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Small Ways to Make a Big Impact

Written by Olly Halton

I think we can all agree that love can sometimes drive us to do drastic or unexpected things. Some we may look back on fondly, and others may cause us to convulse with embarrassment at how blinded we were by our feelings. Around three years ago, when I was in the midst of a huge crush on one of my uni friends (which hasn’t budged an inch at the time of writing), I did something that arguably led me to do both of those in the time since. I started buying bamboo toothbrushes, and yes, at first it was mainly to impress her.

She’s considerate in so many ways, including in terms of what she consumes and how she consumes it. As it is for so many of us in this day and age, single-use plastic was an area of great concern to her, and if you think about it, there are few everyday objects we throw away quite as often as toothbrushes. Nearly all are made almost entirely of plastic, and as soon as they’ve served their purpose we throw them carelessly away, to face a destiny that is pretty much certain to be detrimental to the environment.

With that in mind, one of the many brilliant changes my friend made was to swap her plastic brush for a much better bamboo equivalent - even the bristles had been made organically. When I heard about what she’d done, I instantly saw an opportunity to make a change of my own. I was still making my way through plastic brush after plastic brush at an alarming rate, and felt very ignorant of the world around me in comparison to her. Sure, part of me hoped that this new solution would secure me the date I’d always dreamed about, but beyond that, I really did feel the need to grow and learn about the effect I was having on my surroundings. She’s always been good at inspiring me to do better, be better. It’s one of the many reasons I love her, and it was ultimately what drove me into Superdrug and onto the bamboo bandwagon.

Admittedly, my time on it didn’t last long. The brushes were a little on the pricey side, and I was perhaps a little too forceful with them, so I soon found that I was replacing them almost as often as those I’d used before. There was, however, no question that they’d opened my eyes to a better way of living. I can’t say I was perfect from that day forward - I don’t think any of us can - but it definitely marked a turning point. This mostly presented itself in small, manageable forms. For example, when I went down to eat in the food hall, I’d choose meat-free options as often as I could, and every piece of packaging I disposed of would be painstakingly scrutinised to ensure that it went in the correct recycling bin. You know your attitudes are shifting when a Coke can carelessly thrown into the litter induces a twinge of guilt.

Ultimately, though, that guilt is a good thing, because it means I care, and I don’t need the hopeless pursuit of a girl to inspire me anymore. I suppose, at the end of the day, I should be thankful for the whole sorry mess. Romance might not have blossomed as a consequence of my purchases, but a whole new mindset did - and unlike a relationship, that’s something much harder to break up. Long may it continue!

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