Day 31: Plastic Free July 2014

Here it is, the final day of Plastic Free July 2014. Huge congratulations to those of you who have taken part in the challenge by cutting out every little piece of single-use plastic that you possibly can! I can imagine your relief, although my more manageable adaptation was mere child’s play in comparison.

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My own experience of Plastic Free July was worthwhile. Although not religiously cutting out all disposable plastics, I had a few things that I had banned for the month (cereals in plastic, shampoo, conditioner, juice in cartons to name a few) plus I avoided a whole lot more by mostly cooking from scratch and trying to choose plastic-light options where I could. Single-use plastic was on my mind a lot during the month and it definitely made me aware of how much it’s used everywhere.

There were three big wins for me this month:
1. Getting back into the habit of cooking and baking. I realised that it’s not too hard to squeeze in a bit of extra food preparation as long as I plan ahead. I found it satisfying to be providing the family with healthy options, and felt really good about reducing my food waste by using up as much as I could from my veg box. I might even have enjoyed it sometimes!

2. Reducing my rubbish. This is something that I always mean to focus on but never quite get around to. Not so funnily enough, when you cut down on single-use plastics, you cut down on what goes in the bin for landfill…

3. Tea bags! I learned that most tea companies use plastic to stick their bags together. As well as switching to tea leaves, it was satisfying to know that others were reading the blog and communicating with the companies they had (previously!) bought their bags from. In fact, if you are interested in this area, as I definitely am, then Lindsay at Treading My Own Path has a campaign to get individuals to contact the big companies. You can read all about it here - she’s even made it really easy for us all!

So will I be carrying on trying to reduce my single-use plastics?

Definitely! I think once you’ve thought about it, written about it, tried it and become slightly obsessed by it, it would be hard to go back to consuming plastic mindlessly. No doubt the topic will crop up in future blog posts so you’ll be able to see how I’m getting on.

What next?

I’ll carry on blogging of course, and my next challenge is just on the horizon. I’m a Blog Ambassador for Zero Waste Week 2014, for which the theme this year is ‘One More Thing’.

Zero Waste Week is happening from 1-7 September and Rae Strauss, who runs it, is looking for people to sign up with their pledge. Why not take a look at the website and consider joining in?

Thanks so much to everyone who has read my blog this month. To those of you who have commented and encouraged, you’ve helped me hugely! Cutting down on single-use plastics is  certainly a challenge, but blogging about it regularly is probably as much of a challenge. It is enjoyable and worthwhile, however, especially when I know it’s being read! Many thanks.

Day 28: Plastic Free July 2014

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

Well, not me just now, that’s for sure!

Thanks to Plastic Free July, I postponed my hair cut and colour, which was due at the start of the month. At the time of booking, I decided that it was the right thing to do, as the hairdresser would be using lots of products in disposable plastic. Luckily my hairdresser gets booked up several weeks in advance, so I’ve not had the opportunity to change my mind, but – urgh! – this is the longest I’ve left my hair in years and I don’t like it! The colour needs a lift, and my roots are revealing that my hair’s not as natural as I would have you believe…

Also, my hair is really dry. I think this is partly due to my (packaging-free) bar conditioner, which I’m finding difficult to distribute evenly throughout my hair. The best I can manage, by squishing it up with some water, is to make a kind of pulp, which isn’t up to the job. Then because my usual styling wax ran out at the end of July, instead of buying more (in a hard plastic tub), I decided to use a gel that I had kicking around the house. This is also packaged in plastic, but I’ll never get to the end of it (because I don’t like it!) so I decided that as I was saving it from landfill, it would therefore be okay to use. It’s horrible and turns my hair crunchy when applied – as opposed to the sleek and shiny I aspire to.

As I wrote at the start of July, I’ve given up fake tan for the month because it comes in a plastic bottle. I usually apply it with compostable gloves from VegWare, but, because I cover them in fake tan, I don’t put them in with the compost so they will be sent to landfill. I’m not a big consumer of fake tan, but I do apply it every so often in the summer when the weather’s good and I’m wearing short sleeves. I’m missing it just now.

