Well, July is at an end, and so is the Marine Conservation Society’s Plastic Challenge. Did we get through the month avoiding single-use plastic?
The answer is: pretty much. There were a few exceptions: I failed to find an eco-friendly hair-dye, and I’m not ready to embrace the grey just yet. I’ll keep looking, but – in the meantime – there’ll be a small box full of plastic in our bathroom every month. We needed some wall fixings to secure a curtain rail, and all that were locally available came in plastic bags. We could have driven to a hardware store, but the fifty-minute round trip made it a not-so-green option. And we’re still buying butter in ‘foil’ packaging, although we know it’s not recyclable. We couldn’t find an alternative: the vegan spreads are all in plastic pots – and we do reuse the butter foil, for wrapping food we want to freeze.
Otherwise, we’ve managed. We couldn’t have done it without The Eco Larder, because a good zero-waste shop is crucial to plastic-free living. As predicted, salad leaves proved especially difficult to source. Most of the time we’ve done without, padding our salads with grated carrot or chopped cabbage. But, last week we realised that local greengrocer Global Fruits (not our usual choice) sometimes sells cos lettuce wrapper-free. We bought one, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
We’ve had to make most things from scratch, but – honestly – we’ve enjoyed that too. We like cooking anyway, so it’s been no hardship to pop our own corn instead of buying crisps, or to make our own chocolate-coated honeycomb instead of buying sweets. We even made our own breakfast cereal, which was a bit of a faff, but definitely worth it because it tastes divine.
Cheese was a bit of a worry, but we’ve started buying it from a local cheesemonger. It’s much more expensive than the supermarket stuff, but also far superior, so we’re just eating less of it. We’re making more hummus and guacamole to replace it, and of course, that’s better for us.
Which leads me to the surprise bonus of going plastic-free: we’ve both lost a fair bit of weight. We’ve not deliberately cut down, but I guess we’ve been more careful with the treats and sweets we’ve had (knowing how long it’s going to take to make a fresh batch is quite an incentive to take it easy with the current one). We’ve had zero ultra-processed foods, so we’re eating none of the hidden fats and sugars we used to consume unthinkingly.
Will we resume using single-use plastic now that the month is out? No way. This month has made us realise that we really can do this, and also just how desperately important it is. We’re committed now to eliminating single-use plastic from our lives.
I mean, drinking at the Edinburgh Fringe is going to be a challenge: there are plastic vessels everywhere. But we’ve got our charity-shop stainless-steel pint pots in our bags, and we’ll let you know how we get on.