Plastic-free Me: December diary day

Last month I thought it would be interesting to record a random day each month on the blog to track the single-use plastics that I’m consuming. If I can identify these then, hopefully I can find replacements for Plastic Free July. You can read November’s diary day here.

On Tuesday I therefore grabbed a pen and some paper to take a note of what I was using. The pen was plastic but, unlike last month when I picked up a notebook covered in plastic, this month I thought first and found a piece of scrap paper.

The first task of our morning is a nappy-change. This month instead of using wipes we have changed to a wet flannel. It’s really no problem to do this at home and cuts out the single-use plastic from the packet of wipes (and because it creates no waste, it is obviously more eco-friendly).

Breakfast is the usual porridge, made with milk (plastic bottle), tinned fruit, raisins (plastic bag) and juice (plastic pourer). This reminds me that I really must sort out my milk order as documented in this post. I’d also like to find raisins in cardboard packaging and plastic-free juice. Surely adding a plastic pourer to juice cartons is a new invention? Where has the retro-style cardboard container gone?!

After breakfast, there’s more plastic in the form of toothbrushes and toothpaste (see this post), medication (I’ve still to write to the drugs companies to explore alternatives), hand cream, vitamins for the children and make up. This is another reminder that I must trial some plastic free make-up. Read this post to find out more and enjoy the excellent comments from kind readers helping me out!

No doubt you have already found my day highly exciting (!) but for us Tuesday was about to get a whole lot better as we all had a day off to experience Edinburgh’s Winter Wonderland. Scotland’s capital city prides itself on its Christmas and Hogmanay (New Year) celebrations. In central Edinburgh, Princes Street Gardens has a Christmas market, fairground rides and an ice rink. I was interested to find out if visiting this attraction was going to increase our usage of disposable plastics…although obviously this was not the motivation for the visit!!!

We travelled to Edinburgh by train and although we avoided single-use plastics, it was really disappointing to note that there was a lot of discarded plastic in the undergrowth around the station – mainly food and drink packaging, which you can just about make out in this photo.

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We had a brilliant morning at the Winter Wonderland. Here’s a photo of the big wheel….

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And the view from the top….

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We also had an unfortunate view of a canoodling couple in the next carriage but I don’t have any pictures of them!

I don’t think we consumed any plastic at all at the Wonderland but our downfall came when we went for a snack in the John Lewis café afterwards.

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Juice for the children came in cartons with plastic straws, and milk portions for our tea and coffee were also packaged in the evil stuff. I am seriously wondering if we are going to be able to eat out at all in July.

On the off chance you’re enjoying some rare photos that aren’t plastic waste, then here’s a picture we took of an Edinburgh Tram on our way through town – not in use yet despite all the hype. I digress.

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Lunch at home was toasted bagels (plastic bag) with beans. The beans tin stated that it should be recycled as steel, but it appeared to be lined with what I think was BPA. We gave the kids organic carrots (from a plastic bag) and then while they went off to play we selflessly raided the chocolate from the selection boxes they had received – too much chocolate is no good for young children after all….

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The packets in the photo above came in a plastic tray which itself had a plastic wrapper on it so the chocolate was therefore triple wrapped in plastic! We didn’t buy this but it does raise a question about what to do regarding excessively packaged gifts in July.

In the afternoon I visited a shopping centre to finish off my Christmas shopping. While I was mindful of my plastic consumption, I wasn’t organised enough to avoid it but it did get me thinking outside the box for a few gifts and I was quite pleased to pick up some balls of wool for the kids’ stockings that we can use to make pom-poms and some unpackaged wooden pencils with pencil toppers on the end.

I refused plastic bags in every shop I went to and told the shop assistants that I was doing it to ‘save the planet’ – I figure it doesn’t hurt to let people know as long as I’m not subjecting them to a lecture or a personal reading of my blog…

I asked the shop assistant in Waterstones if many people are bringing their own bags when buying books. He reckoned that while increasing numbers are, it’s probably not as much as 50% of shoppers. I was actually heartened to hear this as my assumption was that people associate reusable bags with grocery shopping only and collect plastic bags without thinking for other shopping.

Dinner that night included an organic pepper, cheese and yogurt which all cam e in plastic, alerting me to the fact that I need to find out what recipes can be sourced or adapted to get me through July.

In the evening I made a Christmas card with my eldest child. This was a fun activity rather than a mission to cut down on single use plastics which is just as well as we made the Christmas pudding out of Hama beads.

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Oh how we love Hama beads in our house! We first got them in the summer and they have been played with regularly ever since, with more packets having been acquired.

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They make me feel really guilty though, as of course they are hard plastic and eventually most of these creations will end up in the bin (although proud relatives are currently saving them from landfill in the shape of coasters, cards, or pin board adornments)!  It’s a dilemma for me though as the children are very creative with them and I love watching them enjoying themselves and discovering their talents.

Peppered throughout the day were the usual plastic-offenders such as dishwasher tablets, washing up liquid and make-up remover wipes which I’ve still to find suitable replacements for.

Since last month, I have changed my brand of tea to Twinnings which comes in plastic-free packaging (as long as I buy the packs of 40 bags)…

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 …and I have been bulk buying toilet roll in compostable packaging.

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The only problem is that all of the compostable packets come wrapped in a massive packet of polythene, defeating my purpose somewhat.

There you go then. Still a large amount of single-use plastics consumed in my day but I have found some solutions and am working on others.

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10 thoughts on “Plastic-free Me: December diary day

  1. These posts are a real eye opener. It’s scary how much hidden (and not so hidden) plastic there is around us.

    With regards to medication, obviously I don’t know, or need to know, what it is but can you get it in liquid form? It may require bargaining with your doctor but quite a lot of tablets are also available in liquid form which will come in a glass bottle (wait, the cap will be plastic though I think argh!!) never mind. I thought I might have been helping. 😦

    • Thanks, I hadn’t thought of getting medication in a different form. It’s only an antihistamine and they definitely come in bottles so might be able to get one with a metal lid!

  2. You can get a kit from John Lewis for making your own paper beads (it compresses the paper into small firm beads) for about a tenner – then your crafty bits should all in theory be compostable once they are past their best 🙂

  3. Nearly all tins are plastic lined

    Yes most packaging that looks like paper or card – if it is used to wrap food – including sugar sachets in cafes – it is plastic lined. Even if it looks like paper it is plastic lined paper. Same for foil. You think that butter is not wrapped in plastic – think again.

    And don’t forget those sneaky plastic lined lids on glass containers! Truely a pain in the jars!

    Check out this site for a milk man http://plasticisrubbish.com/2012/06/18/pams-new-year-message/
    Ecover refills for washing up liquid. There is refill finder post code search on their website.

    Do you want to write a post about plastic free July for http://theplasticchallenge.com/ ?

  4. Pingback: Plastic-free Me: February Diary Day | westywrites

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