If I was actually doing Plastic Free July according the rules (as opposed to using the evolving bespoke version I’m creating for myself!) then the ‘beauty’ situation would be a lot worse. I’m still using some plastic packaging in my make-up, despite the fact that I was hoping to find alternatives for everything – see this post. I also reneged on my decision not to use nail varnish, based on the fact that I’ve never finished a bottle of the stuff before it turns into a gloopy mess, so using it up wasn’t going to make a difference to what ends up in landfill. Plus I’m allowing myself to use cream (in plastic packaging) for my eczema-prone skin, as I can’t face an outbreak.

To have gone plastic-free on all beauty products would have resulted in me having spent July hiding indoors! I’m pleased however with my compromise. I’d love to say that I don’t care how I look, and that having pasty skin with birds nest hair isn’t an issue…but that wouldn’t be true! How I look is a factor in determining how confident I feel, but it’s only one factor.

Taking part in Plastic Free July has been a positive and enlightening experience – I’ve learned loads and connected with many interesting people. I’ve gained confidence from my involvement in it. A year ago, I thought Plastic Free July was well out of my reach and, although I’ve very much adapted it to make it manageable for me, I’ve embraced it. That gives me a glow that stepping out of a hair salon doesn’t!

Day 25: Plastic Free July 2014

Six days ago @ZeroWasteChef tweeted a link to this article. So there’s plastic in clothes, making its way into the ocean, and then the food chain? Surely not, I thought…and filed it into that part of my brain where I store ideas, that I’ll maybe think about later.

Yesterday, I revisited the theory. I typed plastic in clothes into my search engine, and the first article that was listed is this one. It was on the BBC website, but it referred to the same ecologist as in the original article, Mark Browne, who was working at the University of California.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if research such as this, is based outwith where you live (in my case the UK), then I experience it as comforting somehow – like it’s too far away to touch me. I kept reading the article however, and it seemed that Mark Browne had got in touch with a colleague in the UK – Professor Richard Thompson, based at the University of Plymouth – who had only gone and spoiled my state of denial, by checking out what fibres were propelled into the environment from the water spewed out by washing machines. It turned out that ‘some polyester garments released more than 1,900 fibres per garment, per wash’ according to Mark Browne.

Oh. I suppose that’s my washing machine, and my fibres?

I poked about a bit more on the internet – you’ll find only the highest standard of research here folks! – and read a few articles about plastic bottles that are recycled into clothes. Right enough, that did sound familiar. So it makes sense that clothes may contain plastic (not always plastic bottles!).  I searched a bit more on the net and stared thinking more about materials such as nylon and polyester.  Can you actually categorise them as a relative of plastic? I’m not sure, but I’d like to learn more. I hadn’t really thought about what happens when you wash man-made fibres. I suppose I just assumed that clothes didn’t shed bits of themselves residue.

Then I thought harder and remembered the unfortunate plumber that came out to fix our washing machine, and how he hauled out lots of horrible gunk during the process…and I remembered the cardigan that had covered my work chair with fluff…and I thought about my black socks and how they left me with tiny balls of stuff between my toes…and I began to realise that it was very possible that the fabrics from my clothes are making their way out of my washing machine and off to wherever they go…

The original article that I read via @ZeroWasteChef, talks about a proposal to develop a filter for washing machines, which would presumably keep harmful fibres from leaving the machine. The article was dated less than a year ago though so I am not hopeful that this has happened yet.

I already thought I was doing quite well on the issue of clothes and the environment. In this post I challenged myself to buy no new clothes for a year. I’m doing really well, though I have to confess to buying a new bra. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that when an underwire malfunctions, it can be pretty painful! I also challenged myself for the month of January, in this post, to reduce the number of clothes I wash, to one load per day (for a family of four). After months of trying and getting close, I finally achieved it in June! As you can imagine, I’m pretty pissed off frustrated to learn that each item of clothing I wash is potentially releasing 1,900 fibres per wash!

Is this something that you know about? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Before I sign off please check out this great post by The Snail Of Happiness, who emailed Clipper about the plastic content of her tea bags. Do welcome her as the newest (reluctant!) member of the tea leaf brigade…

Day 22: Plastic Free July 2014

I’ve ditched the toothy tabs and the bamboo toothbrush.  The toothy tabs went first – no amount of trying to persuade myself that they weren’t too bad or that I’d acquire a taste for them worked. The bottom line is that, for me, they were so disgusting they actually made me feel like I was going to throw up.  Literally. Plastic Free July or not, I’m not that committed!

