I am most inspired by people who make a cause their own, and then make a movement of it.
I recently discovered Lauren Singer, a 27 year old who has produced only one 16 ounce (473ml) mason jar of trash in four years. ONE. I think I must produce 10 mason jars of trash every day if my home garbage bins are anything to go by.
Her story is unbelievable. Inspired in college, by books and documentaries, she studied environmental science that lead her to begin with eliminating plastic from her life, and then all other trash. She buys package-free food from the farmers market or bulk stores; makes her own cosmetics and cleaning material, and composts what’s left over. And, looks like you can compost pretty much anything (except plastic, of course). Lauren now runs two companies, both that help you live waste-free: one that sells package-free products, and the other that sells package-free, three ingredient laundry detergent. She sends nothing to landfills and has no toxic products at home.
My first reaction was WOW; followed by an immediate ‘wait but she is young and single – I couldn’t possibly do that with a kid’. In comes Bea Johnson, whose family (husband and two kids) has been living a waste-free life since 2008. Each family member produces no more than ONE mason jar of waste per year. She has a TED talk that gives you top lines on how they do it, and a book that gives you the details. What’s more, her family’s living expenses have dropped by 40% annually as a result.
Both Lauren and Bea make it sound too easy. All I see around me these days is plastic. Plastic bags, jars, cutlery, plates, cups, bottles; glass bottles with plastic seals, clothes pegs, hair clips, hair bands, cream bottles, soap bottles, shampoo bottles, dish-washing tablet seals, medicine packaging, book covers, files, folders, pens, coasters, lolly wrappers, yoghurt containers, cling film, lunch boxes, food delivery containers, tampon covers, eye-pencil seals, lip-balm covers, perfume bottles, key chains; the list is endless. Where do we begin the process of elimination?
Rather than be daunted by the colossal task of eliminating all plastic from our lives (even our soaps have plastic bits in them!), I suppose we could all start with the basics:
-Carry reusable bags to grocery store, or any shop. Perhaps attempt to visit a local farmers market.
-Do not buy water in a plastic bottle (we have installed Liquid for Life filters in our home that has reduced our consumption of plastic bottles drastically).
-Refuse straws. Refuse coffee cup tops. Refuse plastic cutlery. Refuse any form of single-use plastic.
-Recycle the plastic we have at home. Most buildings in Dubai have recycling bins.
Small changes, big impact. Start with something.