Today I'm joined by Gibraltar Point Education and Community Officer, and Marine Specialist, Vicki Bush. Vicki has been slowly trying to cut down on plastic and find alternatives for day-to-day products, and has kindly shared her hints and tips below!
Q&A with Vicki Bush
1. Where were you when you first started noticing a problem with plastic pollution?
I used to work in Mexico and we cleared the beach in front of our base every week. We would do a full clear of the same section, getting even the tiniest of pieces and one week later we would fill as many bags of rubbish as the week before. Because of where we were and the currents in the Caribbean Sea everything would get carried in our direction.
We started reading the labels to see how many different countries the rubbish was coming from and were amazed, we found things from all over the world. It made me realise how long the waste we produce lasts and how much we can spread that out all over the world as it travels around and through the currents in the sea.
2. What’s been the most surprising item you’ve found to contain plastic? (Mine was teabags!)
When we do beach cleans one of the things we find a lot of are cigarette butts and not being a smoker I was amazed to realise that they contain plastic. They don’t look like they would.
3. What have you found the hardest to find an alternative for?
I think for me this would be food. The amount of food that comes in plastic wrapping is massive. I’ve been trying to go to the grocers for my fruit and veg and now have some reusable veg bags that can go in the washing machine, and the butcher for my meat but even then it can still be difficult to get thing that are not wrapped in plastic. Sometimes this is for hygiene reasons other times there just isn’t an alternative.
4. What do you never leave the house without?
It’s a newer thing for me but I now always carry a reusable bottle, no matter where I’m going. It can be really difficult to get a drink when rushing about that doesn’t come in a plastic bottle.
5. Who do you look to for advice or inspiration on living plastic-free?
I have been using a few different websites like the Marine Conservation Society and Surfer Against Sewage and have started following them and other marine conservation groups on Facebook. With plastic being a big talking point recently there are always ideas and suggestions for how to reduce your single use plastics.
6. And finally, with plastic-free July just around the corner, could you share with us your three top tips for starting to reduce your plastic waste?
My first would be get a reusable bottle. There are apps out there like ‘Refill’ that will help you to find places you can refill your bottle when you are on the go, and lots of companies have started to pledge to fill people water bottles for free so it is getting easier to refill your bottle no matter where you are.
My second would be look if there are alternatives. It could just be a simple switch in the product you buy. Cotton buds and straws can both come without plastic.
And lastly, when possible make and take your lunch with you. It’s cheaper and helps to use less packaging. I found out the other day a meal deal fan can buy between 200 and 250 plastic bottles a year, which is a mad amount when you put it like that.
My tip would be if you are trying for a long term change don’t try and do everything at once, it’s a lot of take on. Try switching to plastic free products as things run out, this will give you time to do a little research and costing up to see what you want to try. Some things are more expensive but I’ve found they are lasting me much longer and ending up cheaper in the long run.
If you've been inspired by Vicki's crack-down on plastic, why not join her and other volunteers and take part in a beach clean!