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The toothbrush lasted longer.  I’ve had a bad experience with bamboo toothbrushes before – see this post – but I thought I’d found a better brand this time. Indeed, I was quite happy with it until Day 10 when the first clump of bristles came away while I was brushing. Not pleasant, but I hung on to it until the second clump came away one morning when I was brushing my teeth alongside my children. One bristle got caught at the back of my throat and – you guessed it – I thought I was going to throw up. I was trying to supress my reaction from the kids, which made the situation all the worse…  I’ve therefore gone back to using my brush with the disposable heads which I really like. I got mine here.  There’s obviously plastic involved, but less of it.  It’s worth it for a trauma-free experience!

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The next thing I could try if I find myself with a spare moment would be a recipe for homemade toothpaste. If you want to try some out then @polytheenpam uses this one and Lindsay at @treadmyowpath uses this one. I also picked up a handy tip from Lindsay’s blog.  She managed to separate the bristles from her bamboo toothbrush by soaking it in water, so that she could then compost the bamboo.  As I write, mine is sitting in a mug of water (having already been used for scrubbing the bathroom clean earlier!)

In other news – look what I saw in Tesco yesterday.

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Your eyes do not deceive you – these balls are actually each wrapped in plastic film. I don’t think I need to say anything more about this…!

Finally, thanks to those of you who’ve got in touch to let me know about the companies you’ve contacted about the potential plastic in their products. I was especially touched by this comment left on the blog yesterday, by twothirdswild:

I know you are in the UK, and I am in Australia, but I have been following your Plastic Free July journey via your blog. I am also participating in Plastic Free July here, and am learning so much along the way. I read with interest your blog about plastic in tea bags, and thought “there’s no way there is plastic in my tea-bags over here”. BUT, I thought I should follow it up, just for my peace of mind. I buy an Australian grown and owned brand of tea called Nerada which is packaged in a 95% recycled cardboard box, with no inner or outer plastic film unlike so many other brands on the supermarket shelves! Anyway, I decided to email the company and ask them, as there was nothing on their website that mentioned plastic in the bags. To my amazement, and to their credit, I received a response within half an hour. The low-down……. Yes, there are cellulose and thermo-plastic fibres in the bags which are necessary to seal the product! Gobsmacked, I was. Their bags are however, made from manila hemp, which has been oxygen whitened, not treated with chlorine or chlorine based compounds, so that is a big bonus. Anyway, we live and learn, and do our best to individually and collectively raise our awareness of these sorts of hidden issues. Keep up the good work!

I can relate to the disappointment! As I’ve said in a past post, I felt a little as if my heart had been broken by the trusty tea bag… It’s comforting though to know that, as consumers, we have the power to ask questions and vote with our feet.  Thanks once again to @polytheenpam to her post on Plastic Is Rubbish for raising the issue of the plastic tea bag.

Day 19: Plastic Free July 2014

In my last post I mentioned that I have just come back from a short holiday. I’ve been trying to work out the best way that I can write about this, without simply making it a log of all of the plastic we encountered and consumed which runs the risk of being dry, not to mention depressing as – believe me! – there was plastic everywhere…

I quickly gave up on the idea of trying to tightly monitor the plastic we accepted on holiday. It really wouldn’t have been fun for anyone (me, my family or the hotel staff), plus sometimes you have to make a big effort to avoid small amounts of plastic, and is it really worth the hassle in the bigger picture?

Bare with me!

We did avoid plastic where we could, for example, we brought our own picnic lunch with us on the first day, and we packed our bar soap, shampoo and conditioners from home. I had tucked my entire collection of foldable and reusable Onya bags into my suitcase, which I dutifully used instead of plastic carriers. The new tea strainers and tea leaves came along for the holiday, so we avoided using a single tea bag in the hotel room.

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On top of that we did other ‘green’ things like bring home the pile of paper waste that we’d accumulated, to be recycled.

The point I’m making, however, is that for all of the small things we did to play our part in Plastic Free July, it felt like a drop in the huge ocean of plastic that was being used in the hotel.

