Shop smarter, reduce plastic, save the environment.
3 June 2020
Local environmentalist, Zofia Martin aka @zocogirl, began her journey to a minimal-waste lifestyle after spending two months scuba diving in the Philippines. She found crabs using plastic bottles instead of shells, vibrant coral reefs wrapped up in plastic bags and personally removed countless nappies from the seabed. Now that she’s back home in Ancoats she’s using her personal platform to share advice on how we can all minimise plastic use in our homes.
“Plastic takes around five hundred years to decompose, and even then, it only decomposes to microplastics. These tiny particles of plastic have been found in beer, table salt, honey and even bottled water (National Geographic, 2019). Scientists remain uncertain of the health implications for humans, however millions of animals die every day from the plastic in our oceans, soil and on land. One of the many reasons why I decided to minimise my contribution to the global plastic crisis and to start generally making more eco-friendly choices in the way that I shop.
“It starts at home, take the General Store in Ancoats for example. Many of their products are sourced locally meaning a huge reduction in transportation fuel and emissions. You can buy bread that’s made in Manchester; pasta, dried goods and sauces from a responsible Yorkshire co-operative called ‘Suma’ and they stock an amazing collection of local, craft beers and spirits. However, I would like to bring your attention to the first area you walk past; the refill station.
“Of course you should always finish what you have before making eco-swaps but save your old jars, tubs and containers to be refilled. You will find rice, pasta, lentils, muesli, pistachios, banana chips, chocolate treats and so much more. Typically, refill stations work out cheaper than packaged goods because businesses save money by not manufacturing needless packaging which ultimately reduces plastic consumption. Plus, you have the flexibility to take as much or as little as you like.
“Next up, the household refill station. You’ll find big plastic tubs with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand soap, laundry liquid and more. The same concept as before, bring an old container and refill as much as you need.
"common laundry detergents are full of chemicals that promote harmful algae-bloom in local waterways which can severely lower oxygen levels and kill marine life"
“I find the household refill area extra special because the General Store have selected brands that only use natural ingredients that are sustainably sourced. Brands ‘Faith in Nature’ and ‘Suma’ never use chemicals or parabens and their products are always consciously designed to minimise environmental impact. For example, common laundry detergents are full of chemicals that promote harmful algae-bloom in local waterways which can severely lower oxygen levels and kill marine life. Meanwhile the ‘Ecoleaf’ detergent is fully bio-degradable and made from sustainably sourced plants.
“Imagine if every resident in Ancoats started to only use refill stations - we would save tonnes of plastic waste every year. The plastic crisis is a global issue, it will never be solved by one person alone however, in numbers we can greatly shift supply and demand so that more and more businesses start to offer refill options.
“For me, once I became aware of the devastating effects of plastic - I struggled to stop noticing plastic everywhere. In the last six months my lifestyle has shifted little by little so that my bathroom is now completely plastic-free aside from refill options, my wardrobe only grows with second-hand goodies (I’m boycotting new, polyester garments) and I have a growing assortment of super aesthetic jars in the kitchen, containing food from my refill trips.
“In time, I hope that more refill options will pop up across Ancoats and Manchester. I strongly believe that it is the future of grocery shopping; simply because oil is non-renewable. We cannot keep producing new plastic just so that it can be used for an instant and then take hundreds of years to decompose.”
Zofia Martin is an environmentalist that uses her platform to share eco-friendly product reviews, her research on climate change and her journey to a more sustainable life.
Follow her on Instagram @zocogirl
National Geographic (2019), “You Eat Thousands of Bits of Plastic Every Year” www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment/2019/06/you-eat-thousands-bits-plastic-every-year
Photo by Christian at Blossom. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org