The things that I buy and how I dispose of any subsequent waste has become important to me since starting this blog. In fact, I’m somewhat taken aback at my previous lack of awareness in these areas. The idea that I used to put my fruit and vegetable peelings in the bin instead of the composter for example, now seems a little negligent in terms of my responsibility towards the environment.
The Plastic Free July posts made me think especially hard. Suddenly I am beginning to consider the single-use plastics in my life in a way that had previously escaped my notice.
On reflection, I relied on them heavily when we were out and the children needed a snack. I have since found it virtually impossible to grab a simple drink or portion of food that doesn’t involve single use plastic. Many fruit drinks and possibly all water brands are packaged in small plastic bottles and even when opting for a carton of juice, there is a plastic straw attached, wrapped in, you guessed it… plastic! Snacks vary in their wrappings but typically pre-prepared fruit containers are made of plastic and dried fruits, crisps or biscuits are usually in crinkly little bags that strongly suggest they too are made of the evil stuff… Happily I can easily remedy this problem by thinking ahead and ensuring I have drinks and food I have prepared at home and since doing this I have become enlightened as to the cost of pit stops and how totally unnecessary spending money on these has been!
Through this new practice of packing snacks, suddenly (like some sort of bolt of lightning!) it occurred to me that my Other Half is buying his lunch at work each day and no doubt is guilty of consuming single-use plastics in the process.
Now for a small admission: very occasionally, I can be accurately accused of self-righteousness and wading on issues that are arguably none of my business. So, on realising that there was an area of our consumption I didn’t have full control over, I may have demanded to know what kind of packaging his bought lunches came in!
Obviously this was all a bit dramatic as my patient Other Half doesn’t actually regard his lunch as particularly sensitive information in the first place. However….and, here’s the important part…I had uncovered a single-use plastic mini crisis in our lives! For four days of the week this increasingly environment-aware man, who tends to the compost bin and sorts out the recycling every week, was buying soup that came in a plastic cup and a sandwich in a triangular plastic packet.
Further, each lunch was costing approximately £4 which, as you don’t need me to tell you, adds up to £16 per week and approximately £64 per month. Total waste therefore comes to £64 plus 16 plastic cups and 16 sandwich wrappers.
We found these statistics sobering and saw the irony in the fact that we are pretty chuffed with ourselves at home when we only put out one bin bag of rubbish for the weekly collection but simultaneously we are generating rubbish without thought outside of the house.
So we struck a deal. I would put together a simple packed lunch for him each morning and in return he would give me £1 to spend on environmentally friendly lunch ‘packaging’.
Here’s an example of the lunches I’ve been making:
- Homemade soup
- Sandwich made with homemade bread, filled with e.g. slice of ham or homemade egg mayo
- Pieces of fruit from our veg box
This is the only thing I’ve bought so far with the money I’ve ‘charged’ him for these nutritious, delicious lovingly put together lunches.
It’s a sandwich wrap which is easily washable in the washing machine, dishwasher or by hand and means I don’t need any clingfilm or foil – you can see it wrapping the sandwich in the first photo.
Of course, we already have some containers in the house which means that actually he can probably stop handing over his £1 very soon because (in keeping with my Meaner Greener Me) aims, I don’t want to be buying anything that we don’t actually need.
He claims to be enjoying his packed lunch more than the ones he was buying. He is also pleased about hanging on to his hard earned cash and I definitely feel better that we are helping to reduce the amount of plastic going straight to landfill.