Kiri and


Bye bye plastic?

February 24th, 2013 (by Steve)

Could you live without buying anything in plastic for a week? How about a fortnight? A month? The whole of Lent? Well, we’ve decided to take on the challenge, as we’ve realised that although we are able to recycle the vast majority of our waste, plastic makes up the biggest proportion of the stuff we’re unable to recycle.


So, where do we start? Well, the picture above shows where we’ve “failed” in the first couple of weeks. Technically we only started last Monday as we were on holiday until then. Our first challenge was stocking up a totally empty fridge at 6pm on a Monday! With no chance to go to a farmer’s market or grocer, Sainsbury’s was the only real option. Here are the challenges we faced:

  • Vegetables – we were mostly able to get “loose” veg, but it meant we missed out on a lot of Sainsbury’s basics stuff. We had to compromise with the loose peppers, aubergines and satsumas that all had barcoded plastic stickers on them and we were disappointed to find that the only cabbage available without any plastic was a plain white cabbage
  • Meat – it’s not that surprising that we were unable to find any fresh meat without plastic wrapping, so we decided to forgo meat completely as part of this shop (and we didn’t fancy Spam really) – instead we stocked up with plenty of tins of pulses and a couple of tuna to be our meat substitutes
  • Cheese – we crumbled. We do like our cheese. To buy cheese with no plastic would have required spending twice as much, so we decided to make an exception – once we’ve eaten the cheese, the wrapper will duly be added to the pile shown above
  • Milk – would you believe it – the only milk we could find in a tetrapak carton (yes, we know it contains polyethylene in small quantities…but at least it’s recyclable) without any trace of a plastic spout was UHT. Guess what type of milk we’re on for the next few weeks!
  • Bread – none of the bread or pitta in the supermarket came in a paper bag, so for this week we’ve used up what we have in the freezer and from now on we’ll be making our own bread (or going to a baker’s where they sell it in paper bags)
  • Carrier bags – this is such a schoolboy/schoolgirl error of which we’re very embarrassed and ashamed. Normally when we go shopping we take rucksacks to carry our stuff in and we collect Nectar points for bag re-use. Having just come back from holiday we kind of forgot, so we’ll hang our heads slightly, but at least we will re-use the ones that we were given on Monday

Since that shopping trip last Monday, we’ve bought a greetings card which had a clear plastic film (unnecessarily we think) and when we bought chips (and a pickled egg…for the first and last time!) from the chippy around the corner, they gave it to us in a plastic bag. Aside from that, we’re “clean”.

We’ll continue to update this blog with details of our plastic usage over the course of Lent, along with any challenges we’ve faced and good tips that we pick up for avoiding plastic usage! To be honest though, it can only get harder from now – to start with we can use up stuff we’ve got in the cupboards, but once we run out it’s going to start making a bigger impact on our lives.

2 Responses

Aaand this is why I always liked the idea of milk deliveries. Glass bottles, taken away and recycled for you. It’s interesting how an experiment like this doesn’t just force you to reconsider what you buy, but where you buy it from as well. Local butchers, delicatessens, bakers; all more likely to sell you things in non-plastic packaging, but you pay a premium for the product. The price of centralised consumerism, eh?

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there Graham – plastic is the result of the convenience society we live in today. This is really making us aware of how ubiquitous it is in our lives

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