5 Things I’ve Learnt From Going Plastic-Free
Did you see that David Attenborough documentary Blue Planet II about plastic pollution in the ocean? There’s this moment where a mummy albatross comes back to her nest with a belly full of food for her chicks and instead of squid, she’s only got plastic to feed her babies with. It really struck a chord with me and I decided to take the #plasticfreechallenge.
Here’s what I learnt from trying to live without plastic for a week…
1. It helps to start with the basics
So, take a tote bag shopping with you. I’ve got a gorgeous metallic rose gold one from MPB which is made of paper but it’s super-strong.
Next up: disposable coffee cups. I’ve only just started drinking coffee – gotta blame motherhood for that – so I’ve invested in a reusable Ecoffee cup which is made from bamboo, believe it or not. Also I discovered if you re-use a disposable cup at Pret, they give you 50p off your coffee.
Plastic water bottles are something I buy all the time but can easily live without – I swapped for a marble print S’well bottle made of stainless steel, which keeps my water nice and cool.
2. Eating mindfully goes up a whole new level
My normal grocery delivery had to go as it always arrives in countless carrier bags and then there’s the mountain of plastic packaging inside.
Fish was also off the menu as, thanks to David Attenborough, I learnt that eating seafood means you end up consuming up to 11,000 pieces of microplastic every year. Scary stuff.
I also cut out meat to avoid supermarket packaging, though in hindsight I suppose I could have gone to the butcher with my own greaseproof paper and tote bag to wrap it up in. Maybe I’ll try that in future.
3. Eggs, grains and veggies don’t need plastic packaging
For a moment I was like, “So what CAN I eat?”. Eggs were my saviour – I never appreciated before how amazing it is that they come in a cardboard box. Thanks, Clarence Court.
I bought lots of lovely loose veg like sweet potatoes and carrots from Waitrose – you have to go to a big supermarket for those though, as the little ones tend to only sell packaged fruit and vegetables. I also got a big wooden crate of bread, onions, butternut squash, kale and all sorts of other goodies delivered from Farmdrop too.
Then I discovered this fantastic zero-waste whole food store, Hetu in Clapham Junction where I went crazy buying quinoa, brown rice, lentils and dried fruit. If you bring a glass jar you can even buy freshly-blended nut butter – I think cashew butter is the yummiest thing ever.
The only things I really missed were berries and fresh green leafy stuff – do you know where I can get non-plastic salad bags? Or cardboard punnets of blueberries and strawberries?
4. Everything was going fine until I got my period
Of course my period arrived at a completely unexpected and awkward moment and I had to borrow a tampon that was wrapped in plastic, and with a plastic applicator too. When I posted about it on Instagram you gave me great tips for natural hygiene products that I’m totally stocking up on for next month, like Diva Cup, Natracare tampons, Mooncup and Thinx pads.
5. Being a plastic-free mum is almost impossible
I say ‘almost’ because I know some amazing mums live without plastic and, wow, kudos to them. But I can’t because: nappies! Wet wipes! It was so hard. Literally my biggest challenge ever.
Confession time: I caved. The ease of disposable nappies is just too tempting for me –I’m already steaming and puréeing everything in sight. Having one more thing to do makes me feel so overwhelmed. My compromise was trying to do nappy changes with a maximum of three wipes. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes… not so much!
OK, so I can’t live plastic-free forever, but I’ve definitely become more conscious. Consuming less is one of my New Year’s resolutions, so I’m going to try to keep up my good intentions in 2018. And I’d love to get involved in a paddleboarding litter-pick down the Thames or beach clear-up, maybe on my favourite Isle of Wight beaches.
Why don’t you try your own plastic free challenge? Let me know how you get on in the comments and tag me on Instagram – I always love hearing what you’re up to.