Embrace the plastic-bag-free life, Edinburgh

We’ve all heard the age old edict, look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. But with the latest introduction of a 5p charge on each and every bag we buy from the supermarket, reducing our reliance on plastic now has an economic upside. However gloriously fashionable, and endlessly useful one may find the plastic bag, the fact of the matter is that unless we cut down on our plastic consumption, those 5p’s will eat into the Saturday night VK fund. Indifferent though we may be as to the state of the environment, or the state of our finances; if there’s one thing students won’t stand for, it’s missing Big Cheese on a Saturday night for the sake of a few extra plastic bags. But hey, why not take this opportunity to go a step further? Embrace the inner hippie, step over to the edgy side of earthy, jump on the bohemian bandwagon and begin to phase plastic out of your life.

The over reliance of modern society on plastic is something that is easy to ignore. Sure, why shouldn’t I buy four apples wrapped in cling film? Of course I need a plastic bag to carry my banana and yoghurt the 400 meters to the library. But the reliance on plastic extends beyond simply buying a few bags for life and hoping for the best. Sainsbury’s local points recycle 153,993 tonnes of plastic a month. Does this not seem excessive? If we really want to make a difference to the plastic consumption, we need to change our behaviour on a day to day basis.

That’s exactly what Eleanor McCall did, but rather than opt for the slow and steady approach, she curbed her plastic addiction cold turkey. On January 1 2014, Ellie embarked on a plastic free year; meaning she would not buy a single item made from plastic for twelve months. Whilst this may seem extreme, this brave move tackles our over reliance on plastic as a substance. Rather than just chucking it in the recycling bin, Ellie’s efforts attempt to highlight the lack of necessity to ‘use it so excessively’.  Nevertheless, Ellie has made a stellar effort; she buys fruit and veg from local markets and subsists  on tinned food, grains, pulses and rice which she buys from local, smaller retailers and scoops into her own material or paper bags. She buys blocks of shampoos, conditioners and soaps from Lush Cosmetics Company, proving that plastic and pampering are not items that necessarily have to go hand in hand.

But what about the costs?  How can one cut out plastic on a student budget? According to Ellie, by ‘using less you do end up saving money’, all it takes is a little organisation. The elimination of plastic means the elimination of the meal deal. It forces one to prepare a lunch or a meal that you can take with you.

The reliance on plastic is according to Ellie ‘very intertwined with quick fix culture’; being prepared to cut out the ‘quick fix’ means eating healthier, cheaper and more satisfying food. Plus, by pinching the pennies we not only save the planet, but our pockets. Maybe the plastic-free lifestyle isn’t for everyone but, as Ellie says, plastic is something that is ‘really easy to cut down on but really difficult to cut out altogether’. Go on, give it a go: start or continue looking after the pennies, and the planet will look after itself.

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