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.


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!


23 thoughts on “Day 8: Plastic Free July 2014

  1. This is just great. I have a recyling bin stuffed full of unnecessary packaging lurking in the corner of the kitchen, but you’ve inspired me to try (a lot!) harder…Tho I don’t think I can manage plastic free yet. Baby steps…:)

  2. Great post! I think you’re right to focus on the positives and it’s encouraging me to rethink about my plastics. Off to have a think about what single use plastics I can eliminate. 🙂

  3. Wow, you are doing such a good job! You really are taking extra steps to reduce your plastic footprint.

    Getting rid of plastic in tea bags is one of the first things our guest blogger Jildou did when embarking on her plastic-free journey:

    I am currently based in China. Plastic-free tea leaves are easy to find here. Let us know how your trip to the tea store went. Looking forward to reading your next post.

  4. I think you are right… anything that you make yourself can have less plastic associated with it, but anything pre-prepared seems to be covered in the stuff.
    Can’t believe I didn’t think of Whittard’s for tea… we don’t have one round here, but lots of people do have access to one.
    Keep up the good work and do focus on the positives – you are ARE making a real difference.

    • Thanks! I’m quite enjoying myself. I didn’t think of Whittards either at first, hence the reason they were down my list. Don’t think there are as many branches as there used to be- maybe Plastic Free July will cause them to spring up again!

  5. Your post has come at just the right time as I am beginning to realise that plastic free food shopping is SO hard (or impossible). You’re right to focus on the positives and the little things that we can achieve this month. I’m trying to look at it as a learning lesson for us all. For example now I’ve picked up your tip about Whittards I’ll definitely pay them a visit.

    • Great, delighted to hear that! I think if other people know about the plastic in tea bags, they’ll switch to loose as well! Have just tweeted a few companies to try and confirm whether they use plasticisers, will report back on the blog!

  6. Sounds like you are doing well!

    That stinks about tea bags… who’d have thought eh!?!?!

    One comment that worries me slightly is the “Getting into the centre of Edinburgh to execute this purchase is going to be one big hassle”… is this not a false economy? Aside from being worried about the plastic melting and you drinking it (which it shouldn’t as it’s heat resistant), then the plastic saved would surely be offset by extra carbon emmisions and so on by your journey in, even if using public transport? I am going to hazard a guess that you’ve already thought of this and considered the trade off worth it still (biking all the way in for example?), but just wondered what your thoughts on that particular aspect of things like this are.

    There are many organic, enviro-friendly, sustainable, ethical products about that are just too impractical to get hold of without a lot of extra effort in driving to places (too far to bike etc…) that it just seems like a false economy to me. I’ve started thinking (very briefly) about food co-ops, food clubs, etc where people can drive to get multiple orders, but again it’s all a right old hassle when it comes down to it. For the really driven people like yourself who don’t mind the extra hassle to do their bit in saving the planet this is fine, but for the other 99% people who are “just too busy” with their little lives (like me I guess!) to do stuff like that then we aren’t even going to make a dent into what needs to be done. This is coming across as a little negative but it isn’t, but I am wholly positive about what you are doing for PFJ let me just say that now… I realise that the seeds of change start with small movements and gradually as they get bigger they become mainstream, and eventually giant companies and coorporations take notice and start to build their products and services around the ethos of such movements (look at MacDonalds phasing out polystyrene burger containers however many years ago in favour of cardboard ones for example). So power to the people and all that! I guess I am just saying I wish I could fast forward to the world where all of this has already happened, I can nip 5 minutes down the road and my local Lidl is now just a bulk buy store with reusable pots stacked up and bags waiting to put all my fresh fruit, veg, dry goods, and so on into!!!

    On that note, have you done much pestering of companies for plastic free packaging? I know Zoe at ETL has written about that sort of thing before. I might focus my efforts on that sort of area going forward, as well as just generally trying to avoid plastic where possible of course, as long as it doesn’t involve too much time or effort 🙂

    • Argh! I’ve just typed out a big reply and it’s disappeared! Anyway, briefly I’ll do it again! Many thanks for all of your comments.

      I have thought about the issue of transport, petrol etc for plastic-free stuff and as a result I’ve not done some journeys! You’re right. You’ve got to find a balance. I do intend to visit Whittards though as I’m in Edinburgh every now and again – the problem with that shop is that it’s a bit awkward for me to get to and really small for the kids to come in too. I do want plastic-free tea though so I’m gonna try it!

      I just tweeted out a post earlier about writing to companies (will tweet you it in a minute). I’m not great at doing this and must do it more often. I tweeted a few tea companies tonight to ask fi they have plasticisers in their tea. Will update the blog if and when I get answers!

      Thanks again for all of the time you spent on this!

  7. Pingback: Day 18: Plastic Free July 2014 | westywrites

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