Doing Small Changes Won’t Save The Planet – But It’s a Start

In the world of environmentalism and sustainability, I come across slightly contradictive articles all the time. Most of the articles, blog posts, podcasts etc. are about how we can make changes to be more sustainable, how little or big things we can do, some even guilting us into changing our behaviour. The slightly contradictive articles are a minority but they appear regularly and they question the little changes that we are making and criticise how those won’t save the Earth. I am sure you’ve all read those articles. One of the latest ones that I read was in the Guardian where Monbiot wrote that “We Won’t Save The Earth With a Better Kind Disposable Cup”. So who is right? Is it the articles who encourage people to consider the changes they are making or is it articles who question the better you are doing and rather pushes us to challenge the power or wants all of us to change how we live?

Doing Small Changes Won't Save The Planet - But It's a Start - byLiiL

In my opinion, both are correct. That is true if the only thing we are doing is changing to a better disposable cup, or just change worse material to a slightly better one it will not save the planet. However, not changing the bad materials at all is also not an option nor is stopping consumption altogether.

Changing the consumer behaviour doesn’t happen in an instant, it takes years if not decades and when the popular media continues to promote a certain lifestyle it gets more difficult to change that. Government legislations against harmful products to us and the environment would help, however, they do not move swiftly either and only seem to make legislations when there is a public outcry on a topic such as microplastics. However, the government seems to only put on a patch on the problem, rather than fix the underlying issue to quiet the population and to change this the population needs to be educated on the underlying issue. This all definitely needs to be done, but it sounds like a lot of work which will take a lot of time, doesn’t it?

Doing Small Changes Won't Save The Planet - But It's a Start

While we wait for it to happen if we do not make changes and innovate better materials we have not made the world any better, but have probably created a lot more waste. When I think about a disposable cup that is made out of plastic and ends up polluting our oceans I would much rather use a disposable cup that biodegrades, even if slowly, however as at the moment there are many innovations coming up to make our current system better and more environmentally friendly, we have the possibility to look into what would be the best option.

One great example of a better product is the Nespresso compatible coffee capsules by Percol. I’ve always felt any Nespresso machine represents the opposite of environmentalism because of the capsules it uses that are fairly wasteful, however, the Percol coffee capsules are compostable and the coffee is Soil Association organic. Also, although I think we should all carry a reusable cup with us, it is not always feasible and therefore The petition to change the disposable cups into better disposable cups is definitely worth signing for those moments that somebody just has to take the disposable cup, but I wish there was another petition to the government to set up waste systems to easier dispose of those biodegradable or compostable disposable cups and another that would start proper education systems to schools and to adults about the change that we need to make to save the Earth.

Doing Small Changes Won't Save The Planet - But It's a Start

Educating people rather than guilting them will help them make decisions on their own and will provide a more worthwhile movement with real change. Guilting people into changing their behaviour doesn’t help, and studies have shown that they can even harm the movement. Writing about consumers doing wrong when they want a better alternative only makes them confused if they are not already familiar with the topic and might make them give up on even trying to be more ethical or requesting change from brands or the government.

By doing small changes and noticing that it works can move people into making bigger changes and to changing attitudes. Let’s not scare them off that path and rather support them with the journey. Make the small changes, such as having a less bad material and promote education on environmental problems and challenging the power and the decision makers. That is how we are going to change the planet.

Doing Small Changes Won't Save The Planet - But It's a Start

What do you think about making small changes or challenging the power?

With love,

Lii

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Sustainability in 2017

2017 was a year of learning to me, as I mentioned in the Reflections and Goals post. I learned a lot about myself and about sustainability. There is still much more to learn, but I have to be proud of all that I’ve learned so far. If you missed any of those posts here is the list of sustainability posts from 2017:

5 easy sustainable fashion changes - byLiiL

Bee’s Wrap Sheets – A Sustainable Food Wrapping

4 Posts That Make You Think

Sustainable Vegetable Marking – Forget The Stickers

Dreams of a Dining Space

5 Easy Sustainable Fashion Changes

Why Change To Natural Cleaning Products?

Anek. – Sustainable and Instagrammable

Introducing Primrose and Pixie

A Mall For Repaired and Recycled Goods

Fashion Revolution Week

Introducing Mirabelle – Jewellery with Meaning

6 Piece Capsule Wardrobe by Honest Rosie - byLiiL

Introducing Boodle Boutique

Travel Sustainably

Use Your Power of ‘Choice’ When Making Buying

Straws – Eco-Friendly or Healthy?

Inspiration of the Month – The Sustainable Futures Report Podcast

7 Reasons Why I Choose To Shop Small

Introducing – 1 Dress 14 Styles by Doo.Bla.Vey

Sustainable News of the Month – July 2017

Are Big Brands Stealing Small Brand Thunder?

Before the Flood Documentary and Review

Uncovering The Secrets Behind Fashion Sizing - byLiiL

TED Talks About Sustainability

Understand The Sustainable Fashion Terminology

Chasing Coral

Why Do We Expect To Buy Cheap Fashion?

