Jack, 30 years old from Glasgow was so inspired about the plastic problem he’s now founded Glasgow Over Plastic! Society Zero spoke to the co-founder of Glasgow Over Plastic.
Jack has always been a ‘conscious consumer’ as he puts it, but it’s in the past 5 years that he’s decided to completely change his life by adding new habits that have not only benefited himself, but the environment also. It was great to interview him and hear what he had to say about his journey moving towards zero waste in Glasgow after volunteering with their ‘Clean the Clyde’ litter pick event.
A little while ago, we got to ask him a few questions about his journey to living with less plastic in his life and more zero waste.
Jack, thank you so much for interviewing with us, it’s been great to follow Glasgow Over Plastic and about what you’re getting up to. Meeting at the Clean the Clyde event was so inspiring too to see how many more people are moving towards zero waste. Can you tell me what zero waste is to you?
Going on the journey towards zero waste is about choice.
Choosing a different lifestyle. Choosing a fresh, healthy local diet. Choosing to spend time volunteering rather than shopping. Choosing to value the important things in life. Choosing to de-clutter and slow down your life. Choosing to take back control from the brainwashing advertising industry. Choosing to reconnect with and respect nature and our planet. Choosing charity shops over chain shops.
For me, its a pretty good choice to make.
And of course, we wholeheartedly agree! When did you start making changes to reduce plastic use to get to the stage you’re at today?
I have always been a ‘conscious’ consumer – however it has only been in the past five years that I have begun to systematically eradicate [plastic] from my life. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a full zero waster yet. I still have my vices. But I am getting there and every time I eradicate waste from my life I rejoice!
My current focus, for the past 18 months, has been on figuring out how to easily live plastic free. I have managed to reduce my plastic consumption by 85% – and as such I have written a book about my journey and founded Glasgow Over Plastic – a social enterprise aiming to inspire a plastic free revolution.
You’ve done so well with it so far as well and we’re so happy to see so many get excited about it and get involved. So, in the past five years you’ve been working towards this change, and in the past eighteen months you’ve decided to ramp it up but was there a moment or thing actually spurred you to make the change and begin your new lifestyle?
Yes. I grew up on a coastal hill farm in Scotland and I spent a lot of my time as a child exploring a remote beautiful rocky beach surrounded by high cliffs and pristine forest. However, after 20 years, I returned to this beach – and I was shocked.
Within a 100m stretch I found over a hundred plastic items ranging from a half full ketchup bottle, engine oil containers, shipping rope, ear buds, plastic bottles, plastic children’s toys. The amount of waste – particularly plastic – was hard for me to compute. The pristine beach that I explored as a child was gone. Waste had encroached on one of the most special places in my life.
I had to take action.
So has been living your life without plastics, or as much as you can been easier than you thought or has it been a difficult journey?
I would be lying if I said it was easy. But, it is like anything in life – it is a skill and it takes time to change your habits and adjust. The important thing is to not beat yourself up if you slip up. Embrace it – laugh about it, then think how can I find a better way? In the tortoise and the hare race – think of yourself more as the tortoise than the hair – a fast tortoise though!
I am fairly systematic about my approach – I focus on one particular habit I need to change at a time for a few weeks until I have it locked down as a habit [and] then move on to the next challenge. Having a waste free diet was and is by far the most challenging aspect of a zero waste life.
It’s certainly a learning curve! New habits is a good way of putting it though. Do you think these new habits have had an effect on your wallet in a detrimental way?
The complete opposite! I have saved hundreds, if not thousands of pounds by simply not buying useless crap that I simply do not need nor truly value.
Whether it is through buying as much as I can second hand and from charity shops or having my stuff repaired instead of buying new there are so many ways to save money going zero waste.
Woohoo! That’s great to hear, there are always so many hidden gems in charity shops! What were the easiest changes to make when you first began?
The easiest were my hygiene habits – such as buying all my dry soap, shampoo and toothbrush packaging free or using a water/vinegar solution to clean my bathroom.
I’d recommend you start there!
What changes were the most difficult or maybe still are?
[My] Diet – Locating all the shops that sell food packaging takes time.
Although once you have figured it out – it does’t take you any more time than usual shopping. I have a open source google maps where I note down all the waste free shops.
Also the launch of waste free shops, makes my life much easier. I have a very busy lifestyle and so it is sometimes challenging to set aside the time every day to cook from scratch using zero waste food products. But I am much healthier for it!
When times get tough and you really want to give in, what keeps you going and moving forward in the fight against plastic use?
There are many drivers that inspire me. Humanity is approaching desperate times. The catastrophic impact of climate change is on the horizon. We have lost more than half of all species on the planet through human actions, for example – Global tree cover loss rose 51 percent in 2016 and there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.
We cannot and must not fail our children and their children. More importantly, we cannot fail all life on earth.
We must act and we must act now.
So true, and we hope more people take heed of the message! So you’re a founder of your own fellow social enterprise now! Tell us more
Yes! I founded Glasgow Over Plastic – a youth led movement which aims to inspire a plastic free revolution through creating engaging educational resources and campaigns in partnership with local individuals, communities, businesses and politicians and make Glasgow the first plastic free city.
We undertake a series of projects to stimulate systemic change including signing businesses up to our single use plastic free promise, running mass clean up events, building provocative public art installations, running educational workshops to schools and many more.
Anyone is welcome to join our growing team and become a plastic free pioneer
We’re so excited to see the changes you’re making and for the changes you will make, and we fully support every effort! So what personal benefits have you found from living a more zero waste lifestyle?
I have freed up my time to do activities that bring me genuine joy and fulfilment such as spending time with friends and family, volunteering on a cause [Glasgow Over Plastic] that I am passionate about, cooking (especially making fresh sourdough!), learning new skills and spending more time in nature!
There are so many new skills people are learning on this kind of journey and it’s so inspiring to see, hear and read all about it! On a final note, what would your final advice be to anyone beginning their life more zero waste?
Just go for it.
Don’t be afraid to screw up. Reach out to others for support – there is a whole bunch of us out there just waiting to share ideas and tips!
There definitely is! We’d like to thank Jack for taking his time to talk to us about his plastic free and zero waste journey.
If you’d like to follow Glasgow Over Plastic and get involved in their events, volunteer with them and fight the war on plastic in Glasgow join them here www.glasgowoverplastic.org They were recently highlighted in The Scotsman too.
If you’d like to join the team of Glasgow Over Plastics – just go to www.glasgowoverplastic.org
Would you like to join our interviewee board of zero waste heroes?
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