Meet the Team: Throughout Plastic Free July we will be introducing the Last team and sharing our own personal journeys to plastic-free living. First up, co-founder of Last – Suzie.
1. How long have you been on your plastic-free journey?
I have a terrible memory but it’s been at least 5 years.
2. What motivated you to start your plastic-free journey?
Again, memory is failing me but I have always cared about the planet. I turned vegetarian at 10. But for some reason it did take me a while to recognise the impact of the plastic and synthetic waste my lifestyle was creating. I used to be a big shopper!
The impact on the planet wasn’t the only factor. My health was too. I had suffered from IBS for many years and while seeking alternative health perspectives I came across a lot of information about the toxicity of our modern environment and plastic in particular.
3. What item(s) did you start with and why?
It must have been my battle against plastic bags. I have been a lover of tote bags for a long time. My home town, Selkirk, was one of the first towns in Scotland to trial a ban on plastic bags. This was before the plastic bag charge came in. Even though we had long since moved to Glasgow, I was very proud!
4. What are some realisations, good or bad, you have had while on your personal journey?
- Things taste bad from plastic!
- Avoiding plastic has given me more reason to cook from scratch and I feel much healthier for that.
- I now really dislike the feeling of plastic.
- I used to love plastic! When I was young I loved kitsch and loved decorating my room with pointless plastic objects!
5. What has surprised you about the plastic-free journey?
Sometimes my plastic-free rules help with my decision making! As an indecisive person, having rules about only buying loose fruit and veg can make trips to the fruit shops quicker. I only have to choose from the produce that is unwrapped. Sometimes I get a treat like today when I find raspberries in a cardboard box!
6. How did you feel at the start of your plastic-free journey in comparison to how you feel now?
Hmm… if I’m honest at the beginning I felt like I was achieving a lot as I started with easy swaps. Now there is a lot of guilt surrounding the things that I find harder to change. Also, more frustration having made the changes and seeing other people around me continuing to create plastic waste.
But I also feel very positive that there is much more of a movement around reducing plastic waste than there was 5 years ago and it’s great to be part of that and supporting others to make changes.
7. What do you wish you knew when you started your plastic-free journey?
I wish there was someone else to do all the research as I took a lot of time to find alternatives to each individual product. That’s why we started Last! To share what we had found, tried, tested and put everything in one place, making it easier for people to start themselves.
8. What would be most helpful to you on your plastic-free journey and why?
Sometimes, especially as a new parent, it just feels too much to cook every meal from scratch and options for plastic-free convenience food are very limited. I wish there were more. As new parents, we splashed out on Allplants ready meals. At that time they were completely plastic-free as the film on the packaging was compostable. Unfortunately, they have now changed this and it’s ‘recyclable’, although I’m yet to find somewhere in Glasgow that I can do this! Nevertheless, it’s not a bad option as the rest of the packaging is plastic free and/or returnable (with free return shipping) for reuse. (And no, that is not an affiliate link!)
9. What are three beliefs you had about going plastic free that turned out to be incorrect?
- I need to get rid of all my plastic things – We downgraded a lot of containers in the kitchen to store things other than food due to toxicity issues, but otherwise, there’s no need to create more waste by throwing out existing plastic objects!
- Everyone can make the changes as easily as I have – In reality we all deal with change differently and different approaches to change might suit people better
- It’s going to be hard to be a plastic-free parent – In fact, this is what someone told me, but I was determined. And I have more or less succeeded. I have a rule that any plastic we buy is secondhand. This takes quite a lot of shopping around on eBay, Gumtree, Marketplace and local shops like Merry-go-round and Kinderhandl but is very satisfying!
10. What are three pieces of advice you would give to anyone considering starting their plastic-free journey?
- We came up with the #startwithonething campaign in response to a discussion with colleagues in my day job about the overwhelm of the situation after watching David Attenborough’s latest documentary. In essence, it’s about starting small with one thing that seems manageable. Once you’ve got that down and it feels easy, move to the next one. It can be very small but it’s still a step in the right direction!
- Find something that fits with your lifestyle. If it’s too far out of your comfort zone, it’s not going to happen.
- Find a change that brings you joy. You’re much more likely to keep it up if it feels better than your old habit. For example, I love the way my loose produce looks stored in reused jars. Strange but true.
We’d love to hear about your plastic free journey. Leave your comments below!