January is ‘Veganuary’, an opportunity for those who are curious about leading a vegan lifestyle to give it a try for a month, and hopefully, stick to it from then on. July is ‘Plastic-free July’, a similar concept which gives people the incentive to give up using plastic, finding alternatives along the way and becoming more conscious of their use of it. So this is the month I break my plastic habit… Or at least that’s the goal.
Anyone who has ever attempted the lofty goal of “zero waste” knows how daunting it can be to break your dependence on plastic.
Plastic is entrenched in our society, it’s ubiquitous in every industry. It’s the material of modern civilisation. And it’s killing us, our planet, and the species we share it with. As ethical vegans, it’s important to cause the least amount of harm we can, and when taking a look at the devastation plastic causes to animals, it’s only logical that we take the right steps in reducing or even eliminating it altogether. Here are some concerning facts about plastic:
- Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
- 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away.
- Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times.
- We currently recover only five percent of the plastics we produce.
- Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.
- It takes 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade.
- Plastic constitutes approximately 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile.
- One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.
- 44% of all seabird species, 22% of cetaceans, all sea turtle species and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies.
- Virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form (with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated).
It seems ridiculous to destroy our children’s futures and our own just for a little convenience. But that’s exactly the challenge I’m facing now on a daily basis.
It takes time and effort ingrained behaviour.
A year ago I decided on a whim to try to go vegan. I thought I had set myself an impossible goal. But to my own surprise I stuck with it.
I think a lot about that decision and what makes a person capable of change. That I am capable of change. It taught me that I can reject my status quo and replace unhealthy habits with new, healthier ones
Stuck in daily routine, it can feel like true change is impossible, but we’re stronger than we realise. There’s an intangible moment, when we stretch our minds and realise that this is what we want. It’s the person you want to be.
Once you commit your heart to a certain path you realise the obstacles you’d placed in your way are not as insurmountable as they seemed.
Four years before I decided to go vegan, I left my home country and decided to live overseas. Nothing breaks habits better than being placed into a completely foreign environment. You can feel lost without the comfort of routine. What brand of shampoo do you use? what bread do you buy? What does this new life of mine look like?
You have to learn pretty quickly, or you’ll make yourself miserable. So when I went vegan I recognised that “lost” feeling. But I also new it was only temporary. Soon this new lifestyle becomes your new norm.
Now doing zero waste I feel lost again. I’m having to educate myself, learn new habits and buy strange new products.
You might ask why I would subject myself to this. Just how difficult does life have to be? But I know I’m strong enough to break this habit. You just have to open up your eyes and choose who you want to be.