Plastic-free Me: February Diary Day

This is the last post I’ll write until after Easter in my Plastic-free Me series on the blog.  As you will know, if you’ve been reading recently, I’m going supermarket-free over lent and will be blogging regularly about it – I’m aiming for a post every few days so I’ll be seriously upping my writing game for around 6 weeks!

I thought about doing a plastic-free post every now and again but I’ve decided just to focus on one writing topic at a time. However, I’m hoping that by forgoing the supermarket, I will reduce my plastic further by default.  Already I have activated my milk home-delivery order (more on that below) and I will be exploring a packaging-free shop nearby. Plus I’m hoping to get to some Farmers’ Markets and, from past experience, there is much more loose produce available there than in the plastic-fantastic supermarkets.

Although I haven’t quit the supermarket yet, I am hoping it’s going to be a lot easier than eliminating plastic! The purpose of these ‘diary days’ are to record my progress towards going plastic-free in July and so for the sake of this diary, I must put it in writing that as I type, I am not relaxed at all about Plastic Free July!  The way I feel just now is that I am resigned to having to ‘declare’ some plastics right at the start of the challenge that I won’t be able to avoid if I’m to function and eat a balanced diet. Saying that, I do feel determined and hopeful. I’m optimistic about going plastic-free and I still have several months in which to make further progress! I’d love it if you’d stay with me over lent and follow me as I ditch the supermarket and for those of you who have held my hand in cyber space as I’ve shown so many items of plastic the door, there’ll be little plastic-y references within my posts just for you!

First though, let me tell you about Thursday 27th February which was the date I selected to track my use of plastic…

My day started as most of my other diary days have done.  You can read those posts here: November, December and January.

In short, I reckon that in July I have already found enough plastic-free products to get me through breakfast and brush my teeth.  The medication I take for my allergies is still a sticking point that I need to progress, plus although I can have a shower, I can’t yet have a plastic-free hair wash!  I need to test out plastic-free shampoos and conditioners. I really could do with a good skin moisturiser as well that is plastic-free (and nut-free – that’s one of the allergies – grrr!)

On Thursday, the first task I undertook was making a packed lunch for my other half.  Sheepishly, I feel the need to point out just now that this lunch is not just provided by me as a kindly gesture of love but because I realised that when he bought his lunch each day from a shop at work, he was using up all sorts of packaging – see this post. He gave into my control-freakery because he’s good like that (plus it saved him £4 a day on lunch costs and he got a homemade lunch out of it.) Everyone’s a winner! …Except somehow – although my lunch is definitely the environmental victor compared to the shop-bought alternative – bits of plastic have been creeping in every now and again. Fail! For example, Thursday’s lunch, which was made in a rush,  included babybel (these come triple wrapped!), oatcakes in a plastic bag and a portion of nuts – also from a plastic bag.  I must do better…

The rest of the day was a quiet one at home for me as my youngest child had been poorly with a minor bug. All that was on the agenda was to drop my eldest at nursery and do the pick up again a few hours later.  We are normally so busy that a day at home was bliss.  It was also an opportunity to monitor my plastic consumption in an environment where I am totally in control.

The first ‘event’ was sitting on the couch reading stories. Lovely, and it means that I have an activity under my belt that will be plastic-free for July.  I was going for gold so I took a piece of my own advice from my recent what not to buy post and squeezed some fresh juice from the organic oranges in my veg box for my little patient. Providing a plastic-free snack was not, however, as easy.  I’m lucky in that my children are good eaters and devour fruit but there’s only so much of that it’s wise to give them.  They regularly have these shop-bought oat bars.

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For ages I’ve been meaning to find recipes to make snacks to replace them and indeed, I tried one previously but it was too sugary to be healthy. My wee ones also have kids’ crisps but these come in a plastic packet and I’m doubtful that they’re as healthy as the marketing suggests.

By the afternoon, my youngest had picked up significantly and happily played with my eldest all afternoon while I attacked my to-do list. (Does anyone work faster than a parent whose time to get things done will run out at any minute?!)

I got on the phone to the dairy I had chosen for home-delivery.  In under five minutes I had placed my order thus diverting more money away from the supermarket and securing myself the option of glass-bottled milk for July. Hooray!

I loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, wondering how I am going to find plastic-free dishwasher tablets and packaging in July… Although I have not solved the problem of washing-up liquid for doing the dishes in the sink, I recently ordered a huge container of Ecover that comes in a thin plastic bag – the idea being that you dispense it into your own bottle and save on packaging.

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On Thursday I tried dispensing the liquid into my empty Fairy container, but managed instead to pour about 50ml of the stuff all over my kitchen floor.  I mopped it up with some old clothes which I chucked in the washing machine to rinse.  As you can see from the photo below that the result was a hugely foamy drum (at a point where no suds should be showing).

