PLASTIC FREE MERMAID

In celebration of Plastic Free July, Kate of @plasticfreemermaid joined us in our boutique {alongside SIPP and our new exclusive Pottery For The Planet cups} with a DIY eucalyptus cleaning spray. We chatted with Kate as she shares her story and tips to going plastic free even beyond the month of July.

You’re known as plastic free mermaid ~ tell us about this name, and your plastic free journey… what first ignited this passion in you?

I studied environmental philosophy in college. I first learned about plastic pollution from an amazing scientist I was volunteering for who taught me that plastic doesn’t biodegrade and that it is collecting in our waterways and flowing out to the oceans where it breaks UP—not down—into microscopic bits that are impossible to clean up! This shocked me into quitting plastics. 

I am a mermaid. I surf, free-dive, sail, find solace in the sea, explore immense awe and childlike wonder in the diverse and unknown marine ecosystems, have experienced incredible healing, and have immeasurable respect for the force of water and the power of the sea. I was horrified that my use of plastic would be contributing the the ocean’s degradation and decline.

My initial motivation when I first quit disposable plastics ten years ago was to protect and preserve the oceans. All aspects of this decision have been expanding outward ever since. As I continue to learn more about how ubiquitous plastic is, my commitment to living plastic free refines. My initial reason, the oceans, is stronger than ever. And is now joined by my fear for future generations, my own health, my friends and family. As I learn how far reaching plastic pollution is—from extraction of oil to make the plastics to end of life waste polluting communities across the socio economic spectrum—the more I am dedicated to this journey!

In celebration of Plastic Free July ~ what are your top tips for living plastic free?

That depends on your relationship with plastics! To start, I recommend quitting the top four: plastic bags, bottles, straws, and plastic food containers. When we try to define this last category, we realise how very far reaching plastic is. Plastic food containers can include takeaway boxes for Thai, styrofoam clamshells for burritos, smoothie cups, pre-packed salads, coffee cups (yes, the lid, and also paper cups are lined with plastic!), processed packaged crackers and cookies and chips and candy, pre-sliced fruit and veg, soups, we are even learning that metal cans and paper is often lined with plastic! When you start to phase all of this out, you will find yourself left with healthy, fresh, whole foods. And you will not have the chore of dealing with the trash as often either! ;)

Alternatively, you could work backwards. Start with a “trash audit.” This means that you take your trash and recycling bins and dump them out on a tarp on the lawn or the garage floor. Sort through the materials and make a list of all the plastic you have used. When we understand our trash, we can prevent it at the source. We can strategically approach this month free of plastics by knowing which plastics to target. We then revise our shopping lists, identify items we will need to seek out alternatives for or perhaps make ourselves, what items we need to be on high alert for this month (things given to us without our consent! such as straws, sauce packets, plastic dressing containers, plastic cutlery, plastic coated receipts, etc.). 

QUICK TIPS:

  • Keep one large mason jar and chopsticks in your bag for all purposes! The jar can hold coffee to go, smoothie, salad, soup, curry, Thai, bulk bought nuts, cherry tomatoes, the possibilities are endless!
  • Shopping may be a bit different at the average grocery store. Aside from glass jars with metal lids, you will want to stick to the outside perimeter of the store where the fresh fruit and vegetables live.  Get in the habit of bringing ALL your reusable bags when you go shopping, use the bags for produce! Use tupperware in the deli! Get to the bakery early before they’ve bagged the bread!
  • Research all of the local farmer’s markets in your area and the schedule, so you can get there. Bring your own bags!
  • Research if there are any bulk food stores nearby. If not, perhaps you and some friends can go on a bulk food road trip once a month to stock up! Alternatively, many folks with no access will order in large quantities and share amongst friends.
  • What to do with all those jars you bought from the grocery store? Repurpose them of course! I love storing food in jars, whether it’s bulk dry goods, leftovers, or foods headed for the freezer! (make sure to leave space in the jar for the food to expand when freezing!)
  • When eating out let them know you don’t use plastics, so please no straws, cups for salad dressings, or plastic butter squares
  • Carve out a little time each week to MAKE SOMETHING, like a cleaning product or deodorant, or face cleansing oil, or plant milk!
  • Prepping food will help you so much! If you stock your fridge with delicious things, you will be far less tempted to indulge in plastic packaged treats if you need suggestions, find my blog or youtube for recipes!
  • Be creative, get resourceful, and stay positive through challenging moments!
  • Please don’t plastic shame people! Lead by beautiful, graceful example and inspire change around you!