If you are reading this and thinking but every little piece of plastic saved makes a difference! then rest assured that I agree with you. Small actions add up and over time, or with lots of people doing small actions, big changes can be made. Somehow though for this holiday, it didn’t seem enough for me.

The best way that I can think of that I might make a difference to the way this hotel runs, is to email them with suggestions for changes they can make that will have a positive impact on the environment.

Now, I have to admit that a part of me is sighing at the thought of sitting down and composing that email! It will be time consuming and, during Plastic Free July I’ve been taking part in a fair amount of time consuming activities such as cooking, baking, juice squeezing and making special shopping trips for plastic-free products. However, I’m pleased with my progress and I really want to have some things to show for all of my work. If nothing else, my email will have to be read by someone at the hotel and hopefully I will receive a response. This will involve someone thinking, even just a little bit, about what I’ve written.

Some of my fellow bloggers have been illustrating through their writing, the impact that their letters and emails have made during Plastic Free July. Rita day got an amazing response here to an email she sent asking for plastic packaging to be left out of a product. Nicola wrote to Tea Pigs to find out if there is plastic in their tea temples and they emailed her back here, and Zoe wrote to Dairycrest and tweeted Kallo here about their stock cube wrappers. I also tweeted five companies to ask if they use plastic in their tea bags and got an answer from two, which you can read about here, and I tweeted the Ethical Superstore to ask if they could label relevant products as ‘plastic free’ which they agreed to do.

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Hopefully all of this shows that consumers have a voice, and that sometimes positive results are actually achieved!

I will therefore dutifully sit down and write my email and I will, of course, keep you up to date. In the meantime, if you have contacted a company about issues related to plastic, then I’d love to hear about it. If you have been considering writing about a product then why not do it now! A tweet can take less than one minute but still make a huge impact :-)

Day 17: Plastic Free July 2014

The keener observers amongst you will have noticed that the number of blog posts I’ve written this week has decreased. The reason for this is that I’ve been away on a short family holiday. But…it’s Plastic Free July!

That was my first thought, but my other half pointed out that not taking the kids away for a few days of fun because I was avoiding disposable plastics, wasn’t my best idea. Sitting at home while Mummy creatively finds alternatives to cling film and washes out her new tea diffusers, isn’t really making the most of the holidays, is it? So off we went for to a great wee hotel for a few nights. Yippee!

I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to play the whole plastic-free thing. As you know, I’ve thrown the rule book away and have been playing Plastic Free July by ear – avoiding disposable plastics where I can (mostly), but concentrating on the bigger issues such as making changes that will affect my long-term use of plastics. Plus I’ve been doing things like cooking from scratch, which cut out a number of plastics in one concentrated effort. Was I going to be on edge the whole time, hovering over bar staff as they poured drinks on the lookout for errant plastic straws? Or could I possibly be a little more relaxed about it all?

I decided that if we were going to enjoy ourselves at all, then relaxed it had to be…but I wasn’t going to go crazy and undo all my good work to date.

I’ll write more about the holiday in my next post but here are a few of my holiday snaps to show you some of the challenges we came across.

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Plastic milk, tea bags & sugar in plastic-y paper packets

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Miniature shampoos & body washes in plastic containers (plus soap in a suspicious plastic-paper wrapper)

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Hot chocolate sachet with a plastic layer inside

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Mini cereals at breakfast with a plastic bag each

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Disposable cups with plastic lids given when the request was made for two glasses of water!

Who said other people’s holiday photos were boring?!! ;-)

Day 12: Plastic Free July 2014

One of the things that I love about blogging is that I’m communicating…and people are communicating right back with me! It’s instant and it’s powerful. Take this plastic in our tea bags thing that I’ve been banging on about, for example. At first there were a few of us discussing it over Twitter and writing things on our blogs (initiated, I must say by @polytheenpam, not me), and now it seems that there’s a mini army at work, trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on with our old friend the tea bag! Between us, we are getting the word out that there is plastic in some tea bags, trying to work out which ones, and letting it be known that we don’t want to drink plastic tea!

