June 2017, the start of the Marine Conservation Society's Plastic Challenge. We took part last year too and am all too familiar with the challenges of giving up single use plastics.
I've decided to update one post a week as a kind of diary of how we are getting on. It will include the wins and the fails.
This will be our Week 1 Post.
Day 1 is a fairly easy day. As a family of 6 (2 adults, 4 children), naturally, we have supplies that we can use before we need to shop some more and there is little point wasting items. However, going forward with a challenge of buying less plastic and definitely avoiding single use plastic items will become increasingly difficult as we progress through the month.
Today, I identified a local shop that sells cucumbers without any shrink wrap plastic - a big win because almost always cucumbers are normally packaged in plastic which personally I find ridiculous.
I also worked my muscles carrying a massive Water Melon home which will last several days if not more in the fridge and serve as a healthy refreshing snack during these warmer days.
Husband baked bread using flour from a paper packet and yeast from a cardboard packet with what I hope was foil packaging.
Of course we use our own Natural Deodorant products so no plastic there and I have my bamboo toothbrush which is working out perfectly well. I know that difficulties will arise tomorrow as shampoo needs replenshing and I'm not happy with the shampoo bar that we have. I'll let you know how and if I resolve the problem.
Another day and no plastic purchased. Loose courgettes, peaches, bananas sourced locally and a block of butter which I assume is paper wrapped, made up the purchases today.
A breakfast of eggs (from cardboard egg tray) and toasted home made bread was an easy one. If I ate this breakfast every day as a staple it wouldn't be so bad. However, my Good Hemp milk comes in Tetra Pak and my understanding is that Tetra Pak whilst recyclable isn't fully free from plastic so when this carton runs out I will need to revert to black tea, herbal tea or water.
Lunch & Dinner still using up existing foods in the fridge/cupboards including nibbling on raw broadbeans that had been grown locally and gifted to us so no issues there. However, half a tub of hummus needing to be finished in a pot so again hummus is going to be off the menu, unless I make my own *sigh*.
Our Reusable Stainless Steel Bottles were used today whilst out with the children and at the gym but this is not something new for us so can't really big that one up!
Haven't solved the shampoo issue yet so it will be a wash hair in just water until tomorrow.
Went in search of plastic free bread. Waitrose came up trumps as they have loose loaves that you can place in paper bags with windows so we just took the bread without any packaging. Did the same for some loose Veg too - placed straight in our basket. It was ok except for the cabbage which was supposed to be in a plastic wrap and needed the barcode. So we scanned one with a barcode and left the packaging for waitrose to deal with. They provided paper bags for mushrooms so another win. A glass bottle of cordial for the children to drink instead of Tetra Pak juice in the morning. Simply a convenience if I can't always be bothered to use the Nutri Bullet.
A dedicated trip to the local Lush Shop coping with the overpowering smells that come as standard with the colourful shop, we found a shampoo bar that we hope may work better than those we have tried already. It does contain SLS but it is free from plastic free packaging. Lush have this to say about SLS https://uk.lush.com/article/dont-stress-about-sls.
I'd say this day was a fail. We had a large BBQ event to attend which just added too much pressure. Not to make excuses, but as a mother of 4 children its not as easy to go without the plastic options as it would be if it were just me. The BBQ food was all presented to us free of packaging but there were disposable cups available for soft drinks which the children wanted to enjoy. If I had prepared better then I would have had reusable cups in the car but just didn't think properly. Our regular reusable stainless steel bottles were of course with us and I only drank from those. Another fail was purchasing some fruit options and other snack items to take with us for the day. This was all down to lack of time, too much to think about and simply needing convenience to keep the happy energy going. Mental wellbeing is incredibly important too.
On the positive side of things, the Lush Shampoo Bar works really well. I can't see any reason other than wanting to avoid the SLS to purchase an item in a plastic bottle when this little bar does the job.
Still making bread to avoid plastic wrapped options.
Ran out of dishwasher tablets but found powdered dishwasher detergent in a cardboard box in Waitrose. It's a win for plasticfree but will have to check more closely on its ingredients being environmentally friendly. There always seems to be a trade off.
A quick shop to Morrisons secured loose ingredients for a vegetable sauce for pasta plus a stock up on tins. Couldn't buy bread, was all in some kind of wrapping which assume is plastic?
One loaf of bread and 6 rolls from Waitrose with no packaging because I put them straight into my basket cost £5.05. A different choice wrapped in plastic would have cost around £2. There is a financial cost increase for certain plastic free options and this isn't easily affordable for many. It's not something we can maintain as a family going forward so there needs to be a different way unless the manufacturers and brands of sliced options package them differently. Also, lets not forget that we are making our own bread in between times too which is obviously nicer than sliced options heavily laden no doubt with preservatives and additives but the time element has to be considered.
The burger options & fishfingers are all packaged in cardboard with no inner so an easy win but otherwise it was a few veggies purchased from a local greengrocer but I was unable to source salad leaves or lettuce anywhere.
Dinner tonight is going to be a combination of the items in the picture below.
Last day of week 1. Fact is, add extra events into the day, that make a day unusual busier than usual then you don't need the added stress of Plastic Challenge! Today was one of those days and convenience was needed. The best I could do without buying plastic was Chicken Pies from Waitrose!
The Ryvita is in foil packaging apparently so that's ok. The bread cost a small fortune but simply not enough time in my day to make our own.
Honestly speaking, I actually feel that as a family we do quite a lot when it comes to choosing ecofriendly reusable options already but if we are to keep up next week, I am going to have to be more creative and probably something else in our lives will have to give way to cope with the extra workload.