Looking back to my initial post, when I first took stock of our plastic consumption, I must admit I was over-confident. Back then, I thought that reducing plastic waste should be simple as all you had to do was to say no to products wrapped in plastic or look for alternative solutions.
Well, it wasn’t that easy. Not at all.
First of all, reducing plastic waste requires a lot of research and planning. Why? Let me start with the water.
The dreadful bottled water
I live in Majorca, and we don’t drink tap water here. It is officially drinkable, but in many areas of the island, the water has a very high nitrate level as a result of excessive use of agricultural fertilisers in the past. I’m not a big fan of the taste of the tap water here, either.
The other reason my family choose bottled water is that the PH of tap water here is way below 7, and I try to drink high PH (alkaline) water because of a medical condition.
Despite the above, I discussed some options with a friend who’s been installing filtering systems for many years now and who’s someone I would consider an expert in his field. While installing a filter system could help, the big downside would be that it filters out the minerals along with the bad stuff. We now have a water filter jug and use this filtered water for cooking and making tea. I don’t feel it’s ideal yet, but we made a compromise on this.
Gluten-free = double-wrapped
I was diagnosed with coeliac disease more than nine years ago, and despite the fact that I do eat a lot less bread, I still like to have a roll, a slice of toast or some baguette here and there. We tried making our own bread, but no matter how many attempts we made, we never managed a loaf we really enjoyed. Most of the time, it turned out extremely dense, so you could eat a slice as buttered toast and then didn’t want to touch the stuff again for at least a week. We did get very good, edible bread a few times, but the moment it cooled down, it turned inedible; other attempts just crumbled to pieces.
Why am I going on about bread? Because every piece of gluten-free bread, wrap, roll, or baguette is double-wrapped in plastic. If it isn’t, the single plastic wrap is sometimes so thick that you can’t even pierce it with a pair of scissors. I can understand the need to package these items to some extend, but less plastic would do, surely?
So, what has changed for us?
We try to buy less prepped meat, which comes in plastic packaging. Buying from a butcher, it is still wrapped in paper with a very thin plastic backing, but that is much less plastic than the supermarket option. We shop at a local greengrocer offering all the organic food items, veg and fruit you might need, most of which is sold in paper bags or in loose sacks to take home in your own container.
During the pandemic, we already cut back considerably on toys, clothing, home and kitchenware. We discussed this extensively at the time and decided to only buy what we really need. And when we go out for a picnic, or to the beach, for example, we take refillable metal bottles and coffee cups. We’ve had them for years, and they’re still perfectly usable. The one thing we do still buy in plastic, and every three months or so, is my son’s water bottle for school. He is seven now, and no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get him to leave his water bottle alone. Somehow it always ends up damaged or completely broken and in need of replacement. We tried the expensive metal ones, ones that were labelled “unbreakable”, but he still managed to destroy them fairly quickly.
The bottom line
In my experience, going low waste and reducing your plastic impact was very difficult. For us, it was time-consuming and more expensive, and I’m not surprised people choose the easy, cheaper option. I guess that it becomes easier with time though, so I look forward to that, but knowing that things won’t change that much globally makes me sad and paints a rather dark future. Unless governments help by regulating plastic use, I don’t see how people’s habits will change on a large scale.
Despite our personal difficulties, I really would love to see more and more people becoming conscious of the issue. Even tiny changes help make big changes. Yes, it takes a lot of time and effort in the beginning, but even if we just develop the habit of thinking twice before we buy something, that can really make a difference.
I will try to continue what I’ve started, in small steps. One at a time. I’m curious to see how much we can reduce our impact over time.
I hope you enjoyed my summary. If you have any idea or tips how to make it easier, please leave a comment, we appreciate every opinion.