The original post that @polytheenpam wrote on Plastic is Rubbish can be found here, and Lindsay of Treading My Own Path published this great post yesterday. I wrote a few posts mentioning the issue, and then tweeted Tetley, Twinings, Café Direct, Yorkshire Tea and PG Tips to find out if they use plastic in their tea bags – you can read more here (there is no update since then). Nicola* who tweets as @mehubbyandkids contacted @teapigs through Twitter, which she then followed up with an email. They confirmed that they do not use plastic in their tea temples, which they say are 100% made from a bi-product of corn starch called Soilon. (I added the link). They go on to state that it can take anywhere between 12 and 36 months to break down in a home composter. Jax Blunt who tweets as @liveotherwise contacted @LidlUK, who have said they’ll find out for her if their tea bags are plastic-free.

So, there you go – we’re on the case! If you want to find out if your tea bags are made with plastic, why not get in touch with your preferred brand? If you’re communicating via twitter, why not jump on the hash tag #plastictea so that others can see your progress. I’d be really interested in any new information that’s uncovered.

Anyway, my trusty tea bags have broken my heart, so they’re dumped! I’m hooking up with the plastic-free tea leaf now, and this morning I finally took a trip into Whittard in Edinburgh to acquire some. I left the kids at home with Daddy – assuring him that although this did, to all intents and purposes, seem like I was off on a lovely Saturday morning shopping trip, I was actually on a mission for Plastic Free July…

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Whittard on Princes Street, Edinburgh

I haven’t been to Whittard for years, but it was a lovely shop with the friendliest of staff, who were very happy to weigh out my tea, and give it to me in my own container.

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Selection of loose tea leaves

I hadn’t considered buying anything other than English Breakfast tea, but I reckon I might be more adventurous on my next visit.

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My tea, and a selection of strainers

I bought an open tea strainer from John Lewis for making tea in a pot, plus two individual tea strainers from Whittard for popping in a mug. I realise they are swathed in plastic, but I decided that this is the short-term trade-off to allow me to drink plastic-free tea, long-term.

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Tea strainers in action

Okay, so I think that’s enough on tea for the moment. I may revisit this topic with a separate post after July – short updates only from now on!

In other news, I think I’m still doing well in significantly reducing my single-use plastics. One indicator of this is our bin bag, which has taken much longer than usual to fill up. I have cut right down on things like yoghurt pots, biscuit wrappers and juice cartons (which are non-recyclable in my area, as far as I can tell). The children don’t seem to have noticed that some of their usual favourites aren’t making it into the house at the moment, and are enjoying the new alternatives such as more baking, freshly squeezed juice and rice, instead of pasta and noodles – which take up more plastic wrapping per portion.

I’m enjoying focussing on where I use disposable plastics, and on trying to find solutions. I’ll be off the blog until the end of the week, but will be back then to update on my progress. Good luck to everyone who’s taking part in Plastic Free July – we’re nearly half way now!

*A big thank you to Nicola for sharing the email from Tea Pigs with me, and giving her permission for me to use it in my post.

Day 10: Plastic Free July 2014

I’m loving some of the blog comments and tweets that have been coming to me over the last few of days, in response to the issue of tea bags containing plastic. If you’re new here then – that’s right, plastic in the ACTUAL BAG! I’m sorry…

Some of us Plastic Free July-er’s got into discussions about this (initiated by @polytheenpam) just as the challenge was about to kick off. The issue’s rumbled on a bit, raising questions such as, do you have to give up tea bags to go plastic-free? Is there plastic in all tea bags? Is plastic in tea safe? It’s caused a bit of a storm or – as my other half is calling it – a storm in a teacup…!

Anyway, yesterday I decided that I needed to investigate this issue a bit further. Coincidentally, I had retweeted this old post out earlier in the day on the subject of asking companies for what you want regarding plastic-free products. I had received some positive comments from those who had read it, saying that they were either doing this, or felt they should do this more. @AnnaPitt got straight on the issue and tweeted Sainsburys, to ask if they were planning to phase out their non-recyclable plastic packaging. Wow great, I thought – how quick and easy is that?!

Inspired, I looked up online some of the tea bag manufacturers that I could think of. My plan was to email them all with the same simple questions, and then collate their responses to share here on the blog. The problem was though, that some of them didn’t clearly display their email addresses, one would let me comment through a page where you left your question, and another wanted all sorts of personal information with my enquiry. It was all shaping up to be a long drawn out process, and my enthusiasm for the task was waning.

