The fresh start has become so wholly editorialised. New beginnings, wake-up calls, lofty manifestos – the stuff of great, great autobiography, but real life can tend to be a little less black and white. That feels true of our journey at home these past months, and years, when one small step was not so much a new beginnings as a testing of different ground.
It began with our move to Kent, from a manically noisy bit of South East London (on, we later discovered, one of the most polluted roads in the UK), to a 200-year-old cottage in a little village in Kent. So far, so very familiar. We brought with us the things we had invested in, cherished and loved, and attempted to fit them into our new rooms… we had more ‘room’ but less generous dimensions, and so, a major cull was called for.
When we moved in, everything was sweetness, light, spaciousness. We had freshly painted walls (we used Earthborn paint throughout, for it’s rare zero VOC rating), shining glass in our window frames, newly upholstered things and freshly hung clothes in our wardrobes. Within a year, we had a ‘spare’ room full of unused and newly accumulated other things (my job as Wellness Director at Psychologies magazine has a lot to answer for in terms of ‘stuff’ – even if it really is the best stuff!), and I found myself trying to fill and dress and appoint each space, instead of just letting the space ‘be’.
We’ve learned many a lesson along the way – many of which we shall seek to share here, over the coming months – but the first of which was to massively readdress and assess our idea of ‘disposability.’ The first big question we asked ourselves related to plastic – did we really want it in our home? Did we want our kids playing with it? Did we want our food stored within it? Did we know, for sure, that what went into making it wasn’t leaching out and being ingested, inhaled, absorbed?
There’s a huge amount being written about plastic at present – and it’s about time – but have you ever tried to go completely plastic-free? It is NOT easy – and we are not there yet. You go to the supermarket to buy organic meat, and it’s wrapped in plastic. You switch your plastic bottles to glass or stainless steel canisters, and there’s still a plastic seal or cap or silicone sleeve on them. You buy your monthly vits, and they’re invariably in plastic too (bravo then Wild Nutrition, Solgar and Higher Nature – among others – for going with glass). From tupperware to technology, we encounter plastic throughout our homes. So, how to make a difference – to our health, yes, but environment too?
- 1) Go Second-Hand. When it comes to toys, we’ve found it far more economical and eco-sensible, to take our little ones to the local charity shops (of which there are a dozen nearby), and guide them in purchasing things that are plastic-free. New books, wooden toys, teddies… children really don’t differentiate between brand new and re-used – if it’s new to them it’s still full of wonder and delight.
2) Say No to Plastic Water. Tough as it may be when you’re running around, suddenly thirsty, and keen to grab an Evian, the main source of plastic within our oceans is from plastic bottles. The problem is also escalating at an unthinkable rate – in 2017 more plastic will be produced than in all of the preceding years, put together. Our production is off the scale, and the only way we can have impact is with our purchasing power. If you are a big drinker of water try switching to glass – Waitrose sell at least three spring waters in 2 litre glass bottles, from 80p each – even cheaper than the hugely inflated prices you pay for the 75ml bottles at train stations and coffee shop chains. I’ve been saving up for a stainless steel water filter for months, and have just bought The Big Berkey (from the slightly damaged sale – dents are fine by me!), as recommended by my friend, naturopathic make-up artist, Sjaniel. We’ve also installed VitaClean Shower Filters into our shower heads – natural vitamin C filters, which remove all chlorine – a must too, if like me, you’re prone to dry skin and eczema.
3) Travel-Friendly. We are slowly switching out every tupperware in favour of stainless steel caddies and tins – we send out 6-year-old to school with a mini Thermos flask, which keeps her soup/stew/pasta warm, providing her with a hot homemade meal at lunchtime. The issue we’re continually facing though, is finding it almost impossible to source flasks without plastic lids. Annoying. Funnily, those Instagram-cliches – the Kilner jar (and their cheaper copies, which can be found in almost any supermarket) – have saved our bacon several times – solid, thick, leak-proof, they’re a great way to transport all meals – from granola and smoothies, to salads and noodle pots.
And lest one ever doubt how much impact plastic has had on our planet, this film highlights the true depth (literally) of the problem – PLASTIC OCEANS. It’s a very very sobering watch indeed (and will change how you look at that plastic water bottle, forever more).