With Kenya banning plastic bags last year (hurrah Kenya!!) we found ourselves becoming increasingly aware of how much waste there is in our lives, and in particular with our use of plastic. Thankfully the government helped us stop using plastic bags pretty much overnight, but that doesn't mean there aren't other things that are incredibly wasteful - that we could easily do without! So I've had time to think about what my top tips would be and here they are:
Don't leave the house without a kikapu, a cardboard box or something that you can put your shopping in. Supermarkets don't always have spare cardboard boxes to use, and the nylon bags they use nowadays for carrying shopping bring their own burden on the planet (how they are made, and how short a lifespan they tend to have). Also, avoid the net bags for your vegetables - when they end up in the ocean they are a real threat to a lot of marine life.
There are so many things out there that we think we need (thanks to clever marketing and advertising) but do we?? Ask yourself three times before you buy something: do I have to have this or could I live without it? Move away from excessive living and embrace a simpler way - and tread lightly on the earth.
SEPARATE YOUR RUBBISH
We live in a neighbourhood where rubbish pickers come and sort through our rubbish to collect their specialist material - we have Paul the tin man, and another chap who comes to find the plastic. They take this waste and sell it by the kilo into the recycling market, but we can give them a little more dignity by pre-sorting the waste for them. Alternatively, sort the waste at home and take it to your nearest recycling depot.
Go natural with your cleaning products and you'll be doing everyone a favour. There are a few options in Kenya including Cinnabar Green and Grounded, and if you can move to buying in bulk then so much the better (more product for less plastic).
Get yourself one of those fabulous reusable mugs for your cup of tea in the morning, it will save you buying a cup of tea later and using a throw-away cup. Also - look out for cafés that use compostable or recyclable cups.
REJECT THE STRAW (AND THE PLASTIC BOTTLE)!
Straws are a such an unnecessary part of drinking - but if you must have one, you can get awesome metal ones now that can be reused. But when you go out for meals and drinks, you'll probably need to make a point of asking for no straw, otherwise it may just come as a matter of course! Since I gave up single use plastic bottles at New Year, I've found myself asking cafés and restaurants if they bring their water in glass or plastic bottles. The more we ask, the more pressure there is on the venue to change the way they are doing things.
BUY IN BULK
The more you can buy in bulk, the less you have to drive your car to and from the supermarket, and the fewer containers you will end up buying. So consider looking for dishwashing soap in 5 litre mutungis, large packets of household staples like rice, rather than smaller packets. These small decisions build up to making a big difference if enough of us start doing them.
reject, reduce, reuse, recycle - ROT
Start a compost bin where all your compostable waste can be thrown and put on a compost heap to make fertile compost for your garden. And on that note: if you have space to grow your own veggies you can be sure there will be no nasties on them!
When I set up greenspoon I realised there were more people than I realised who were super keen to shop consciously - whether that be conscious of provenance, conscious of the impact of buying from a particular supplier, conscious of supporting local producers, or conscious of the quality of the products. Let's not go blindly through life when every single decision we make impacts the people around us.