Did you know that plastic is a substance the earth cannot digest? Meaning, it isn't biodegradable. It can break into smaller pieces but it never goes away. Have you ever taken the time to think about what that means for our earth? For us?
A few months ago I read about "The Swim", which is the journey of a man, Ben Lecomte, who is currently swimming (2018) across the Pacific Ocean. One of the purposes of his expedition is to bring awareness to this problem of plastic.
Did you know there is about 80,000 tonnes of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean in an area know as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? To put that into perspective - a little - that is the same weight as 500 jumbo jets. Do you know how much space that takes up? 1.6 million square kilometers! But if you are like me that number doesn't mean much. How about this? 1.6 million square kilometers is twice the size of Texas and three times the size of France. So floating out there in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch there is about 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic covering an area of two Texas's. Think about that for a minute...
When I first read about Ben and The Swim I was amazed! I can't fathom swimming in salt water every day for six months. Then I read that he would be swimming right through this Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I went from being amazed to being compelled. Compelled to do SOMETHING, ANYTHING to not contribute so much to this horrid problem we have floating in the Pacific Ocean.
As I stood in the shower one morning staring at my extra large sized plastic shampoo, conditioner, and body wash bottles, I began doing some math. My shampoo and conditioner bottles last about two months. That's 12 bottles per year. Multiply that by 50 years. Assuming I live to at least 80, that is 600 plastic bottles that I am consuming! And that doesn't even include body wash!! Have you ever stopped to think about that?
I have read about and thought about joining the "no poo" movement many times over the last few years. For those that don't know, this means no longer shampooing your hair.
There are several reasons why people choose to do this such as not wanting to rub chemical on their body every week or finding that their hair is actually nicer, more manageable, and more voluminous after a few months of not using shampoo. And although these things appealed to me I just couldn't get past the phase of having greasy, nasty hair while my body adjusted the amount of oil to produce on my head. But then those calculations entered into my mind. 600 plastic bottles that I would use and discard...or...600 plastic bottles that I wouldn't use and discard if I joined the no poo movement.
I decided right then and there that I would not shampoo and condition my hair again. I decided this was ONE thing I could do to cut down on the amount of plastic that I would personally be discarding into the environment. It's been three months since I last washed my hair with shampoo and conditioner. And ya know what? My hair is great! It isn't disgustingly oily, it doesn't smell, and I don't get strange looks from people. In fact, I don't think anyone, not even my friends and family, have noticed!
You might be wondering what exactly I do with my hair because obviously it does need to be cleaned somehow! It's fairly simple. I "wash" my hair with water most days. Then, once a week I cleanse my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. I know what you're thinking...well you're probably thinking two things - apple cider vinegar comes in a plastic bottle and doesn't your hair smell like apple cider vinegar??
Apple cider vinegar does come in a plastic bottle. I am hoping to find an alternative to this but I haven't yet. When I do the calculations to figure out how many bottles of apple cider vinegar I would use in the next 50 years, the number is 32. So even if I can't find an alternative, I'd rather use 32 bottles in 50 years, than 600! Wouldn't you? Oh! And think about the money you'll save also ;)
As for the smell...honestly, my hair doesn't smell like apple cider vinegar. But if you were really concerned about that you could dilute some essential oil and spray it in your hair :)
Oh, and as for the body wash in a plastic bottle? That's an easy switch! Just pick up a natural bar of soap packaged in cardboard instead of plastic.
So what I am saying here? Am I asking you to stop using shampoo, conditioner, and body wash from plastic bottles? Not exactly. I'm asking you to think about what plastic you can eliminate from your life. Plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash are one easy way to eliminate some plastic but there are SO many other things you can personally do. Stop and think about what those things are and then take action!
As I write this I'm looking around me and seeing plastic EVERYWHERE. I don't know if it's possible to completely eliminate plastic from my life. There are people and organizations out there that are working toward a world free of plastic pollution. Maybe I can't eliminate it completely, and maybe you can't either. But we CAN reduce our use. We CAN contribute less to the global problem of plastic harming the environment and poisoning the groundwater and the food chain. We CAN contribute to a reduction in plastic waste that is known to cause cancer, birth defects, and weakened immunity.
The question is, WILL you?