So I thought of Anna, and composed a quick tweet which I sent out to the following companies not long before 9pm last night – here’s my progress to date (apologies for the quality of the screenshots)

Tetley

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No reply so far

Twinings

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No reply so far

Café Direct

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Response received

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Yorkshire Tea 

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Response received

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 Fast response, to the point!

PG Tips

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Response received

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So I decided to phone, just before 2pm today on the number given*. I got to speak to someone 7 minutes and 25 seconds later. The woman who answered asked me how she could help, so I explained that I wanted to know if there was plastic in tea bags. She wondered if I was asking for composting purposes, I explained I was more interested in the health aspect. I was put on hold for a short time, and then she returned with the information that there is a small amount of plastic in the tea bags to hold the bag together, but that it shouldn’t cause health issues. The conversation went on, and I think she said that the bag is made up of 0.02% plastic, but I can’t be sure. I then asked if there was information on the internet about this issue that I could read. I was put on hold again and she said that there should be a small amount of information on the PG Tips website about how tea bags are made. I thanked her and hung up. The call lasted around 12.5 minutes.

Phew! So there were go, there’s plastic in the bags of the two companies who answered my question, with three responses hopefully to come. For the record, I don’t care if the plastic in the tea bag shouldn’t cause health issues – I don’t want to drink any plastic! If you’ve contacted any companies on this issue, I’d love to know how they responded.

Oh, and look what was delivered this morning! My first glass bottle of milk to pour in my tea!

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*I took copious notes during the call, so hopefully have accurately conveyed the gist of the conversation but obviously not the full script!

Day 8: Plastic Free July 2014

I’m really beginning to enjoy Plastic Free July!

Maybe it’s because I’ve chucked the rule book out of the window, and am focussing on all of my plastic-free successes, and, kind of just…ignoring the failures… ;-)

Calm down! My heart is in the right place – in fact I’m slightly obsessed with single-use plastics – but I’ve decided not to sweat the small stuff. I’m focussing my energy on the areas I can make a difference and, if there are a few plastic casualties on the way, then so be it!

So, what’s been happening over the last couple of days?

In my war against plastic, I identified that a weak area for me is food shopping. Specifically, food shopping with small people! My kids know what their favourite things are, and are good at arguing their case! Nothing wrong with that. In their world, generally good things are healthy, bad things are unhealthy. I’m finding it difficult to deal with requests that are healthy, and therefore reasonable as far as they’re concerned, but that are wrapped in plastic.

It’s not especially fair for me to change the rules that they have become used to, so I decided to do a shopping trip alone in the evening. It worked well – I was round the supermarket in half the usual time, and was able to stick to my list, plus take a look for any plastic-free products that I hadn’t thought of. (I have little to offer in the way of suggestions, there is a lot of plastic in the supermarket!)

One thing that’s been bothering me since the start of July, is the discovery that there’s seemingly plastic in tea bags. Yes! In the actual bag! As I’ve written before, my main issue with this is that I detest the idea that I might be melting plastic into a cup of hot water, and then drinking it. It just doesn’t sound safe! Unfortunately for me though, I am somewhat attached to my daily cuppa (or five), so there was only one thing for it, I had to find a source of loose tea in plastic-free packaging, near home.

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Incidentally, I think you can save the planet with or without a babysitter!

I googled the relevant key words and phoned the first company listed. I cheerily explained that I was looking for packaging-free tea leaves. I was met by a silence, and then a stutter that…er… yes I could have it packaging-free, but I’d still have to pay for the packaging, because all tea arrives at the shop in the packaging. Not prepared to drive across town, just to have tea leaves cut out of their plastic and given to me, I hastily said goodbye. The next company raised my hopes by saying that their packaging was a cardboard box but, just as I started getting excited, the person on the end of the phone remembered that the leaves were actually in a plastic bag inside the cardboard box. My final call was to Wittard in Edinburgh, where a helpful sales person assured me that I could bring in my own container, and the only ‘packaging’ I’d have to accept was a sticky label with the price.

Really?

Yes, really!

She sounded amused that she’d made me so happy with this small piece of information, but she had! Getting into the centre of Edinburgh to execute this purchase is going to be one big hassle, but I’m keen to drink plastic-free tea, so I’ll let you know how it goes!

