I've got 5 tips on how you can reduce your plastic immediately, but they're at the end of this post! Feel free to scroll right down and get to the action points!
It's also my 3rd weekend of the plastic free month, and it's been a week and a half since I last blogged- mostly because I haven't had a tremendous amount to say!
I know that sounds bizarre- when I was prepping for the month I felt like the choice to avoid plastic was going to become quite all encompassing. Don't get me wrong- it's been quite a journey with a lot of changes to make but 90% of them were in that first week! Since then it's been pretty business as usual- it's just that 'usual' looks a bit different to how it used to!
Day to day I've found my groove- my water bottle, reuseable cup, knife fork and spoon are with me almost all the time, as are a couple of reuseable bags that fold up tiny (I have 2 IKEA ones I got in my stocking a few years ago) and a tupperware in the car. I've learned the fun way that one of my reuseable cups doesn't hold enough for a 'regular' costa/starbucks machine in a petrol station (cue a coffee flood) so that cup's become the back-up choice!
Food-wise, my habits have also 'stabilised' into a reasonable routine- the veg box comes fortnightly on Thursdays, the fruit and veg shop or the Mediterranean store fill in any produce gaps. Meat (on the one occasion I ate it) came in my own tupperware from the butcher, and Tom made my day by arriving a week ago with a whole black bomber cheese in wax. I'm finding food shopping for day-to-day 'sustenance' (veggies, pulses etc) much easier than when I decide there's a specific recipe I want to make. It took 3 shops for me to get everything I needed to cook a girlie brunch last weekend, and when we made dumplings earlier in the week, some of the ingredients were nigh on impossible to find (dumpling wrappers?!). This is one of the elements that I'd be glad to see the back of in November as I do really love to cook a couple of recipes a week! Eggs butter flour and sugar are all fine so there's been plenty of baking!
|brunch ingredients courtesy of the milkman, the butcher, the greengrocer and Tesco!|
|homemade coleslaw is becoming a lunch staple|
|First request for the butcher to use a tupperware. He couldn't have cared less!|
|I have a new found appreciation for my local greengrocer. (I use my own bags)|
|this mix made 60 biscuits so I've frozen them in batches|
|homemade yoghurt step 1|
|homemade yoghurt step 2|
|straining the yoghurt to make it thicker and more 'greek yoghurt' style.|
It's also been nice seeing how much I can get in 'normal' shops- tins of pulses and veg (haven't opened a plastic-lined one yet), paper-wrapped chocolate as a treat (I love the Divine chocolate caramel bar) and the occasional bottle of IPA/ gin and fevertree tonic.
|Pyjamas and chocolate: plastic free bliss!|
From a beauty-routine point of view, I finally ditched my super blunt, last plastic disposable razor and switched to a safety razor. It was scary and I may have googled for about half an hour before finally attempting to shave my legs in the bath! 8 cuts on my ankles later and I think I've cracked my technique- changing the blades regularly is definitely a key element of that! Now to work out how to safely recycle the used, blunt blades! I'm going to get to the end of the weird, 1950s-esque stinky man-smell shaving stick that came with my blades and then swap to this from Southsea Bathing Hut. They were at the Stansted House Christmas fair today and have a whole lot of plastic free goodies that I'm excited to try out as time goes on.
The fly in the ointment this week was definitely a work trip to Nottingham. It was my first trip away from home without my car, and I was gone for 3 days. I had to really think about packing carefully- having necessities but not loading myself like a pack horse! I ended up taking my lunchbox, plastic (I know... but I did already own it!) reuseable coffee cup, and my water bottle. Nonetheless, it was tough going. Firstly- there's nowhere to fill waterbottles. I don't know if WH Smiths etc are paying train stations to keep hot-taps only in toilets but I had to ration my 1l bottle from Nottingham to Southsea. In the end I gave up and drank G&T in a tin (not complaining!) but obviously that's not a solution to the wider problem. Similarly, I'd brought hummus and veg sticks for the trip up, and we were fed well at the hotel, but for the journey back, other than McDonalds (without straw, lids, or sauces) fruit or chocolate wrapped in foil, there was very little to eat at the station. Hats off to Pumpkin cafe for selling their cakes etc in paper bags, they kept me going! However- there's little to no segregated recycling in stations so it's either send the paper bag to landfill or bring it back home and recycle it! Combine that with all biscuits at the conference being individually plastic wrapped and by Thursday we were dealing with a very tired and over-thought Sarah! I was glad to be back home and back into my own routine.
The biggest thing I'm realising from this month is how much convenience feeds into our reliance on plastic. Whilst I can easily bring my coffee cup/water bottle (it's just a matter of new habits)- reducing my reliance on prepacked sandwiches, salads or snacks has been much harder whilst working a full-time job. I've ended up 'eating in' in super market cafes on a few occasions just to avoid the plastic packaging for lunch options in the chiller- but the best option is definitely making a pack up- I just need to stay organised now the 'grab a sandwich' opt-out is no longer an option.
Similarly I was gutted at the Stansted Christmas Fayre today at how many of the food carts used plastic or polystyrene packaging/cutlery rather than cardboard or something biodegradable. I still haven't found the courage to give them my own tupperware and ask them to fill it so Lucy and I bailed and went to the cafe instead! It was delicious and no packaging in sight.
Plastic that has snuck in this week has been:
- 2 straws- I keep forgetting that in pubs I have to say 'no straw' or they'll give me one automatically! It's really frustrating as straws are a)mostly useless unless you're infirm, elderly or incapable of reapplying your lipstick, and b)a HUGE contributor to ocean plastic fields.
- Meds: I had already left my prescription medication out due to medical need but I went down with a horrid cold in Nottingham and had to buy cold and flu rememdy and a box of tissues that had a plastic seal. Again not having the car or many options meant I had to take the tissues available to me!
I'm realising that the chances are a lot of the changes I've made for November are likely to be sticking around once this month is up. Additionally, I'd been having tummy problems for a few months (since July/August time) and because I've had to cut out pretty much all processed food, my stomach has been great all month! I've had wheat, sugar, chocolate, alcohol but everything has been cooked from scratch and it seems to be agreeing with me! Happy days.
Coming up in the next week:
- I need to buy more cheese- time to brave the supermarket and try and get them to fill my tupperware. Cheese and Cheers on Osborne Road have been lovely but they are not cheap.
- Bokashi bin #1 is full and ready to go ferment for a fortnight. I need to work out where I'll put it and get started on #2.
- I'm running out of washing up liquid and my attempt at soap nuts as laundry detergent has been a funky-smelling, stinky, abject disaster. I'm going to try splosh this week and see how their products go!
Here are my 5 ways to start reducing plastic consumption today! Feel free to share this graphic:
As ever- thanks for lovely messages, articles shared with me and support across social media! You guys rock and are keeping me focussed as we pass the half way mark of this mad challenge!