We are now a week into Plastic Free Feb. I hadn’t prepared for this challenge in advance, instead I pretty much just jumped on the wagon as it started. So how is it looking one week on?
Well… it is a lot harder than I initially thought!
I started off by taking note of where I use plastic, what comes in plastic when you buy food in the shop, what plastic we have around the house.
Turns out, it is absolutely everywhere!!
From ordering the kids milkshares when we’re out and forgetting to say “no thank you” to a plastic straw… to forgetting the reusable metal straws when meeting friends for a drink. From realising that most of the food in our fridge and freezer is wrapped in plastic… to really struggling to buy our usual food that isn’t wrapped in one, perhaps two layers of plastic in our usual supermarkets. And so much in between!
If you remembered from my previous post, Plastic Free Me suggested three different challenges to ease you into plastic free living. One of the first things you can focus on in Challenge 1, are plastic bags.
To me, this is one of the easiest one to follow. Growing up in France, and then living in Paris for a year whilst I was at uni, I was already used to having to bring my own bags to supermarkets and other places when food shopping. There have been odd times over the year that I forget to bring a bag, but I usually end up buying a resuable fabric bag then rather than a plastic one if I can. I don’t often forget bags nowadays. From big ones that standup in the trolley when I shop, to smaller ones that fold flat and small into my handbag for other forms of shopping, I feel pretty confident with this step now. The other steps however need a little more work from me!
Disposable Coffee Cups
Apart from one day where I had a takeaway coffee in a disposable cup, I’ve otherwise managed to always have a coffee in an actual cup by making myself drink it in rather than have it takeaway, or I’ve made sure I had my travel mug with me. I discovered these Contigo travel mugs on Amazon a few years ago and I’ve never looked back. They keep my drinks hot for hours which I love as I like my drinks really hot. They also have a lock system which makes them spill and leak proof (for anyone who knows me, you will know this is a big bonus as I easily spill food on myself… a lot!). Having found a mug that works for me and my lifestyle makes it a lot easier if I want to order a coffee when out. Having it in a travel mug also makes it a lot easier to handle when running around with the kids.
Although I did once see a barista preparing my coffee in a disposable cup before transferring the drink into my travel mug and placing the disposable cup in the bin once he finished with it. So much for avoiding waste!
This is a tricky one I find. I avoid buying drinks in plastic bottles when out and generally. The times I do is usually for the kids, but we always take refillable bottles of water with us when we’re out and the kids are used to drinking water which helps.
However we do drink a lot of milk, and easily go through 4 bottles of milk a week. I try and buy the bigger bottles but we still get through a lot. If we were staying in the UK, I would have looked to switch to glass bottles. I can’t see that I can get that in France but hopefully by going to markets and getting to know local farms and growers I can find a solution to this (as well as drinking less milk perhaps…).
Plastic bottles I find are also everywhere else in the house! From laundry, shampoo, conditioner, (actually make that most toiletries!) to household cleaning products, most come in plastic bottles. I think a solution is to look into more natural remedies perhaps? I recently discovered Moral Fibres on Instagram, and she’s got a new book out on the matter so will look into that 🙂
Toiletries wise, I’m slowing making changes. From using The Natural Deodorant, which comes in a glass jar and plastic–free packaging, to coconut oil which comes in a glass jar. I’ve found some hair products in glass jars also. But the vast majority of our bathroom shelf is still mostly plastic. From the shampoo bottles, to razors and various packaging for toilet paper, wipes and cotton wool balls, plastic is everywhere still.
On top of worrying about the packaging of my toiletries, I’ve found myself worrying about the contents of them. Specifically the ones I have with face scrub qualities as well as toothpaste, as the concern is then do these include microbeads? Other than stop using them straightaway, The Beat the Microbead website has lots of useful information in terms of what to look out for, from ingredients to brands and specific products, it’s a great place to find out more.
The Outcome So Far
I have a long (!) way to go before being plastic free. The aim for now, to make more consicous decisions when buying food and new products. I’m not sure whether I will live a 100% plastic-free life, but already, I can see there are loads of alternatives available to me for making changes in day to day life.
Being in the middle of moving houses has its’ pros and cons when trying to go plastic free, however I do feel it’s a great way to make a start and make a list on where to pick up less plastic in our new home in France.
On top on working on the above, I want to explore plastic-free alternatives to toilet paper (mainly the packagaging for it), sanitary products (did you know a sanitary towel takes over 500 years to decompose!) and ways to reduce plastic bottles in the household.