Say No to Plastic by Harriet Dyer

Dyer’s book is a short, straightforward presentation of 101 ideas for cutting down consumption of single-use plastics as well as what to do with some of the plastic waste you already have. At the start of the book the author gives some no-nonsense information about the damage that plastic does (for instance, the UK dumps 1 million tonnes of plastic in landfills every year, 8% of oil worldwide is used to manufacture plastic and that 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the sea each year).

So How?

From the book, I thought these were useful changes that we’re going to put into practice:

  • use solid shampoos and soap bars instead of anything in bottles
  • buy bamboo toothbrushes rather than plastic ones (I need to source vegan ones, of course)
  • avoid tubes of toothpaste and buy tabs
  • for cleaning use carbolic soap, borax substitute, vinegar and baking soda (and make use of the plastic bottles we’ve already got)
  • get hold of washing bags to catch microfibres in the washing machine
  • reuse old clothes and toothbrushes for cleaning
  • wax (vegan alternative, of course) wraps for food
  • always use own shopping bags (we already do this for supermarket shops, just need to make sure we don’t get caught out without a bag other times)
  • try to only purchase loose fruit and veg (this is super-hard where we live as there’s not a greengrocer; we do our best in the supermarket but lots of what we need is prepackaged in plastic)
  • always buy cans instead of bottles (this is something I need to do better)
  • buy loose-leaf tea (I had no idea there was plastic in tea bags until a few days ago!)
  • make our own bread rather than buy bread wrapped in polythene (we have a bread-making machine that we’ve lazily stopped using)
  • use soap berries / wash nuts for washing clothes (this is something I need to research)
  • carry our own cutlery with us so we don’t need to use throwaway ones

So Useful?

I found Say No to Plastic incredibly useful as a starting point for our attempts to plan reducing our environmental footprint. We’ve always been well-intentioned, semi-mindful (and certainly guilt-ridden) in trying to avoid needless waste but know we need to be more planned, more deliberate in what we do. This book has given me some reasonable next steps (there are many more) and several recipes for creating eco-friendly cleaners. Adopting a “slow living” approach is something I want to embrace and certainly move to taking a 30-day zero waste challenge within the next 12 months.