. Jam jars with lids are another option. I also use cloth bags and tea towels for bread. A plate on top of a bowl is a great cost-effective option too! You are only limited by your imagination!
Thanks to the lovely Lindsay for popping over for a cyber chat. You can read more of Lindsay's zero waste and plastic free tips at her blog, Treading My Own Path, or in her new e-guide, That's a Wrap - available at her website. And if you live in Perth, you might be catch Lindsay at your local Living Smart course or speaking at plastic free events.
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