Monday, 30 May 2011

Plastic, plastic, everywhere

After a few weeks with no internet connection I'm finally back online - so hopefully I can get some semblance of regularity back to my blogging! I am now officially settled in London: new house, new job, and phone and internet connection, yay. Now I can get back to these green missions with my complete attention.

So back to my last mission - to go plastic free...

Rule number 1: Never go food shopping when you're hungry. Now this is a general rule that should be followed at all times, but if you try this while going plastic-free you'll realise that it takes on a whole new level of importance. Why? Because everything that is ready-to-eat comes in plastic. And I mean everything. The one exception to that rule in the supermarket seems to be chocolate blocks in their lovely paper wrapping. Not an ideal healthy snack option, but I did resort to this when I broke rule number 1 on my first shopping outing.

So on the supermarket run what can you buy? I mostly stuck to canned foods (veges, beans, fish etc), things that come in jars (all standard spices, sauces etc), and things in paper packaging (baking essentials, chocolate). I did purchase some fresh produce as well, but here I find that even most fresh fruit and veges come in some plastic. I'm going to start exploring the local markets over the next few weeks to see if I can find some 'naked' alternatives there. So after rule number 1, what else did I learn about going plastic free?

Rule #2. Never buy coffee on the run. Yes, it's possible to get takeaway coffees without a plastic lid, or in your own travel mug... But for myself I've just decided on a general rule that if I want a shop bought coffee I'll drink it at the shop.
Rule #3. Always check that you have a reusable bag with you before you leave the house. I used to always do the 'phone, keys, wallet' check before heading out, but now I've expanded it to 'phone, keys, wallet, foldup bag' check. If you don't take it with you, you are bound to need something last minute and like me - may end up on the bus ride home with a dangerous carton of eggs in your very expensive handbag.
Rule#4. Not so much a rule but a tip - keep an eye out for foods that package themselves: such as bananas, pumpkins, and onions that are simply sold in their own skin.

But mostly over and above everything else I learned on this mission was just how plastic has invaded every part of our lives. Living plastic-free permanently in this society would take constant effort and planning. The couple of times I did slip up on this mission were simply moments of oversight where I didn't even think about the plastic content of an item I was buying. I'm committed to keep trying to limit my plastics as much as possible though - and I'm more impressed than ever by those people who can manage to cut plastic almost completely from their lives (check out My Plastic Free Life).

Now for this week I'm setting myself a challenge that I'm particularly dreading (don't judge me for this one). I confessed right from the beginning that I loved shiny new things - that's a big part of my not-green problem. Now that I'm all moved into my new house, there are a few extra bits and pieces that I need to get fully set up. So to avoid buying more new stuff, my mission this week is to go second-hand shopping.

Now second hand shopping is not something I should dread, but as a lover of new stuff, I find old musty second hand stores a bit scary! I'm the first to admit that it's a bit ridiculous, so I'm out to over-turn my preconceptions about buying 'pre-loved' this week.

If anyone has any good second-hand shopping tips (or knows good stores in London!) then do let me know.


  1. I laughed when I read the part about the eggs in your expensive handbag. Well done you for not taking a plastic bag even at the risk of endangering your purse! I've never done the no plastic challenge, though I've managed to get out of farmers' markets with a whole bag of food and no plastic. If the markets around you wrap their produce in plastic, why not say something to whoever runs the produce department?

    I actually quite like thrift store shopping, though it can take longer for what you want to show up. I don't know if the UK has Craigslist or an equivalent, but I use it if I'm looking for something fairly particular (like a floor lamp or area rug). Freecycle, if it exists over the pond, is also useful (and free). Good luck!

  2. Thank you Jennifer! I don't know why I hadn't thought about second-hand shopping online, that is something I did alot of back home. I'll have a seach around what UK has to offer - I'm sure they'll have something.

    And you're right about talking to the supermarket, campaigning businesses is definitely another thing I need to get better at doing.

    Maybe that needs to be one of my future missions :)

  3. Great idea to try to avoid unnecessary plastic when shopping! Don't forget, however, that consuming a purely plant-based diet does far more to help the environment than buying fish and eggs (or meat and dairy) however they are packaged!

  4. Absolutely, and I'm quite a way down that journey now too. I limit myself to eggs, and the odd can of salmon - but am now mostly vegetarian. I'm lactose intolerant so luckily dairy isn't an issue!

    Your site looks great, I'll have to check out some of the recipes!