Plastic not so fantastic

Plastic not so fantastic

Often, the only sadness we feel after a day’s walking is that it had to end. You drive away, clinging on to the views, the space, the clean air, as you catch a final glimpse of the distant peaks in your rear view mirror. This sadness is only fleeting, as you take comfort knowing the mountains will always be there, waiting for your return, and thoughts turn to your next adventure.

This familiar sensation was present after completing the recent circuit of Derwent Water as part of my Lakes of the Lakes challenge. But, in the week that followed, I couldn’t shake another feeling of sadness. Alongside all the positive memories of my walk, another, more depressing image had been etched in my mind.

I’m talking about litter. Lots of it. Not just the odd Toffee Crisp wrapper blown out of someone’s pocket but litter carelessly and deliberately discarded. Poo in plastic bags hanging from trees. Cigarette butts peppering the paths. There was just more of it than I’ve seen before in the mountains. All this at a time when I thought people were finally starting to take a little more care of the environment.

It saddened me but I’m using this experience as a reminder to redouble my efforts away from the hills to reduce the amount of litter I produce. Please share these ideas and together we’ll have a positive impact in the fight to reduce unnecessary waste:

1. Water bottles

We are very lucky in this country to have safe, glorious, free drinking water available literally on tap. Why then would we buy mineral water in plastic bottles for a ridiculous price? It makes no sense!

For the cost of only a few bottles of mineral water, you can get yourself a reusable drinks bottle. Fill it up at home, ask for it to be topped up when you are out and about and you’ll save a heap of cash and cut down on plastic waste.

Opt for one which is BPA free – you don’t want nasty chemicals in your H2O. I like the Camelbak Eddy which is a decent size, doesn’t leak and comes in a range of funky colours.

2. Coffee cups

Us Brits can’t get enough of our frothy coffees. Unfortunately, most disposable cups can’t be recycled and we get through a frightening amount every day.

I invested in an insulated cup last year. Only cost me a tenner and it keeps my coffee warm for hours, cuts down on waste and most coffee shops will even give you a discount if you use your own cup.

Lifeventure’s thermal mug is a great choice. It looks good, comes in a wide range of colours and keeps your drink warm for hours. I often make myself a nice coffee at home where a bag of decent coffee costs the same as one cup from the well known chains, saving me loads of money.

Quick tip – if your beverage-of-choice is a cappuccino, be sure to drink it straight away. I bought one the other day, only to find after an hour the froth had vanished, leaving a thimble-sized drop of watery coffee in my mug. Not the best!

3. Fruit and veg

Opt for loose fruit and vegetables at the supermarket, not the pre-packaged varieties in plastic. Some supermarkets are starting to offer more traditional paper bags for their loose produce, as opposed to the thin plastic jellyfish on a spool. If your favourite supermarket hasn’t gone down this route yet, be sure to reuse your bags, rather than getting new ones each time.

4. Razor blades

Disposable razor blades are incredibly damaging to the environment. They end up in landfill and we get through an astonishing amount every year.

Electric shavers are a greener option. Not only do you cut down on the amount of blades tossed in the bin but you also save water. I picked up a decent Braun unit for about 50 quid and now prefer it to a wet shave.

Despite the upfront cost, I’m still quids in given the cost of the latest 15-blade-diamond-coated-turbo-charged manual options the manufacturers would have us believe are necessary to keep our faces smooth.

Or you could just grow a beard.

5. Rucksacks

Ditch the carrier bags (even the bags for life) for a rucksack. Bags for life are great but they aren’t the comfiest to carry any great distance when full of shopping. A rucksack will allow you to walk or cycle to the nearest shop, instead of taking the car, meaning running out of milk becomes a great excuse to get some exercise.

Save the planet, get outside more and improve your mental well-being at the same time. The rucksack is my favourite green accessory!

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