Finally in the last couple of days, I’ve done a mountain of food preparation. I think I’ve mentioned this in most of my posts during Plastic Free July! It really is, however, the key to me eliminating as many single-use plastics as possible! Actually I’m really enjoying the cooking, but I fully acknowledge that this is because I’m feeling motivated and full of energy – I know I can’t keep up this level of production throughout the year!

I made soup that was so close to being plastic-free, it hurts! The recipe is here. I left out the Alpro. I think that my only plastic fails were the plastic-clad curry powder, and the small bits of plastic on the cap and neck of the oil bottle .

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I froze it in old jam jars, which was great as it meant I could reuse the jars (with plastic-lined lids), instead of recycling as usual. Plus they were a good size for squeezing into the small spaces left in the freezer.

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I’ve been churning out bread-maker bread, boiling eggs, baking potatoes and making more almost plastic-free fairy cakes, which we’ve been consuming at home – instead of plastic-wrapped biscuits – and taking to friends when we visit.

The down side of all of this productivity is that it is generating lots of dishes, at the time of cooking, and all of these reusable containers that will need washed up when the food has been eaten.

Today at least though, Plastic Free July’s going well. Let’s just not talk about the odd pieces of disposable plastic that are sneaking in here and there! Let’s pretend they’ve never happened and maybe all of my preparations will mean that, one day, they won’t!

 

Day 6: Plastic Free July 2014

Yesterday I tried out my plastic-free shampoo and conditioners for the first time. I ordered these from Lush online and was somewhat taken aback by the packaging that they arrived in.

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On first glance, I thought the white things were polystyrene balls, but the box stated that they were fully compostable, and that the cardboard could be recycled. This made me feel better. Plastic Free July however, has got me thinking about ordering online, and the associated negative issue that it is hard to avoid plastic packaging.

Anyway…back to the hair products. I had somewhat stubbornly refused to try out my shampoo and conditioner bars before July, because I was convinced they would be a poor alternative to my usual brands, and I didn’t want to have to ‘suffer’ them before I had to.

Actually, as it turned out, I didn’t notice a difference. I felt that the Lush bars were quite expensive (you can check out prices on the website), but I hardly made a dent in them, so perhaps they will last me for a long time, and turn out to be good value for money.

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The conditioner is in a compostable wrap

Rubbing the shampoo bar on my hair felt like a strange thing to do, but it lathered up nicely and cleaned my hair perfectly well. I didn’t really know what to do with the conditioning bar, so I broke a corner off and squeezed it into a pulp, which I massaged through my hair. I don’t feel that I managed to distribute it as well as I would with liquid conditioner, but it seemed to work.

I have hair that is very dry so I really need hair products that are up to the job. I am optimistic that my new bars will get me through the month without turning my hair to straw – I’ll keep you updated!

A word of advice – do tell your family if you have shampoo that looks like soap. I found mine sitting on the sink, having already washed some little hands – at great expense!

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Last night I met a friend in Edinburgh for a meal and drinks. It was a plastic-free experience (I think!). I travelled into town on the bus, acquiring a paper ticket and managed to avoid any drinks straws or plastic cutlery, so the whole outing was stress-free.

Oh, and for those of you concerned that I am being forced into a dry July because of the plastic issue, I did manage a couple of glasses of wine. I will admit that I didn’t ask to examine the bottle for traces of plastic screw-tops or plastic-coated foil. I’m pretty sure I’d have found some!  I’m sticking to the if it’s not in my bin, it’s not my plastic* rule…no abuse of the rule is allowed though!

I’m still finding that the biggest change I’ve been making to eliminate plastics, is to make a lot more of my food from scratch. I’m constantly planning a meal or two ahead, and chopping and cooking up veg where I can, so that dishes can be thrown easily together when I need them. It’s all been really boring stuff so far, like tomato based sauces, so I’m going to have to up my game soon!

We had visitors for coffee this morning and I whipped up a batch of (almost) plastic-free fairy cakes instead of buying plastic-wrapped biscuits. Plus all of the orange squeezing is meaning that less rubbish is going into the bin from non-recyclable juice-cartons. Yay!

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As ever, thanks for all of the comments and encouragement, they’re really helping!

*thanks to @polytheenpam of Plastic Is Rubbish  and Plastic Free UK for this rule