There are loads of tips out there on how we can reduce our plastic footprint:
Reaching the Zen of Zero Waste | HowStuffWorks
Can You Imagine A Supermarket With No Plastic?
How To Live Green Without Depriving Yourself - mindbodygreen
Indeed, this blog has posted a few:
Futures Forum: Join the Drastic Plastic Mission!
Futures Forum: Plastic-free aisles
Futures Forum: Weaning ourselves off convenient squeezy plastic bottles
Futures Forum: The truth about plastic: how to cure our addiction
Futures Forum: Less plastic: refuse, reuse, reduce
Futures Forum: Plastic: can you live without it?
Futures Forum: Plastic-free shopping
Futures Forum: Plastic-free supermarkets
Here's a story of one person who's tried in Plymouth last month:
I tried lasting a week without buying plastic - and it was harder than I thought - Plymouth Herald
And another in Swansea:
I tried to spend a week without plastic - here's what happened
It wasn't easy...
Megan Griffiths 1 APR 2018
In the wake of lots of restaurants and clubs getting rid of straws and the phenomena that was Blue Planet 2, I decided to take a long, hard look at my plastic habit.
I am a self-confessed plastic hoarder, user and waster. My top drawer at work is filled to the brim with plastic cutlery to save on washing up and I wouldn’t think twice about buying food covered pointlessly in the white hard stuff.
I started to realise how much I contribute to landfill with un-recycled plastic so I declared that I would spend a week without plastic.
My office plastic cutlery drawer of shame
This declaration was quickly met with my colleagues and Facebook friends pointing out all the things I would have to change in my life.
“What are you going to do about toothpaste?” my colleague Katie asked. “How are you going to pay for your non-plastic items? You can’t use a card or new money,” said one of my Facebook friends helpfully.
So it was time to establish some ground rules. I would of course be using money, going plastic free is not a cheap thing to do. I would also continue to wear my plastic glasses, drive my plastic lined car and drink from my plastic reusable bottle.
I wanted to work to get rid of single use plastic and make my life less wasteful. The main rule was that if in the near future it would be thrown away, I couldn’t use it.
I thought of this idea on a Wednesday and planned to start the following week, but I needed more time to plan how the process was going to work. So, all in all, it took me about to a week and a half to get all my ducks in a row and deliveries in order.
I had to find replacements for the following toiletries and consumables; toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, moisturiser, razor and loo roll.
CLICK TO PLAY SWANSEA FOOD ASSEMBLY
I also had to work out where I was going to buy food for the week from. I had resigned myself to not wearing makeup for the time, as there was no way I was going to find alternatives in time and it was a good excuse to have a bit more of a lie-in in the morning.
I put the call out on my Facebook page to find people that could help with the food situation and an old friend of mine told me her brother had just started a plastic free food venture in Swansea. Very convenient.
The Food Assembly in Swansea at Bluebell Coffee and Kitchen... Alex and Erin Bodinger of Pwys Plastic Free
Husband and wife team Alex Bodinger and Elen Richards have started a company called Pwys(pound in Welsh) where they sell completely plastic free cereal, pasta, rice and cleaning product refills. They run a stall at Swansea Food Assembly , which a complete god send this week. The couple have also been on the plastic free journey for the past five years.
Dismay as council replaces biodegradable food waste bags with plastic sacks
The Food Assembly is a website where you can order your food online from 21 local producers. The food travels on average 12 miles to get to your basket at a weekly collection. The collection in Swansea usually takes place on Tuesday evenings at Bluebell Cafe in Sketty.
I ordered my food for the week, which included milk in glass bottles, homemade burgers wrapped in paper, a fresh loaf of sourdough bread, pasta, rice, tomatoes and vegetables.
This is why you need to remember reusable bags
Unfortunately, some of the vegetables were wrapped partly in biodegradable plastic when I picked them up. I already felt as though I had failed. However, the veggies came from Blaencamel Farm, a completely sustainable farm, which is still lots better that getting food from a supermarket.
When trying to get my food home, I encountered my first problem, I hadn’t brought any reusable bags with me. Idiot. I ended up having to make 4/5 trips back to the cafe to get all the food in the car and had to clear out my CDs to make room for glass milk bottles in the cup holders.
The Food Assembly in Swansea at Bluebell Coffee and Kitchen... Megan Griffiths at the Fforest Isaf Farm Eggs stall
Megan Griffiths with some of her plastic free shopping
The food shop did cost lots more than I would usually spend on food in a week, but the food was so much better. The flavours, the quality and the freshness were all outstanding.
Elen, from Pwys, at the Swansea Food Assembly, is an ecologist by day, and gave me some fantastic tips along the way. She said: “I use fabric bags that you can buy online for produce in the supermarket.”
I have now bought some produce bags to make it easier to get my fresh groceries without plastic.
