My wife Sarah and I were inspired to give the Marine Conservation Society’s Plastic-Free July challenge a go. Instead of trying to drive every last piece of plastic from our lives, we focused on making a few lifestyle changes that might stand the test of time.
Here’s what is still working for us three months later…
1. Wonky veg
Crazy that all of this is “too wonky” to be sold in supermarkets!
Unless you only eat peppers, carrots and broccoli, finding veg in supermarkets that isn’t wrapped in single-use plastic is a real challenge. However, there are now loads of veg box options, which deliver tasty stuff straight to your door with zero or minimal plastic. We signed up to Oddbox and would highly recommend it. It’s a social enterprise which collects wonky veg that would otherwise be thrown away and re-routes it direct to people’s homes. Some surplus stuff still comes in plastic bags but you can opt out of that if you like. Our £8.99 box does the two of us nicely for the week and you get to giggle at the funny-shaped carrots. It’s left in a safe place in the middle of the night, avoiding the hassle of having to be in for the delivery.
2. Goodbye clingfilm, hello beeswax paper
Clingfilm is such a habit and it’s amazing how easily we could do without it once we banned it from the house. Doing so made us cover things in the microwave with another plate; or put food in (multi-use) Tupperware in the fridge. Best of all is beeswax paper, which you use like clingfilm but it can be rinsed and used again and again. It also smells like honey. There are loads of options available or you can make your own. We chickened out of that and bought this one, which is all we need and is still going strong.
3. Who Gives A Crap
They even come in pretty wrappers!
We just couldn’t find toilet paper that didn’t come in a plastic wrapper – even recycled paper from the supermarket was wrapped in plastic! So we went a bit left-field and signed-up to Who Gives A Crap, a social enterprise which makes sustainable toilet paper, uses no plastic and gives 50% of its profits to charity. Their CEO is a bit of a dude too, he sat on a toilet for days until their crowd-funding target was met. They keep prices sensible by having bigger rolls and delivering in bulk. That’s a bit of a faff but we found space for 48 rolls in our small flat. We opted for the premium bamboo paper as found the basic stuff was a bit flimsy!
4. Be proud of your lunchbox
It feels a bit awkward at first but actually most cafes are happy to fill lunchboxes rather than wrapping lunches in fresh plastic every day. It also stopped us going to Tesco and Pret and instead we have sought out more local, independent places. We realised that if we used the same lunchboxes for a year it would save at least 480 lunch-worths of packaging… We just used old plastic Tupperware but there are fancy bamboo options available if you don’t already have some lying around. Oh and obviously we made sure to use metal cutlery from the office too!
5. Make some noise
Not sure this wrapper is good enough to keep for 200 years…
When we started paying attention to it, we found single-use plastic in all kinds of strange places. Why is the bag for M&S Colin The Caterpillar sweets non-recyclable for example? I mean I like Colin as much as the next person but it makes me uncomfortable thinking that the bag I used for 5 minutes will exist for the next 200 years. So when we found things like this we decided to tweet the companies responsible and ask them what was going on. Some had good answers; others didn’t. Either way, we had added to the noise asking for them to change.
I’d love to know what you think of these ideas and hear your suggestions for what else we can do…