As Covid-19 began to rock the world, it seemed the Earth breathed a sigh of relief. Flights were grounded, commutes became ambles down our hallways and views cleared in cities which had remained under a blanket of smog for many years.
But it seems there is a new problem on our hands. In order to keep the virus at bay, many have returned to single use plastics in the form of gloves and masks. In recent weeks, we've seen reports of an increasing number of PPE items washing up on beaches and shores across the globe. With decompose dates for plastics like this being as far as 500 years away, this can make for startling reading.
At Cosy Cottage, we’ve been thinking for years about reducing plastic pollution and we’re committed to being realistic and balanced about this!
Today, we want to explore ways we can reduce our plastic consumption, with a particular focus on short term and single use plastics.
First things first – in our view, NOT ALL PLASTIC IS BAD (shock, horror!). Our whole world is jig-sawed together with plastic, which is used time after time, for years on end - from the chairs we sit on, the transport we use, to the utensils we use to cook our tea. There are many medical situations where patients rely on the unique properties of plastics to keep them alive. There are many plastic items out there which are reusable in the long term, lighter than the alternatives to transport (therefore consume less fuel) and, let’s be honest, cost-effective (here’s looking at you, Tupperware – and some of ours has been going strong since the 1980s!). Our issue at Cosy Cottage is with single and short-term use plastics (SSUPs), where viable alternatives exist. The main problem with SSUPs is that the period of usefulness is majorly out of kilter with the longevity of environmental impact. SSUPs are seriously bad news for landfill and if incinerated, harmful gases are produced. They’re also based ultimately upon consumption of crude oil, which in this day and age is far from sustainable.
In our view, SSUPs have had their day - there are many alternatives readily available.
You step into a steaming shower cubicle. Rather than an array of partially used plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel, bearing a rainbow of peeling labels, you see solid shampoo and soap bars lined up neatly in bags and on dishes; moreover their glorious scent is wafting round around the cubicle as you enter! Whereas on average before, you were using an average of 72 bottles per year, you’re now using none – it’s getting better and better! For the whole of the UK, that’s over 4 billion fewer plastic bottles a year and that’s around 100,000 kilogrammes of plastic waste saved in the UK alone, each year!
... and there's more! By your sink, instead of squeezy, plastic bottles, there's a smart bamboo brush, a hand-knitted cloth and your solid washing-up soap, filling the kitchen with a fresh, lemony fragrance. That's even more plastic bottles saved.
So if each of us only makes one small change, just think of the difference we can make together over the 500 year lifespan of each plastic bottle.
Take a peek at our other top tips for reducing your SSUP usage:
Give wax wraps a go for sealing groceries and toiletries - they’re a great way to keep things fresh and fragrant and last a heck of a long time. Our wax soap wraps are a great idea for travel.
Opt for a reusable masks when taking a trip outdoors and wash hands with soap where possible to avoid relying on hand gel in plastic bottles.
Say cheese to bamboo toothbrushes - strong, sturdy and a bathroom staple… we bet you never go back to its plastic counterpart again
Combining style and substance, reusable flasks and drinks bottles are all the rage at the moment, and it’s not hard to see why. Whether you’re a coffee aficionado, tea chugger or water worshipper, it’s easy to make the swap (and you might enjoy discounts on your drinks in certain stores!
Ditch the flimsy plastic straws and get on board with glass/stainless steel straws. They’re robust, environmentally friendly and, in our opinion, make your drink taste even better.
Were you aware that even the humble stick of chewing gum contains plastic?! Next time you’re seeking that fresh breath feeling, why not opt for good, old-fashioned mints instead, paired with the ever-popular Cosy Cottage lip balm (infused with peppermint!) for an unrivaled smile.
Opt for locally produced, loose groceries where possible. Fewer carbon emissions, no weird packaging for things that already have their own protective jacket e.g. bananas, and tastier food - you know it makes sense. For extra brownie points, get yourself to your local weigh and pay - you’ll often be supporting independent businesses, saving money and getting precisely the amount you want, every time.
With all the polyester fibres and microbeads from cosmetics entering the ecosystem through laundry/bathing water, something needs to be done. Plastic pollution in oceans is the leading cause of harm to wildlife throughout the world. You could try a year of no clothes purchases, a ban on polyester, or indeed treat yourself to an excellent, sulphate/paraben/SLS/cruelty free array of Cosy Cottage Soap products. We know which one we’d prefer!
So here at Cosy Cottage, we’re all about thoughtful consumption of plastic and avoiding SSUPs. We’re also about small, achievable changes rather than grandiose gestures. Everything we produce in our Malton workshop is packaged in recyclable, compostable, biodegradable or re-useable packaging but we’ll keep on packing our sarnies in our Tupperwares (which must have some antique value by now)!