A plastic free meal. Lavabread burgers in a crusty roll topped with black bomber cheese and an egg, with a side of homemade chips, roasted tomatoes and crispy kale
Elen also informed me that some every-day products that I hadn’t even thought about contained plastic: “The average household sponge is made from plastic and even tea bags have plastic in the glue that holds them together.”
CLICK TO PLAY
THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR PLASTIC AFTER YOU PUT IT IN THE RECYCLING BIN
Thank goodness I don’t drink tea! But somehow plastic, in the last few decades, has managed to seep into every corner of our lives and we even emit plastic when we wash our synthetic clothes.
Some products from Lush to help me with go plastic free
I swapped my usual bottle of shampoo and conditioner for bars from Lush, where I also managed to find a deodorant and a moisturiser. One of the disappointing things was that the razor and the toothpaste arrived completely unnecessarily wrapped in plastic.
Toothpaste in a jar - wrapped in plastic
Showers took slightly longer as I have long thick hair, but the products from Lush were great and made my hair feel really healthy and fresh.
The deodorant was...different, I’m not sure if I would stick to the powdery bar after this week, but I will be on the hunt for an alternative.
I replaced my toothbrush for a bamboo one with carbon bristles and the toothpaste, which came in a glass jar, was made from coconut oil and bicarbonate soda. The first time I used the toothpaste I nearly threw up all over the bathroom, the wet cement-like texture takes a lot of getting used to, and I really missed that minty fresh feeling.
The Food Assembly in Swansea at Bluebell Coffee and Kitchen... The Little Valley Bakery
In terms of razors, I changed my trusty plastic-handled disposable one for an old-school metal safety razor and a pack of razor blades. The razor blades are meant to last lots longer than disposable ones, it gave a much closer shave, but it was like learning all over again. One night I nicked my ankle and didn’t stop bleeding for an hour, but all for the environment, aye!
I managed to get loo roll from an online shop called Who Gives a Crap. They sell toilet rolls in bulk without any plastic packaging and also plant lots of trees.
The actual week of being plastic free didn’t feel like too much sacrifice with the right products around me. The hardest thing was not to eat crisps. Can someone please make crisps that come in a paper bag? Hippies everywhere will love you forever.
Greggs was a saviour for lunch, as it was normally, but there are lots of things you can get there that just come in a paper bag. At other shops I also asked if they could give me a paper bag rather than plastic and lots of places were happy to oblige, especially in Swansea Market.
Cake in a paper bag rather than a plastic container. Squashed cake tastes the same
I collected any plastic that I did happen to use over the course of the week and it was significantly less than normal. By the end of the experiment there was; plastic that wrapped the vegetables, plastic from the razor and toothpaste, four pieces of post, some tablets and a straw. The straw really annoyed me.
On the Saturday I went out for food with friends and took along my trusty reusable straw. I ordered a drink and asked for no straw, but my request was not heard. My drink arrived with a straw and it was another kick in the teeth for the experiment.
We are surrounded by the hard and soft stuff that it has become automatic for so many.
This week I received an unprecedented amount of charity donation sacks in the post, and one brochure about plastic wrapped in, you guessed it, plastic.
Three plastic bags that arrived throught the post in one day
My plastic free guru Erin suggested that I return the charity sacks and adverts to sender and eventually they would get the hint.
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RESULTS OF MY WEEK WITHOUT PLASTIC
Lots of bars are switching to biodegradable plastic straws, but this can still be a problem as it still wouldn’t degrade fast enough by the time it reaches the ocean, the best way to go is paper, or grow up and don’t have one.
A leaflet about plastic, wrapped in plastic, sent to taunt me
Out of all of the plastic that is made, only 9% is recycled, 12% is incinerated and 79% goes to landfills.
I have to admit that one of the first things I did after the week was over, was buy a bag of Quavers, but I have also vowed to make some changes.
No more will I use my plastic cutlery drawer of sin, I will slowly try and replace some of my shopping staples for better alternatives such as glass ketchup bottles, refillable cleaning products and a reusable coffee cup (even the ‘paper’ ones aren’t recyclable!).
As more people start to become more plastic aware I’m hoping that product developers and supermarkets will come on board to make a world without plastic far more of a convenience.
If you want to transition in to using less plastic I recommend making a list of the everyday products that you use, which can be replaced with better options, and slowly buy alternatives.
Going plastic free isn’t something that is going to happen overnight, but every small change makes a difference.
Tips for living with less plastic
1. Bring your own shopping bag
2. Carry a reusable water bottle
3. Bring your own coffee cup
4. Pack your lunch in reusable containers
5. Say no to disposable cutlery and straws
6. Buy fabric or reusable produce bags to use in the supermarkets
7. Store left overs in glass jars
8. Get your milk delivered in glass bottles
9. Make your own cleaning products out of vinegar, lemon and bicarbonate soda
10. Use a razor with replaceable blades
11. Swap bottles of toiletries for bars
I tried to spend a week without plastic - here's what happened - Wales Online