One night my husband and I were sitting on the couch, watching Blue Planet II while our happy and healthy baby girl played on the floor beside us. A scene came on that I will never forget. A pilot whale, carrying around her lifeless, newborn calf. A David Attenborough voiceover was saying “Today in the Atlantic waters they have to share the ocean with plastic. A mother is holding her newborn young, it’s dead.”
He goes on to say that the calf was most likely poisoned by plastics that had contaminated its mother’s milk. I lost it.
When I became a mother, my whole world went through a metamorphic paradigm shift.
I questioned things I bought before I was pregnant, but it took on a whole new meaning for me when I got pregnant. Organic this, non-toxic that. This baby was going to come out singing Julie Andrew’s rendition of “The Hills are Alive” if it was the last thing I did. Needless to say, I was the stereotypical “crunchy” mom.
After watching Blue Planet II, I was again asking the immortal question, ‘What am I buying?’ I was looking after the well-being of myself, my family, but what about the environment?
I feel like being a mother gives you this innate ability to empathize with other mothers, no matter what species. After the initial incident, I realized I had to turn the spotlight on myself. I had to extend my circle of empathy beyond myself, beyond my family, beyond humanity.
My war against plastic had begun.
For the past couple of years, my family has slowly been weening off plastics.
However, for the month of July we decided we would quit plastic cold turkey and document our journey on social media in hopes of inspiring others to also reduce their plastic consumption.
For the most part, we were successful, and it became a fun challenge for our family. There were only a few things we purchased that came packaged such as some packaged food we bought for our daughters first birthday party.
I also started making several of my own eco-friendly personal care items, so a few of those ingredients also came packaged in plastic, but they replaced many different things, so I still called that one a net positive.
It needs to be stated that my poor husband is such a good sport. I’m sure it was terrifying for him to come home to me telling him that I wouldn’t be buying toilet paper anymore. Or here try this soap…I made it! He never flinched, he truly is a special kind of human, and am crazy lucky to have his support.
10 things I learned while eliminating plastic
- Every dollar you spend is a vote for what you want to see more of in the future. This is probably the most important thing you can take away. Companies are only influenced to change when their bottom line starts taking a hit.
- There are so many things we use daily that are so easy and simple to make an eco-friendly swap or make yourself.
- There are also several things that take a little more planning and prep. Be prepared to put in a little extra effort.
- We pay for convenience, and it’s costing us and the environment, big time.
- It can be very hard for many people, families in particular to eliminate all plastic use. However, small steps and awareness make a huge difference.
- Don’t stop trying. If something you make doesn’t turn out, try something else. I made my husband try natural deodorant once. Turns out he’s sensitive to baking soda and his armpits swelled up like golf balls. I felt pretty bad about that one.
- There is something so genuinely satisfying about less. Less ingredients. Spending less money. Wasting less, being one less person putting out 4.6 pounds of trash per day.
- Do your research. Read ingredient labels. Support companies that align themselves with your values.
- Support each other. We won’t all get it right or be perfect 100% of the time. Encouragement, support, and leading by example are the best instruments of change.
- What is good for your body, is good for the planet. Eating whole, unpackaged, unprocessed food is one of the best ways to get started on this journey. Your body will thank you.
The whole experience really opened our eyes to how reliant we are convenience and single-use plastics. We will forever be conscious of all of our purchases. Our goal for the future is to continue to eliminate our plastic use, with the ultimate goal of being a zero-waste family.