Hayley Matthews: A Scottish diet can be healthy – I lost a stone

Plastic straws are bad for the environment. Picture: Michael Gillen
Plastic straws are bad for the environment. Picture: Michael Gillen
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I really want to shout out to all dog owners to not leave dogs in cars, especially in this weather. However, I’ve said it before and I’m hoping that in 25-plus degrees common sense will prevail. So instead, I’m going to talk about going plastic free and supporting local shops.

I’ve been challenged by BBC Scotland to give up single-use plastic and also all imports. The issue that has hit me the most has definitely been single-use plastic, but realising the power of shopping local (saying no to imports) comes a close second. I’ll start with plastic because there is so much we can do. Now I’m no saint – you’ll sometimes spot me with a bottle of fizzy juice on occasion – but I always recycle it. However, little steps can really change things.

Just last week my son and I were up town, walking along Princes Street when he spotted a plastic bag floating along, similar to the scene in the movie Vanilla Sky. I didn’t even need to say, he picked it up, and put it in a bin. A passing monk smiled and gave us the thumbs up which made my day. Not sure if she was a Buddhist monk but her approval left me feeling that my constant preaching of how we’re destroying the planet is all worthwhile. It’s not just plastic bags – cotton buds and straws also seem to be huge problems. I’m keen to get one of the straws that’s reusable and fits on a keyring and have been sourcing non-plastic cotton buds from www.boobalou.co.uk, which also sells plastic-free tape (just be prepared for questions at the post office). They offer a lot of alternatives to the plastic items we so blissfully disregard every day. But there’s definitely been a shift. During the week, I stopped for a coke and chips in the Lioness of Leith and noticed a sign saying “Say no to the straws”. It’s great to see but we still have a long way to go.

READ MORE: Hayley Matthews: This is what happens to a dog in a hot car

Single-use plastic can be hard to avoid, but it was also very tough shopping for local produce only in April. My diet consisted of carrots from Moray, oatcakes from Niddrie and Scottish tomatoes. I lost a stone (which is always a plus) and have had my eyes opened to the produce that we have available to us in this country that we didn’t necessarily realise. It’s gotten easier though the closer we’ve gotten to summer, with asparagus and strawberries filling the shelves, I’ve been filling out again. However, I’ve certainly found it easier to find UK-made beauty products and home items like Scottish Shearer candles, than I have finding Scottish chicken and local cooking oils.

Regardless of how we support Scottish and UK products, it all helps lessen the carbon footprint. Just today on the news I heard reports that our children’s generation will be picking up the bill for our carelessness and disregard of global warming and that good old saying “we don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” was ringing in my ears. Again though, I have to admit I’m seeing small changes and when visiting small independent shops like Cove in Portobello, it was lovely to see wooden (not plastic) toys and lots of UK and Scottish-made products like Lucky Cloud Skincare (which is cruelty-free) with a huge stand displaying UK products.

We have so many talented businesses in this country and should really be doing all we can to support them. Ok, you might spend a few more pennies but what you get is the peace of mind that you’re doing your little bit to make the Earth that bit more pleasant for your children, and that is surely priceless.

READ MORE: Hayley Matthews: The mess at Porty beach shows how little we care for planet