Loren pledges to get plastic out of her life

EVEN with a background in zoology and environmental science, Loren Howell, 33, was still unaware of some of the effects plastic has on the environment until she attended a talk at the Canberra Environment Centre last year.

It was there she learnt “shocking statistics” such as that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish and eight million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean each year.

“I have a generally good understanding and even I wasn’t aware of the plastic waste I was producing,” she says.

The facts forced Loren to look at her own contribution and she came to the conclusion that she would give plastic up.

It’s now been 18 months since she’s been plastic-free, which is around the same time Loren and her partner moved to Canberra.

Since then they’ve settled into their Kingston home and Loren has actively made a presence in the local environmental scene.

“It’s like global warming, you can’t instantly see the results. It is convenient and it is what plastic was designed to be,” she says.

“When deciding to go plastic-free it can be a very overwhelming process.

“You look around the home and there’s plastic on your food and if you look a little further it’s in cosmetics and in your synthetic clothes.”

Loren says when the plastic microfibres that are hidden in clothes are put in the washing machine, they end up in oceans for fish to eat and then humans eat the fish, making it a “vicious cycle”.

But she says there are ways to avoid this cycle by becoming conscious of what is safe to buy, such as natural fibres.

Loren now works from a waste hierarchy, which consists of avoid, reduce, reuse, recycle and then compost.

“I certainly didn’t run around the house and throw all the plastics out, that would defeat the whole purpose,” she says.

Her first step was to stop using or gathering plastic bags, plastic straws, takeaway coffee cups and plastic bottles.

“Basic steps make a huge difference and then I basically use all the plastic that’s in my house and don’t bring anymore home,” she says.

Even though it seems like a restrictive lifestyle, Loren says it’s not and she has even found alternative options of buying take-out without the guilt of the convenient plastic associated with it.

Now, Loren and her partner call in advance and let the restaurant know they’re bringing their own containers, which she says is odd at first but then they don’t mind.

The biggest struggle that Loren has run into so far is with her contact lenses, which can’t always be recycled and says her next step will be laser.

“Milk is a bit of a struggle as well because even if you buy cartoned milk it’s the same as coffee cups (which are lined with plastic),” she says.

“I’ve been in contact with local producers to see if they’ll be interested in using glass milk bottles.”

Loren has even started her own eco-label to provide other people with  affordable, plastic-free products.

“I started with the beeswax wrap and before I knew it I had started my own eco label,” she says.

It’s called Yangoora Close and was named after a childhood street where Loren grew up.

“It’s that feeling of being close to home or close to the environment,” she says.

It’s also an indigenous word for string back tree, which ties in nicely with the leaf patterns on some of the products.

It has got to the point where Loren can use the funds for her own campaigns, such as hosting a movie screening on the topic of plastic in the future.

Visit Yangoora Close at yangooraclose.com

Loren will be hosting a screening of “Plastic Oceans” at Balanced Yoga Studios, Kingston, at 1pm, August 13. Information via yangooraclose.com


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