Sustainability Causes and How To Support Sustainability

Inspiration of the Month – Cradle to Cradle

Sustainable News of the Month – October 2017

What’s All The Fuss About Plastic?

Why I Don’t Shop on Black Friday – The Issue With The Sales Culture

Sustainable News of the Month – November 2017

Straws - Eco-Friendly or Healthy?

My plan is to make even more and better sustainability content for this year and you can help by letting me know what you would like to read about Sustainability in 2018 in the comment box below!

With love,

Lii

What’s All The Fuss About Plastic?

Have you noticed how plastic is everywhere? It’s on the news, in various articles, advertisements say “BPA free”, that we shouldn’t use plastic and sometimes that plastic might be a better option. Well I, at least, was confused about all this and to understand the fuss about plastic I decided to research it. There is a lot of information and there is definitely room for more research under each sub-topic, but to keep you (and myself) interested I will share just the main issues with plastic.

What's All The Fuss About Plastic? - byLiiL

Non-biodegradable

Yes, you’ve heard it before, it is filling the landfills and littering the ocean. Firstly it clogs our waste facilities and storm drains. Plastic photo-degrades; it brakes into smaller and smaller pieces perhaps resulting in the microplastics. You also might’ve heard about the recent boycott on oxo-degradable plastics: the lightweight plastic that was supposed to be the solution for plastic pollution as it degrades faster than other more durable plastics. However, the problem is that there are no results to support that it degrades harmlessly, but rather now researchers believe that it might be the leading problem of microplastic pollution. Microplastics can also be found in our synthetic sports clothes which get into the waterways when we wash them, to which there is no great solution yet.

Our second problem with plastic pollution is harming our wildlife. The bigger pieces of plastic get tangled into wildlife (you’ve all seen the horrible pictures of turtles with straws in their noses) and the smaller pieces, as well as microplastics, get eaten by the wildlife when they mistake them for food. Animals either choke on the plastic or fill themselves on it, which means they eat less nutritious food, therefore producing less and weaker offspring. At the moment it affects the food chain. When an animal eats another one that is half-full of plastic, the plastic is then stuck in the predator, which might then be eaten by another predator… and you get the drift. It disrupts the ecosystem drastically, but it is hard to tell what the repercussions are. The microplastics are already found in our tap water and in the fish we eat.

What's All The Fuss About Plastic? - byLiiL

It might contain toxic chemicals

Plastics and the chemicals they’ve been made out of are not well researched. Our governments used to believe the small amounts of the toxic chemicals that are in the out everyday plastics are harmless, but who can say how much of it really is safe when plastics are everywhere; household appliances, technology, textiles, interiors, toys. Recently we learned that phthalates are very toxic and we have almost completely gotten rid of them from the production of items, but we will never completely be rid of them because they’ve washed out into the oceans where they keep degrading and being eaten by the marine life.

Now we also know that BPA is toxic and that is why there are so many water bottles and food boxes being marketed as BPA-free. But why is BPA still allowed in any products? And how do we know that the chemicals they replace the BPA with are safe for our use?

Many toxic plastics have been found to be able to imitate hormone such as estrogen, but as most plastics aren’t researched well enough it is still hard to tell which ones are really harmful to us.

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There is a lot of research on the plastic bottles and food packaging and how it affects our bodies. Yes, the chemicals do leak into our food and drink slowly. The chemicals affect the hormone balance and they are linked to nearly all health problems people have today; deformations in genitals, premature puberty, decreased sperm quality, increase in cancer, infertility, type 2 diabetes, allergies, neurological problems and ADHD to mention a few.

Recycling

The one good thing about plastic is that it is very durable and therefore it is used in many different items and can last for a long time. However, the problem is that as plastic is not designed originally for recycling it can’t be upcycled into new and better use, but rather has to be downcycled. It is often mixed with different chemicals which are difficult to extract from each other. After it’s use, to make plastic usable again some more chemicals need be added again. The other chemicals are added either for the durability or to make the plastic cheaper to produce and are often unnecessary. Many plastics are still not recyclable and burning them produces toxic dioxide. If these plastics were made without toxic chemicals with ingredients which would be easily upcycled then plastics could be a great option for some products.

What's All The Fuss About Plastic? - byLiiL

Plastic is considered maybe even more dangerous problem to our planet than the climate change. It has taken over our world; it can be found in places where people can’t even go. Writing this article also made me think about all the products where plastics can be found and I couldn’t think of an item where it couldn’t be found. Can you?

Things NOT to do with plastic:

  1. Don’t through it into nature
  2. Don’t through it into general waste where it will end up in the landfill
  3. Don’t burn it, as most plastic emits dioxide

What To Do:

  1. Reduce the amount of plastic and cans you are using or at least become aware of what type of plastics you are using. Prefer glass and ceramic products. There is a great explanation on this here.
  2. Opt out for natural with everything: clothes, homeware, toys. Or at least research it well.
  3. Use Guppyfriend washing bag. It is designed to reduce the number of microfibers leaking into our waterways.

 

What do you think about plastic?

With love,

Lii