For years I worried about the overuse of detergents and what they would do to the environment. I started washing my clothes less frequently, wearing things longer and spot cleaning and airing rather than throwing lightly soiled items into the washing machine. I never put more washing detergent into the machine than was necessary because in this instance the more you use does not mean that your wash is any cleaner. I stopped using a softener altogether since it damages the clothes and inhibits towels from absorbing water.
I cut down on the number of washes I gave my hair - with very beneficial results for the health of my scalp I might add. I even showered less, having 'top and tail' washes on alternate days. Basically I returned almost to the hygiene practices of my youth. I started to feel like I was in control of my use of detergents and I was never swayed by Dove advertisements that featured women in the shower with mountains of foamy creamy shower gel all over their bodies. I suppose I felt a little smug - na na na-na na, you can't fool me 😋.
Or so I thought! Now it seems the real enemy is not the detergent I wash my clothes with but the actual clothes themselves! All those acrylic fleeces and easy care polyester shirts and dresses deposit thousands of micro filaments of plastic into the waste water systems that ultimately end up in the oceans where they have been found not only in the simplest marine life but all the way up to the fish we eat.
Plastic filaments of minute dimensions are all around us, in the air we breathe from our carpets, the tumble dryer, even coming off the painted lines in the road every time we drive over them. The health implications are unclear as scientists can't even begin to make studies because they can't find any uncontaminated people to use as a test group. This is serious stuff. The plastic problem is knocking Global warming into a cocked hat!
So. What can we do? Most of us care about the future of the planet and our legacy to future generations of humans but it's hard to see how we can, as individuals, do anything about it. I'm the sort of person that when a problem is identified I have to fix it - or make some kind of attempt at improving the situation. To me it's just a case of saying 'c'mon guys, get a grip'! if I ruled the world - and I mean dictatorship here 😂 global warming would be a thing of the past and we'd be well on the way to cleaning up the plastic crap too, but I digress!
In the past i have found that some of my good intentions can be stymied by laziness, so solutions have to be easy and not require too much effort if success is to be achieved. Bearing that in mind I have made the following declarations:
New clothes, either bought or made, must be of natural fibres or contain more than 50% natural fibres.
Existing synthetic materials will be relegated as much as possible to 'work wear' and almost never be washed (even though our waste water does not leave the finca).
A grand recycling of plastic plant pots from the finca is going to take place this weekend and all future plant pots purchased will be terracotta or stone.
Food shopping will be a challenge but if I can buy an equivalent item in a glass bottle or a tin I will choose that item over a plastic container. Meat will have to be purchased from the butcher where he wraps things in waxed paper rather than the supermarket preference for styrofoam trays and plastic wrap. Ditto cheese, the cheese man on the market wraps the cheese in waxed paper. Although arguably if I recycle the plastic (and I always do) I shouldn't worry.. or should I? I know that not all plastic can be recycled and alot of what we put into the recycling bins ends up in landfill anyway. But, I don't want to defeat myself before I've even begun. We will do what we can with what we have.
In reality the food issue is going to be the hardest. Food shopping will take longer and require visits to different locations (butcher, weekly market, supermarket), changes in eating habits will take a bit of getting used to (less bottled drinks, less foreign cheeses, probably less of a lot of things, certainly less variety). Although we cook most things from scratch already I do envisage meals requiring more forward planning and more time.
These aims tie in with my existing goal of one day having a hand made wardrobe and the limitations put on a food shop which contains less plastic will result in, as far as I can tell, a healthier diet. All this is good. It's certainly worth a try. And if I can achieve even half of this I would consider it a success.. well maybe on the road to success.