Peaking too soon and going in the wrong direction

Plastic Free July is just around the corner and right now I’m feeling particularly unenthusiastic about the whole thing (don’t worry though, I’m writing this blog post to cheer myself up about it, as I will feel better once I’ve written about it 🙂 )
A few weeks ago I was in a totally different place.  I was determined to throw a zero waste birthday party for my son (read more about how it went here and how I did it here) and I put a lot of effort into making it happen.  In fact having put so much effort into making the party zero waste I wanted to keep going with it.  I wanted to produce as little waste as possible, plus it was all good preparation for Plastic Free July.  I was feeling really enthusiastic and passionate about it!
That was all great, but what I didn’t do was look a little further into the future and work out how I was going to be zero waste / single use plastic free over the next few weeks (and did I mention avoid supermarkets and try to stick to the Paleo diet ish???).  Normally I would be at home and it would be easy (ok easier), but the weekend after the party I went to Bath on a four day hen weekend.  Then the weekend after that I went on a camping trip with families from my son’s school and the night after the camping trip we had a foreign student arrive to stay with us.  In between times I went to PTA meetings, met up with friends in the evenings and went to the Observer Ethical Awards (read more here).  I went from one trip to another with no time in between to think about anything (and very limited time for blogging).  I just managed to finish making a dress before I left the house wearing it to the Observer Ethical Awards, I just managed to fit in a trip to the grocers so I could pick up some unpackaged food for the hen weekend and there was no way we were going to make it for the exact start time of the camping trip.  I barely managed to clear out the room for the student and couldn’t have done it without help from my husband…
All that rushing around though meant that I made silly mistakes / intentional errors and my standards seriously went downhill.  In fact some I found hilarious and some I was in floods of tears over.
OK the one I cried about – although my Twitter friends probably already know about this one:
Feeling really proud of myself for going to the grocers to buy unpackaged fruit and veg to take with me on the hen weekend, I didn’t notice that after taking the ice packs out of the freezer to keep the food cool on the journey that I hadn’t shut the freezer door properly.  It was open for about 9 hours until my husband discovered it and he was going away over the weekend too.  I was really gutted but determined to do something about it, I convinced a friend to come over to get the food.  Unfortunately in the mean time my husband refroze all the food for about 4 hours. This meant that all the food needed to be chucked.  More unfortunately my friend had already collected the food before I found out and I had to tell her to chuck it all.  I can’t tell you how upset I was – I couldn’t even put the food in my Green Johanna!!!!!
Having had this devastating news (ok it wasn’t the end of the world, I’m over it now), I wasn’t ready to give up just yet and tried to stick to my challenges as far as possible while in Bath (if I get a chance I will blog about it – no promises though!)
A moment of weakness – leading to various crimes against zero wasteness…

