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!