As I posted about last week, I've been trying to go plastic free in January as part of an action with #plasticfreealice. The transition was messy and not very pretty, but over the past couple of weeks I have started to properly get into the swing of avoiding plastic packaging. It's not bee perfect by any means, but these are a few things I've found to help:
The biggest source of plastic packaging for me is food packaging, and the best way to get plastic free food is to buy it the old fashioned way, from smaller suppliers that don't sell in plastic packaging. I have gone back to my local community market as they have great veggies, dairy, bread and dried goods all packaged in paper, metal and glass (rinse and return milk bottles!). And they're totally happy for you to bring your own containers or not use any packaging at all.
And it's made me enjoy my weekly food shop so much more! Making a special trip on a Saturday morning to go buy from the people who produce the food is so much nicer than trogging round a fluorescent lite supermarket on a weekday lunchtime which used to be my usual MO.
Give up Convenience
As most convenience food is packaged in plastic (crisps, chocolate, sandwiches, takeaways) I've stopped using it at all. Cutting back on plastic packaging keeps me away from the office tuck shop in a mid-afternoon sugar slump a whole lot better than because I "shouldn't" and it's probably done my body a world of good! Although I've realised that if I buy the "fancy" chocolate (the whole bars in flavours like sea salt, or toasted almond)or those seasonal egg shaped chocolates that have recently been in the news, it comes in foil and cardboard, so I can still get a treat if I need to
As for meals when I'm out and about it's simple a matter of sitting in rather than taking away. Much better for you to take a break from your day to sit down and eat properly than stuff a sandwich down in the car between meetings, although easier said than done.
I haven't figured out how to buy meat plastic free yet. Even small producers vacuum pack their product for easy transportation. As I had a certain amount in the freezer I haven't been buying more, but I don't have a plan for when that comes to an end. I generally eat a lot of vegetarian food anyway, but I don't want to go full time veggie necessarily (it's an ongoing debate I have with myself about ethics and environmental impact, which is really due another post in itself). I would still like the option to buy meat as I continue to try and avoid plastic in the future.
Despite avoiding buying plastic over this month I've still been producing plastic waste. I have a surprising amount of things in the house that I bought before this year that came with plastic packaging, so as they are opened and used I'm putting waste back into the system/recycling. I decided to collect it all over the past week or so, just to see what it actually looks like. It's really pretty eye opening. But not very pretty, much as I've tried to make an interesting still life out of these objects it's mostly just pictures of waste. If you want to see beautiful trash The Dainty Squid does a great job of making waste look awesome.
I think that the most interesting part of this process has actually been becoming aware of really how much of our lives are now plastic wrapped. It really is everywhere and it's very difficult to avoid, but can be hugely reduced with a little bit of thought. And if enough of us make those kind of changes . . . would you give up plastic?
If you want to follow the efforts of Alice Oxford for Plastic Free January check out #plasticfreealice