I thought I would give a brief update as to how I’m getting on, in conjunction with the start of Plastic Free July.
For those who haven’t come across the campaign before, Plastic Free July encourages people to pledge to reduce their plastic consumption, over the course of the month. The website says:
Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.
It sounds easy enough, right?
So how have I been doing at reducing the amount of plastic my family consumes in general? And where do I need to improve?
I think the best way of doing this is looking at products that I was either having to drive great distances to purchase plastic-free (i.e. milk) and products I was still buying in plastic. For ease of reading, I’ll neglect to copy over my notes from the original post, but I’ve linked it above in case you’d like to compare.
Milk – My local butcher has started selling this in returnable glass bottles. This means that I no longer have to drive to the dairy, and can combine the travel with my trip to the refillery. So much win!
Double cream – I can also buy this from my butcher. Like the milk, it’s comes in returnable pint bottles.
Muesli – I’m still buying this, but we’ve made progress in the fact that this no longer has to be from Aldi/Lidl. I’m going to be brave and attempt to make my own over the course of July… I’ll let you know how we get on!
Greek Style Yogurt – I think – for the sake of the challenge – that I’m just going to cut this out of my diet. I’ve reached a point where I don’t want to make excuses for my consumption of store-bought yogurt any more – unlike the butcher’s milk and cream, I can’t account for how the dairy cattle producing this are treated, and I can’t justify the plastic so… yeah… bye-bye yogurt. Sad times.
Scottish Baby Potatoes – I’ve been buying my potatoes in bulk from the butcher since I last posted. They come in large, paper sacks with recyclable plastic handles. I figured this was better than the non-recyclable bags.
Salted Butter – I’m still buying this. I will keep buying this. I have reduced my consumption of it, though, by using a 50/50 combination of oil/milk in cakes, and by using oil in pastry. It really is just a topping for bread now, and an ingedient in cookies.
Stockan’s Oatcakes – I’m still buying these, though not as often as I used to since the schools closed to pupils. For the sake of the challenge, I’m going to try making them – though it’s important to note that the oatmeal comes in a plastic bag too…
Fresh corriander – We’re now growing our own.
Tesco value toothpaste – This is still the toothpaste of choice so I won’t be changing any time soon – challenge or not.
Curry powder – Now that the refillery stocks herbs and spices, I’m sorted!
Asprin tablets – I haven’t actually bought any since the previous post. Hooray! Unless things go horribly wrong, I should have enough to see me through July.
Leaf tea – I’m still buying the same leaf tea, but I’ve started drinking more coffee (made from freshly ground beans – not instant, or a pod – purchased from an independant shop). This is great for two reasons – firstly, less coffee keeps me more awake than more tea so I’m boiling the kettle less. Secondly, I like my coffee black, so I’m using waaay less milk than if I was drinking the equivalent amount of tea that is necessary for consiousness. I’m also drinking fresh mint tea after dinner, so the amount of tea I’m getting through has reduced dramatically.
It’s so easy to think that we’ve reached a plateau when it comes to shopping with less packaging, but even finding ways to swap out one item every week – or even every fortnight – will eventually result in a largely plastic-free shop. And that’s an incredibly empowering thing. We don’t have to accept the shrink-wrapped status quo. By remembering that if we can’t refuse to buy an item, we can reduce the quantity we purchase, we stand to make environmental gains. To quote the amazing Zero Waste Chef;
We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.
Throughout the month, I’m going to keep hold of any plastic waste we do generate, in order to talk about it once we’re finished. I’m going to speak about whether foregoing things like yogurt had a negative impact on my quality of life. I sincerely doubt it will.
What are your most recent sustainable swaps? Are you taking part in Plastic Free July? I would love to hear how you’re getting on. Contact me either here, or on Twitter.