By Cora Hilts
Originally from the Maine countryside, Cora spent five years in Paris and New York City intermittently working in luxury fashion and studying Politics before ending up in London.
We Need to Talk About Plastic. And It’s Not Pretty.
Anyone who is also based in Britain will likely empathize with me on this – I have been really struggling to watch David Attenborough’s amazing BBC series Planet Blue, the most amazing and beautiful documentation of what is happening in our seas. For all of you abroad, this is a documentary that unveils the incredible creatures, habits, and views that our seas have to offer. My reticence to watch it is simply because it is too devastating to consider the nearly irrevocable damage we are doing to the world’s ocean’s every day. Whilst there are a few culprits here, one of the absolute biggest is our dependence upon plastic, and we really feel the need to highlight that reliance here at Rêve En Vert as we aim to combat its use within the fashion industry. We wanted to share both our personal and professional goals to hopefully rid our world of this increasingly dangerous material.
Plastic has been named a miracle substance by many – it has made our lives easier in many ways and oftentimes now we can’t possibly imagine how we could get through a day without it. It holds our purchases, protects our food, bottles our water. In terms of fashion, it is used in so many fabrics we love including faux fur, polyester, nylon – the list goes on and on. How can something so intrinsic to our way of life be so bad?
But it is. SO bad. Plastic is a long-lasting material, it will take at least 700 years to break down entirely. This means that every piece of plastic that was ever produced still exists in the world. We are becoming better at recycling plastic, but we still are not great. For instance, over 15 million plastic bottles are used here in Great Britain every day, but only around 2.5% of European plastic bottles are recycled. These sort of frightening statistics go on and on but they are almost too big to comprehend. And where does all this plastic that isn’t recycled end up? Mainly in our seas and here lies the big problem.
Plastic bags, bottles, and the other refuse that end up in the ocean kill around 1 million sea creatures every year. The other bits begin to break down into plastic micro-particles that are literally fillings our oceans to the brink. The health of our oceans directly affects us – as the sea becomes choked with plastic, so do the fish we eat. It is now likely that we are ingesting microparticles of plastic every time we eat fish as they are so prevalent in the waters that fish consume. This “healthy” food is no longer what it once was and that will only get worse as we continue to dump our one-use plastic bags thoughtlessly into the trash. It is estimated that by 2048, all of the fish in the sea will be entirely contaminated with plastic particles. This means no more pure fish in our lifetimes. Not to mention the destruction of other sea species that will be choking on plastic, unable to reproduce and who’s extinction will entirely break down our precious and precarious eco-systems.
We don’t want this to be all doom and gloom. Part of our upcoming campaign “What Will Our Kids Think” is to launch the discussion of changing consumer choices today in order to leave a world to our kids that isn’t a dark place to be. We wanted to kick it off this conversation with this issue of plastic and it extends far beyond fashion and into our everyday purchases. There is just one solution to the plastic epidemic – we MUST stop using it.
So how do you do this? Below are our top tips for personal habit changes, but also please be assured that at Rêve En Vert we are combatting the problem in fashion. In our recent line REV, there was no plastic packaging but only recycled tissue paper used for transport. We are phasing out any of our organic beauty lines that use plastic bottles. With our activewear, we are trying to replace any nylon, spandex or other types of polyester that will pollute the waterways when they are washed as all the materials are simply fabric forms of plastic. Also within the Rêve En Vert office, we are going zero waste in terms of only refilling our cleaning bottles, having glass water bottles and reusable coffee cups as examples of how we are leading this effort behind the scenes.
-Always say no to straws. These horrid little creations have become trendy in the worst way. The United States alone consumes 500 million of them EVERY YEAR. For one use, they end up in the oceans, end up in animals, and end up in our piles of landfill. Simply ask when you order a drink that it doesn’t come with a straw. It’s actually a great conversation starter and you really don’t need it.
-Avoid plastic bags at all costs. We get plastic bags for things already packaged – for instance I was at Argos last weekend and I bought something in a very secure, carry-size box and they asked me if I wanted an ill-fitting plastic bag to put it into. This is the epitome of useless waste! Just be aware, you will be asked all the time if you would like a bag and you just have to say no.
-Finally, you probably can and should attempt zero waste but don’t let it drive you crazy. Baby steps and small changes! I am trying this out now and it’s HARD to be perfect with it. But what it has illuminated is all the plastic in my life I never thought of –my deodorant, toothbrush, organic shampoo bottles (irony there) and wrapped around my rice, pulses, flours, and sugars. The amazing thing is there is starting to be zero waste stores and options at places like Whole Foods. It just needs a bit of preparation and foresight. Check out Trash is for Tossers and Zero Waste Bea for inspiration.
-Never take plastic cutlery for your lunch, always keep permanent forks, knives, etc. at your desk so if you come back they are there waiting for you! You can also get a nice cloth napkin to add a little elegance to lunch at your desk and reduce paper needs!