Article 4 for the Dawlish Gazette by Vanessa Ryley, writing for Dawlish Against Plastic. 08.01.2020.

Small changes soon mount up

Since taking an active interest in campaigning to reduce the use of single-use plastic in Dawlish, I have naturally embraced a desire to live in a more sustainable way. I can’t claim to be faultless on this particular front, but at least I am aware of my responsibility and have set about changing things where I can.

The day always begins with tea. My first one of the day is generally a tea bag but I have taken to buying the ones that use organic tea and unbleached, plastic-free bags. Later on, I will be using loose leaf tea and a teapot and tea strainer or infuser.

And so, to the shower! I have a bar of soap and a flannel at the ready and try to keep my shower gel for special occasions. If I wash my hair, I have a shampoo bar and a conditioner in a refillable bottle, both of which can be purchased in Dawlish. I use the minimum of a simple moisturiser, no make-up and a natural deodorant. I also try to be in there for as little time as possible.

I have fruit and yogurt for breakfast but it bothers me that the yogurt comes in plastic containers and that the fruit has come from other countries, so I have a yogurt maker which I try to keep going and I am turning part of my relatively small garden over to growing fruit this year.

Fortunately, it is one of those rare winter days with a little wind and some sun so my washing can go outside on the line once it has been washed at 30 degrees in a washing liquid that is in a refillable bottle, again available in Dawlish.

Today I want to visit a few shops in Newton Abbot as I have decided, after some investigation, that what I need can’t be purchased in Dawlish and I don’t want to buy online as it is having a severe effect on the high street shops. Time isn’t really a constraint, so I am going on the train, which saves my poor little car, is less stressful than driving in the inevitable traffic and is better for the environment. Fortunately, the station is within easy walking distance at both ends and I get to look out on some of the most stunning river views in the country. I take my refillable cup with me so I can have a drink at the station and my fillable water bottle in case I need to sip in between. I have got my reusable bag tucked away in my bag for any purchases I might make.

As I arrive home, I am reminded that it is bin day tomorrow. I have very little in my black bin as I have done my best to find out what can be recycled and where on the Teignbridge website. I have saved my stretchy plastic bags for recycling at Sainsbury’s and have a small collection of the sharing size crisp packets which are collected up at a local school and sent to Terracycle.

In writing this article I have tried to highlight some of the areas in our everyday lives where we can make an impact and live more sustainably with some thought and planning. Of course, it doesn’t cover every aspect and I have a long way to go, but I hope it illustrates that living more sustainably is often something that just requires some additional thought and awareness. It is better that a lot of people take small steps than a few people doing things ‘perfectly’.

Many of our local shops and cafes are reducing their use of single use plastic items and replacing them with more sustainable alternatives. Dawlish Against Plastic has enabled eleven businesses to achieve ‘Plastic Free Champion’ status from Surfers Against Sewage and in time more will join them. Shopping locally wherever possible is better for the environment in terms of journeys made and offers support for the local economy so to me it seems like a winning combination.