Plastic Free Year

I was spending some time recently with my sister in law Sue and she told me about her plans to have a plastic free year in 2018. Excited by the project, and wanting to share her ideas and information she had also decided she would like to blog about the process. Since I think it’s a fantastic idea and one that’s going to be really interesting to follow I asked if she would like me to host her journey here on Purple Ella. 

So here is her first blog post. She will hopefully be sharing one every month of her plastic free year. Please make her feel welcome and I will pass on any comments or questions for her to respond to. 

My plastic free year 2018

Is it possible to live for a year using no new plastic?  This is the challenge I have set myself for 2018

Recently the news regarding plastic and the environment is sounding fairly catastrophic and now most people are aware of the hugely destructive and toxic environmental impact plastic is having on our earth, sea and air. ‘So what can any one person do’ is the statement most often heard when confronted with such an enormous problem. But we are all capable of small changes that can have a real impact, even on a global scale, and to do nothing at all is personally out of the question so here goes –  a big lifestyle change for me!.


For a few years now I have been aware of the effect that the huge amount of plastic being produced and used is having on our natural world.  And after seeing heartbreaking images like this,

Needs no words!

A dead albatross chick photographed on Midway Atoll, a strip of sand and coral in the North Pacific. These are the actual stomach contents of this baby bird in one of the world’s most remote marine sanctuaries.

Although inhabited and remote, South Sentinel Island is covered with plastic! Photo source: © SAF — Coastal Care

And reading reports that 91% of the plastic produced currently is not even being recycled!

I made a decision to act, instead of just feeling helpless.

I have been conscientiously cutting back on the use of unnecessary plastic for a while now (don’t talk to me about plastic drinking straws, plastic bags and single use plastic bottles; I must drive my friends and family mad!)  And of course trying to recycling like literally everything! But you then just buy more stuff….

Plastic, it seems, is everywhere and used in so many or our everyday needs –   so how possible is it to live a plastic free life? One can only speak from experience and so I am laying down the gauntlet to myself to try it for a year!

Who am I?

I am a fairly ordinary person not a scientist, activist or journalist. I work full time and live (very luckily) on a wide beam houseboat in Bristol. I have two grown up children and one 3 year old grandson. They are all so very precious to me and their future is in jeopardy right now.  My hope is that as I progress through the year and find ideas and alternatives to using plastic in everyday living it may encourage others to try. For the past few years I have gradually switched to a more organic, chemical free, fair-trade route with food, clothes, cleaning products and cosmetics. However many of these products are still sold in plastic containers or wrapped in soft plastics.

It will be interesting to reach out to businesses, especially those with an eco and environmental ethic to challenge the use of plastic in their products and to find out their plans, if any, for a more plastic free future.

As my children are grown up and there is only myself and my wonderful partner to consider this may mean a plastic free life is more easily managed in my household than say for a family with young children. However many areas of life are common to us all and hopefully many changes are possible for us all. We really do only have one place to live – This planet, our home – so we must as individuals, as well as commercial businesses, try to find some solutions before it’s too late. (Ok preachy bit over!)

Where do I start?

So the main areas that I imagine will be the biggest challenge are:

Food – (no take away curries in plastic tubs etc already comes to mind!)

Drink – (thank goodness wine/gin comes in glass bottles!!)

Cleaning products, household general waste – (Bin bags/Non plastic wrapped toilet roll?  My mind is starting to comprehend the task)

Cosmetics, beauty products – (Hey what’s wrong with a flannel and soap I sigh, as I look longingly at all my favourite organic beauty creams and lotions!)

Online shopping – (such an integral part of our busy lives now)

Soft plastic wrapping – (Packaging is the largest end use market segment accounting for just over 40% of total plastic usage).

Other stuff yet to be discovered!

My challenge will actually start in December 2017 as I have let friends and family know I would really appreciate not receiving Christmas gifts containing or wrapped in plastic and I will be doing the same in return.

So the challenge is ‘My Plastic Free Year 2018’. To replace current use with alternatives as required and an attempt to use no new plastic at all!

This will be a monthly diary of all things plastic encountered and replaced and a record of the use of unavoidable plastic; where it seems unavoidable a search for solutions will begin and I intend to share any useful stuff here in this blog.

I am really looking forward to sharing information and links to enable anyone to find alternatives and also conducting some real investigation and asking questions as to how businesses are taking responsibility and working to solve what is becoming an epic problem of global scale.  I recently spoke to a friend who runs a business in organic beauty products and she is attending a conference in November where this is one of the topics facing the industry so I will report back on the discussions held there.

For information on the scale of the problem and some organisations trying to find solutions and taking direct action here are a few links to start with: Now for that large G&T sipped through my bamboo straw…