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Plastic Free July – is it possible to avoid single-use plastic for one week?

July 22nd, 2017 Posted by Blogs, Newsletter No Comment yet

As part of Plastic Free July, Kate Chambers tried to avoid single-use plastics for one week. Here’s how she got on…

 

PREPPING

Avoiding single-use plastics for one week was going to take planning. I knew that a last minute dash to the supermarket was out of the question, as everything is wrapped in plastic film. My veggies were taken care of – each week, I order an organic vegetable box from East Coast Organics. This gets delivered to my office, and every Thursday I look forward to seeing what locally-grown goodies I’m going to eat.

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Last week’s veg box, all free of single-use plastic (East Coast Organics take back the plastic container for reuse!)

But one box of veggies wasn’t going to cut it. I headed off to the supermarket in search of plastic-free produce. All the most delicious things (chocolate, sweets, butter, CHEESE!) were off limits but I was pleasantly surprised to find some glass jars and cardboard packaging hidden amongst the plastic. On the walk home, I popped into the Indian supermarket just along from my flat, and found loads of great herbs and vegetables – all packaging free!

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Plastic-free haul

I had lots of lovely beetroot (see my veg box above!), so decided to rustle up some beetroot hummus…

…which turned out much tastier than expected, and was a favourite throughout the office on Monday. I’d been given a bunch of homegrown rhubarb from my boyfriend’s mum, and I decided to make this into a (very basic) rhubarb and ginger jam. Again, I was shocked by how good it was – no modesty here! I ate this all week, on homemade bread and with my morning porridge.

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EATING

No amount of plastic was going to stop me enjoying my food. I was determined not to give up good grub along with the single-use plastic. And I quickly realised I didn’t really have to. My office have two large fruit baskets delivered each week, so there was plenty of natural sugar to keep me going…

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There were also lots of apples and pears left over from the previous delivery so the whole lot went straight home with me, and I made poached pears and apple compote…

I realised that I was much less wasteful. I made far more of an effort to use every ingredient, when I would usually be snacking on convenience food like crisps and sweets.

Each night, I was looking forward to making my dinner, always excited to see what I could rustle up from limited ingredients.

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The beginning of beetroot risotto

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Zero-waste lunch in the sunshine – hummus, bread & kedgeree

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Tasty! & NO PLASTIC!

 

LIVING

Things were going well, and I didn’t feel like I was missing out too much. I realised that there are plenty of nice chocolates that are wrapped in foil and cardboard, so this satisfied my very sweet tooth. I really missed tea! But I decided to go cold turkey, since teabags are made with plastic. However, it wasn’t until halfway through the week that I discovered some more expensive tea brands, such as Pukka are in fact plastic-free, so I could have the odd cuppa again! Good times. It wasn’t until Friday morning that my regular shampoo (packaged in a plastic bottle!) ran out… until now I had only focused on food and drink, but I had to think more carefully about my cosmetics. I decided to buy a shampoo bar, which I am loving so far!

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WHAT I LEARNED:

  • Making stuff is fun. Once I realised that I had to make all my meals from scratch, I got really into it. I would spend any free minute looking up recipes, and thinking about how I could use up all my plastic-free ingredients. I was a lot more creative in the kitchen, and the quality of my cooking improved.
  • My diet improved. I have never eaten so much fruit and veg in my life! Almost all sweet treats were off limits, since most chocolate and biscuits are packaged in plastic. Suddenly, I was snacking on fruit and high quality chocolate (which tends to be packaged in card/foil)
  • Local is best. I was encouraged to use all the small businesses near my flat. The Indian supermarket next to my flat sells high quality veg and herbs, all loose. The fishmonger was happy to put everything into my reusable glass container, rather than using plastic wrap/bags.
  • Plastic is everywhere! And it’s difficult to avoid. Even my glass jars of peanut butter was sealed with non-recyclable plastic. This is frustrating when you have gone to the effort of seeking plastic alternatives.

 

Kate Chambers

2050’s Communications Chair 

@rarerthanbooks

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