|If you want to shop plastic free you need to be prepared|
I wasn't intending to give up anything for Lent this year. But then I picked up a tweet from City to Sea Bristol encouraging people to give up single use plastic - bags, wrappers, cups etc - the kind that cannot be reused and go straight into the bin. Being a sucker for challenges, and having just returned from Cornwall, where I'd been shocked by the volume of plastic waste washed up by the storm, I signed up on the spot.
Day 1 - Ash Wednesday: We had friends round for dinner and I'd decided on an aubergine and potato curry, dal and rice. I found most of the vegetables in one of our local greengrocers but had to go on to Lidl for unwrapped aubergine, and abandon the fresh coriander garnish. We'd had to cancel our doorstep delivery while we were away so I needed to pick up a couple of pints of milk. I tried a number of shops but couldn't find any variety that didn't come packaged in plastic, even if it was just the lid on a tetrapak. So I had to give in and buy a 2 pint bottle.
Day 2: The easiest way to stay plastic free is to buy nothing. At this point I should point out that the challenge only applies to stuff bought in Lent. Much of the food on my shelves, the clothes in my wardrobe, the toiletries in my bathroom etc came packaged in plastic. I've challenged myself to seek out alternatives, if they are available and, if not, to make my own ... or consider doing without.
Looking ahead, we're shortly going to run out of toilet tissue. An initial recce has turned up only one possible option - an Andrex 2-roll-pack wrapped in paper. It's in Poundland alongside 4/6-roll-packs for the same price. All the others, including one by EnviroSoft, are packaged in plastic film. I have, however, been given details of two shops where I should be able to lay my hands on a plastic free loo rolls.
- Buy your fruit and vegetables from a local greengrocer where you're more likely to be able to buy single unpackaged items.
- Invest in reuseable shopping bags. I use an Onya Orignal and and an Onya Weigh for my fruit and vegetables.
- Have your milk delivered. We use milk&more who are undoubtedly more expensive than any of our local supermarkets, but it keeps the milkman in a job and eliminates plastic. A little while ago milk&more did threaten to switch from glass but happily there's been no sign of this yet.
- Grow your own herbs. I've had mixed results with this. Rosemary, sage, bay, thyme and parsley have all thrived, but I've failed dismally with two of my favourites, basil and coriander. Asian stores are the best bet for unwrapped bunches, generally at much lower prices than supermarkets.
- Ask for advice and share your experiences. It was a tweet that prompted the recommendations on where to find loo rolls.