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Plastic free Lent: #3

Day 6: After feeling pointless about plasticless yesterday decided attempting to go totally plastic free is naive, unhelpful, unattainable and possibly undesirable. Instead have decided to focus in a Ghandi-esque fashion on that which I can change, not that which I cannot and also cut myself some slack and think about changes I have already made. I mean I used cloth nappies and wipes with twins for goodness sake so I should just get some perspective.

Things we no longer use (pre plastic free Lent): drinking straws (have steel ones no creepy crawlies found in them … yet), steel/silicon containers for lunches/food storage, steel water bottles, “who gives a crap” toilet paper in bulk and paper, toiletries – we’ve all pretty much given up shower gel, shampoo and conditioner (although there a big thing of Dr Bronners knocking about hardly used and we had to have conditioner when we were hit by dreaded nits at Christmas), washing powder (use soap nuts), bulk buying washing up liquid and reusing containers, making own moisturiser/using coconut oil (in glass), using washable wipes instead of kitchen towel, making own peanut butter (although the plastic containers were quite useful for no.1 child’s slime making “business”), using reusable/cotton bags (with the exception of Ocado but I just give the old bags back so….), moving to glass food packaging eg for oils where possible, using washable nappies and wipes, changing milk supply to milkman who uses glass bottles, making own bread in bread maker, making snacks etc where possible, fruit/veg delivery via Riverford, using Pact coffee delivery which is in recyclable paper pouches, shopping at local health food store who wraps loose items in compostable cellophane, buying in bulk where we can. Phew. No wonder I am knackered.

Changes made so far for plastic less Lent: increase milk delivery to avoid plastic bottles, made yoghurt, contemplating making mozzarella “for fun” with eldest (does this count as a change?! will it be fun??), will try local bring your own and weigh shop – what is the name for that??

I should feel positive but still feel like I am failing. Things that are still causing head scratching that I want to change: less plastic wrapped meat and fish. Farmer’s market is not going to work for us on this one. Less plastic cheeese. Is cheese wheel really an option? Maybe I should be less “selective” – is it easier if I decide not have organic stuff. What is better? Brain feels like it might pop at this point so decide to stop thinking and go out.

Head to local health food shop which sells things by weight Veg Hut .Success! Manage to get loose pasta, not quite the shape that I wanted but hey let’s not be picky it’s still pasta and bran flakes (think they are vaguely healthy and organic) all sold loose. AND milk in glass bottles.  It is ridiculously cheap too. I’m almost embarrassed to pay on a card. Sort of blow it by visiting local health food shop on way home and bulk buying tinned tomatoes which come in cardboard tray wrapped in plastic but am sure its recyclable.

So feel marginally more positive. Organic weigh shop could definitely work despite the longish walk.  Worth going with large sacks!

Day 7: Am at work. This has to be easier.  I have a regular coffee catch-up in the morning but we always drink in. So no plastic. Take my own lunch in steel lunchboxes we’ve had for ages. Again no plastic. Try to ignore two items of post that have come in plastic wrappers. Also have less time to think (despair) about sea of plastic still entering the house.

Day 8:  In work again so have less time to focus on plastic stress. And a result – enter Waitrose armed with a tupperware for fish. Assistant looks slightly bemused and asks me where I am going to store it dutifully puts salmon in the container. Yay!  I could definitely do this regularly on my way to work provided I remember the container. Now wondering about bag of frozen veg. Wrapper says they are LDPE4 which is recyclable. Google tells me some councils do some don’t.  Attempt to find out if my local council does, via my phone, whilst attempting to get children to bed and shielding the screen. This is not successful. Web site is labyrinthine and contradictory. Children keep waking up and complaining about the light. Bad parenting as remember all the literature about blue screens before bed causing lack of sleep etc etc.  Decide to keep happily chucking frozen food bags into recycling anyway.

Day 9: Oh no, happily chucking things into the recycling is NOT the way to go. Turns out much of the stuff I was binning isn’t recyclable and could cause whole load to be discarded. ARGH. Butter wrappers aren’t. Neither is plastic film. Or it might be. I find all this out through the brilliant, but sometimes equally depressing, plastic-less Lent facebook group I am on.  AND to make matters worse if you don’t rinse out your food items then that can also cause the whole load to be contaminated. Sigh.  Feel despairing. More knowledge is not leading to happiness.

Had to buy lunch today as was at an external meeting. Eshew individual wrapped teabags at meeting and cup of coffee on the way there to avoid plastic, opt for water from glass bottle. No lunch provided to head to a pret on way home. ONLY thing I can find not in plastic is a heated wrap.  Avoid crisps and tea as both in plastic. This has to be better for my bank balance and health. Good news is that pret use recycled plastic “glasses” in store. Bad news is that all the waste seems to go into one bin. Do they sort it for recycling?  Make a mental note to email them to ask when I have a spare moment (in about 10 years).  Disappointingly wrap is not full of the promised haloumi and falafel and gives me raging indigestion. Am really starting to wonder why on earth I did this plastic free thing.

Day 10: Children eat through my tub of bran flakes from the Veg Hut in about 10 seconds as a “snack” between other snacks. Hmmm. I will definitely need to take a sack if this is to be sustainable. Create a “plastic problems” list on the blackboard. Currently it consists of frozen fruit/veg; meat; fish; cheese; wheatabix. I fear it will grow and that is not including things like “wrappers” or lids” on glass jars. I am quietly ignoring Discover that Aldi wheat biscuits come in paper but local Aldi is not really “local” at all. Perhaps I could just travel there and buy wheat biscuits by the buggy load.  Am starting to think that not having a car and attempting to be plastic free are bizarrely incompatible. There’s a lot of time, effort and research in this.

Day 11: Its Saturday again and the pitiful Ocado order arrives. Have relented on cheese for now but not on meat. Partner looks mournful but agrees to go to local butchers to see if he can get meat not wrapped in plastic. This is a success! Meat is not organic and he can’t find out where it comes from but comes in paper and they put it in the container.  Start to feel like it is a constant trade off.

Have total tea bag fail. Those tea bags that don’t come in any form of plastic seem to all contain plastic in the bags themselves. Bags that I thought just came in cardboard packet are shrink wrapped in plastic. Buy some ridiculously expensive chamomile tea bags thinking I am avoiding plastic to find they are in cardboard packaging surrounding a plastic bag. ALL herbal tea bags seem to think a plastic window is necessary for you to view the bag – why, why?! I know what a chamomile tea bag looks like thank you. Brain starts to melt when you add in wish to buy fair trade and/or organic.  It is a constant trade off. Start to contemplate tea leaves through the silent weeping. Son takes pity on me and says “its ok Mummy, I know you can’t touch plastic during Lent so I’ll put the packets in the bin for you”.

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