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It took three rinse cycles in the machine and a bath of cold water to restore the situation to normal.  Not environmentally friendly at all… You live and learn.

I made raisin bread in the breadmaker – finding completely plastic-free bread ingredients is still outstanding!  Then we had homemade vegetable crumble for dinner.  This dish is so nearly plastic-free, but it still contains seeds and cheese as offenders (note the soon-to-be-banished Tesco packaging!)

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So, there you go – lots of progress made and still a long way to go before July!

I hope to meet you back on the Plastic-Free Me series after Easter – let’s see if taking a break from writing about plastic elimination is the blogging equivalent of ‘sleeping on it’ and perhaps progress will evolve effortlessly? I can but dream…

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6 thoughts on “Plastic-free Me: February Diary Day

  1. Hi Westy, I’ve not commented or tweeted for a while, but I’m glad to see you’re still trying to reduce the amount of plastic. Plastic annoys me, especially when it’s unnecessary, but it’s really difficult to cut it out completely.

    You mentioned milk. For years we had doorstep milk deliveries from the local dairy, and it was packaged in glass bottles with aluminium foil tops. The dairy was bought out by another local dairy and in turn that was bought out by a bigger firm. The first thing to go were the foil caps, replaced by un-recyclable plastic ones. Eventually the glass bottles were scrapped too. It was price and the fact that they kept reducing the number of deliveries per week that forced us to stop using them (not to mention that they were supplying 500ml bottles and diddling us out of 68ml of milk per bottle!)

    Our local council has now started recycling plastic, which makes me feel a little bit better about the whole thing. The milk bottles now get recycled when before they would have gone to landfill. Meat trays, while not usually accepted for recycling, are often sturdy enough to be kept and re-used – I haven’t bought seed trays from a garden centre for years.

    My biggest bug-bear is plastic carrier bags. I don’t have my own transport any more, so I rely on my supermarket’s home-delivery service. It is very frustrating to find a single bag containing one item. What’s more frustrating is that they deliver all the bags in the sturdy green trays – why can’t they just leave the trays and pick them up the next time they deliver? A small deposit would ensure that they got them back.

    Good luck with this next endeavour!

    • Hi Gus! Glad to see you back – I did actually look up your twitter account a few weeks ago to see if you were still ‘online’ – great you are 🙂

      Good point about the milk tops, I hadn’t even thought to check they are going to be plastic-free, I must!!!

      The amount of plastic around is crazy – I wish there was less and this was an easier challenge!

  2. You could always put less sugar in than a recipe calls for… I often give my kids home made popcorn as a snack (but I haven’t found it out of a plastic bag yet). Other snacks they get include chopped up fruit, chopped up veg, chunks of cheese, rice cakes (not great as they come packaged, but if you buy the adult ones instead of the kids ones they are cheaper and come in less packaging…). I sometimes make them melba toast out of bread that would have otherwise gone off… I keep trying to make oatcakes, but have been unsuccessful so far…

    I saw a great tip here: http://naturesnurtureblog.com/2012/08/07/pour-liquids-without-spilling-tinytiptues-19/ for how to pour liquids without spilling them – you just put a spoon or chopstick over the bottle you are trying to pour the liquid into and the liquid clings to it apparently (I haven’t actually tried it though) – but maybe it will help for next time 🙂

    • Thanks as ever for your comments. Yes, I should just reduce the sugar and mess around with the recipe until I get something suitable! I really need to sit down and plan their snacks, otherwise I just end up reaching for ‘convenience’ foods, albeit as healthy as I can find. I think I’m destined to spend my life at the cooker until they are fully grown!

      Good tip about the spoon! I keep meaning to get a funnel, so much I decant ends up on my floor…

  3. Great post! I laughed about the spilling of the laundry liquid and the resulting suds in the machine – I have had a similar thing happen to me! I definitely recommend you invest in a (metal) funnel – I still have spillages decanting bulk buy things into jars, but far less now : )

    Are you allergic to seeds too? What about using jojoba or rosehip oil as a moisturiser? (Just the straight oil) They usually come in glass bottles (I get mine from a local lady who makes her own toiletries and she refiills empty bottles too). There are fancy brands out there with fancy prices, but if you shop around you should find something not too expensive. Hemp seed oil is another one. And you only need a really small amount, oil is not like lotions.

    As usual, I love your enthusiasm and optimism! : )

    • Thanks for your lovely comment! It’s great to think that’s how I might be coming over – I’m not sure my other half would always agree that’s what I’m like 😉

      I’m not allergic to seeds so that’s very welcome advice. Taking nuts out of beauty products can be a problem (especially when I’m voluntarily eliminating plastic!)

      Yes, I really MUST get a funnel!!

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