The week after the hen weekend was a blur of activity and I did pretty much no planning for the camping trip, although I was planning on buying sausages from the local butchers to take with or making burgers to take with, but I remembered that my husband wasn’t too keen on their sausages and gave him a call. He didn’t want my burgers or their sausages and I gave him permission to source the food where he wanted to and he headed off straight to the supermarket buying burgers, burger buns, Pringles etc.  I wasn’t going to eat the burger buns or the Pringles and I was going to pretend to myself that I didn’t have anything to do with the fact that the burgers were purchased from a supermarket. Not only that the burgers came in plastic disposable packs of 4 and my husband bought 2 packs of them. Feeling really frazzled I took all the burgers with telling myself that we would cook them all and share them, but what really happened was that we cooked them all, I ate the burgers in the buns and the pringles and then chucked the leftovers.  Not only that they went in the main bin along with some potatoes we cooked that we didn’t eat and some leftover burger buns because I was rushing around like a headless chicken trying to make the house look presentable before the student arrived…
The thing I found hilarious though was although I took a healthy breakfast of porridge and milk and bananas for my kids,  before I had a chance to offer any of this to my older son he was off playing with his friends. When he did come back to the tent he discovered the Pringles and went off with them around the campsite telling everyone that he hadn’t even had any breakfast and that all we had given him was some Pringles – for breakfast!!!! My younger son also tucked into a packet of crisps and I was feeling so run out of steam to do things properly that I just thought s*d it and joined them with eating crisps.  To put this into perspective with my attitude a few weeks ago – my kids don’t usually get to eat crisps, except at birthday parties. In fact I had nearly bought crisps for my sons birthday party and decided that the ingredients in them were horrible and that they didn’t need them.  Yet a couple of weeks later my son is parading around telling the whole school that he was being fed Pringles for breakfast, so as I was chatting to people and finding this out, I felt the need to constantly explain what had happened and that I wasn’t a terrible parent 🙂 
So having gone from a zero waste crisp free birthday party to ruining the contents of my freezer to letting my son eat Pringles for breakfast and chucking a whole load of food in the bin, I’m not sure I’m going in the right direction for Plastic Free July or for Zero Waste Week.  What I really need is a little break to regroup and recentre and re-de-single use plastify myself 🙂  Luckily for me I’m not going away for any weekends again in the immediate future (oh yes apart from to a wedding – shhh don’t tell me or anyone else about that) and I’m sure single use plastic free and zero waste as much as possible Zoe will be back on track soon or at least I hope so 🙂
I don’t plan on doing any more preparing for Plastic Free July now and my current plan is just to wing it a bit and not beat myself up about not achieving 100%, I am amazingly more single use plastic free than I was before I started trying to do this and I think that is a great achievement in itself!!!!
I am currently undertaking a Year of Eco Challenges . If you have a moment I would really appreciate it if you would consider sponsoring me with an action (no money involved) on my DoNation page. Also if you liked this post please click like on Facebook and follow on Twitter – thanks so much!

6 thoughts on “Peaking too soon and going in the wrong direction

  • You shouldn't be too hard on yourself. Sometimes, things happen that are out of our control. While I find most of the time living without disposable plastic is non-problematic, there are times that it just doesn't happen the way we want it to.

    The way I look at it, while there are going to be times that plastic (or unnecessary waste) sneaks in, I have made a significant effort, and am using MUCH, MUCH less than I would be if I wasn't conscious about it. You are doing a great job, don't be discouraged!

  • I agree with Elizabeth, depending on the situation, it can almost be impossible, especially if everyone else around you doesn't have that as a part of their lives. I think being conscious of it (or anything that feels different from the 'norm') and making conscious choices when you can, are very important.

    Anything done that is different from others, Paleo, vegetarian, vegan, waste free, plastic free, tp free, car free…whatever it is, I vote for trying hard so that personally one feels good about it, but being a purist is impossible for most. I think it can be so stressful to be that purist, that takes away from mental and physical well being. I'm a firm believer that stress kills…when fighting to swim upstream, sometimes one just has to float with the current.

  • Thanks Elizabeth, I am definitely too hard on myself at times. I like pushing myself though and seeing how eco-friendly I can go!

  • You are right Denise, being a purist is very difficult when surrounded by people who don't think the same way as me and I am doing the best I can. The main problem I had over the last few weeks though was being too busy. I found it was harder to be zero waste and single use plastic free and stick to the Paleo Diet while being so busy…

  • Your doing a good job compared to the majority of other people. If only everyone else was like you the world would be a much better place.
    Its not the consumer who need to change it the supermarkets and governments attitude to recycling.
    Should look at reuse more standardised robust plastic packaging.
    Should have Check in's at the supermarkets refundable deposits on packaging. Scan items yourself then get a vouchers to use at the check out

    If you don't reuse you lose.
    Already happening in germany.
    Will be taking it up with my MP
    They can standardized cigarette packaging ? .why not food

  • I agree anonymous supermarkets and governments do need to change their attitude towards waste and recycling, but I also think in the meantime there is a lot that can be done without waiting for them to change! Good on you taking it up with your MP though – more people should be doing that!

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