What is inspiring you right now? 

I am a science nerd that has been frustrated by the lack of cause and effect evidence proving the chemicals that leach from plastics are causing negative health impacts.  A lot of new data is coming out proving this and this is super exciting because it will help influence policy banning plastics, which will benefit the health of the environment and humanity in a huge way. I am super inspired to continue spreading this information, empowering others to make changes, and contributing to policy change.

AND ALSO, I just landed back in  Australia where it is whale season and my imagination is wild with visions of whales! I am so inspired to swim in the sea and dive under the salty surface to listen for their swet songs!

Thank you for joining us in our boutique and sharing your eucalyptus spray recipe ~

You’ll need…
10-20 eucalyptus leaves
1 lemon (sliced)
Boiling water
Glass bottles

Simply pour enough boiling water to cover the eucalyptus leaves and lemon in a bowl. Allow to steep so ingredients can become concentrated for cleaning. Pour into glass bottles for keeping.

We kept it super simple last weekend by boiling native eucalyptus leaves and local lemons into a strong tea to make a cleaner. These are very common here in Australia, so we don’t need to stress about buying ingredients, wondering where they came from and if they are organic, worry about the packaging and disposal of said wrapping. We can simply go on a walk in nature! Making a light tea from these leaves (just one or two!) is traditionally used for colds and flu. We are making a highly concentrated tea, so that we can capture more of the oils and the potent scent to use as a cleaner in our homes. 

We are avoiding the strong toxic chemicals that have become the norm as cleaning products. These are packaged in plastic spray bottles and full of germ killing toxins that the government is not regulating. This is harmful to our health! And when in contact with our organic food contaminates it! And is hard to filter out of our water! And completely unnecessary. Nature provides enough solutions for us to clean our homes with without subjecting our bodies to these harsh and unknown chemicals. 

For more cleaning recipes subscribe or visit blog here

A parting message…

I feel so grateful to be able to share the science and also this one of many solutions with the lovely ladies of Spell. I think it important to address how fortunate we are to be able to make these “sustainable” choices. I have learned in my journey to zero-waste what an incredible privilege it is to embrace this zero-waste lifestyle. It seems like a sacrifice to say no to certain plastics, to wash out plastic containers and be meticulous about recycling, to go without and make our own instead of buying plastic products. 

I am well aware that not all people have the ability to reduce their plastic use, have access to farmer’s markets and bulk food stores, or the capacity to make time to make plant milks and bread and cleaning products. Not for lack of desire, most people on the planet would want to preserve the environment and keep their families healthy and safe from toxins. When they are educated on this, it is not that they prefer using plastics, it is just beyond their reach to make the lifestyle changes. It is a privilege to make these choices. I am immeasurably grateful for this opportunity to share these little lifestyle shifts. And henceforth dedicated to this work to help make these options more accessible to all.  The more we—those with the resources and capacity to change—normalise living without plastics, the more we will influence the economy to provide less plastic packaging, lower the price on plastic alternatives, and ultimately spill into politics where law will make this lifestyle more accessible to all instead of it’s current form, where socio-economic status is a barrier for participation. 

We are so lucky. The more we who have the resources and capacity to change, do so, the more we will help influence society to make it easier and more accessible for all who wish to quit plastics as well. 

There are so many people who would love to live without plastics—for the earth and for their health—but do not have the choice, perhaps because in a food dessert or they cannot afford the high priced alternatives. We who have the ability to change, should. For the planet, for our own super sensitive endocrine systems, for the rest of the world that wishes they could be so lucky as to make nut milk and eucalyptus spray and body butter! 

With love to @plasticfreemermaid