I promised to keep a plastic diary throughout July and here is it – the first few days! (Just as a reminder I have challenged myself to refuse single use plastics associated with me only, but to try to limit them for the rest of the family – read more here)
Before I start, I’ve been having a think about what counts as single use plastic. A plastic bag that you use once to carry your shopping home could be defined as single use, but is it still single use if you use it over and over again? I’m starting to realise that when I say I am trying to avoid single use plastic during July, what I mean is plastic that is designed to be disposable and not long lasting. Even that is a bit confusing, but I will stick with that definition for now. To see another bloggers take on it read here.
Daily plastic free successes:
Based on my definition above, I think my electric toothbrush heads are a bit of a grey area as they are designed to be disposable, but the electric toothbrush itself is long lasting and I use the toothbrush heads for as long as possible. Toothbrushes aside I have the following plastic free successes daily:
- I brush my teeth with bicarbonate of soda that I bought in bulk in a paper bag from my local Chinese grocery shop.
- I would usually use bicarbonate of soda as a deodorant as well, but recently a friend gave me some homemade lavender deodorant in a reusable pot, which is such a treat and I have been really enjoying using that. (Bicarb used for brushing teeth and deodorant pictured above)
- As far as toilet paper goes although I spent a month not using it (read more here), it didn’t work for me long term. I had thought about trying other methods, but can’t bring myself to do it at the moment. So I am using toilet paper at the moment. It is toilet paper that we bought in bulk over a year ago though so I haven’t actually been out to buy any in a very long time!
- I wash my hands with olive oil soap, which comes packaged in a cardboard box.
- I don’t have a shower every day, but when I do I use the soap mentioned above and I also use it to wash my hair. I don’t use any other products in the shower – no shower gel, no shampoo and no conditioner (read more about that challenge here)
- The kids have a plastic free breakfast – porridge which was bought in bulk in a paper bag and fruit which was bought unpackaged from the grocers. I also have fruit for breakfast bought unpackaged from the grocers.
- I have a plastic free lunch of salad – instead of buying plastic packaged lettuces, I have been buying unpackaged cabbage and shredding it for a salad base. I also very kindly got given a homegrown lettuce recently, which was delicious!
- I make packed lunches for the rest of the family which although does involve plastic packaged bread also contained unpackaged chopped up veg, fruit and and I make my own sandwich fillings. I do use mayonnaise that I buy in a jar though and that is something I still need to work on and also the cucumber is plastic wrapped…
- The kids have been picking homegrown plastic free strawberries and raspberries every evening to have for dessert after dinner each night – sometimes added to homemade plastic free yoghurt.
- I drink plastic free herbal teas – using homegrown lemon balm, mint and chamomile in hot water (read more about my chamomile tea here
- I do plastic free washing up using bicarbonate of soda (read more here)
My plastic free diary – Days 1 to 3:
Day 1 – Tuesday
Technically I didn’t buy, use or throw away any single use plastics related to myself at all today – hooray!
For dinner we had omelettes – the eggs were bought plastic free via my bulk buying egg group I set up as part of my food sharing group (read more here) and the cheese was bought in bulk at the butchers chopped straight off a massive block and transported home in reusable containers (read more here). I also added some veggies which were bought unpackaged from the grocers
Plastic used/ thrown away:
- First thing on the first morning of Plastic Free July I had to change a pooey nappy – which I put in a disposable nappy bag straight in the bin (I was hoping my son would be finished with nappies by now and he is in the day time but not at night).
- I also tried on two pairs of tights realised they had massive holes in them and needed to be chucked (then afterwards I wondered if they can be recycled). I also realised tights probably have plastic in them – nylon is plastic, is lycra plastic? Also although tights can be worn again and aren’t in theory designed to be worn a couple of times and then chucked, that is what tends to happen with me, so maybe they are single use plastic…
- I used a different hair brush to normal and two of the plastic prongs broke off 🙁 which were chucked in the bin. Not single use plastic in theory, but maybe poor quality plastic items which are supposed to last longer than they do should count…
Day 2 – Wednesday
- Ordered milk in glass bottles from the milkman -to start on the weekend
- Bought bulk sunflower seeds and popping corn – they did come in plastic bags, but two 5kg bags instead 20 x the 500g bags I would have had, plus they cost half of what I would have paid! I bought these from Infinity foods wholesale which is probably the cheapest place / way to buy a large variety of bulk organic foods in Brighton! (In case you are wondering I have not been sponsored or subsidised in any way by them – I do have a friend who works for them though.) Previously I was buying the exact same branded products from my local grocer in small bags at double the cost – really not sure why I haven’t done this sooner!
- Got given some beautiful (and very tall) plastic free flowers from my friends garden!
- Homemade pizza for dinner using my breadmaker (only plastic ingredients included tomato puree lid and yeast packaging)
Plastic used/ thrown away:
- Today I broke my rules on purpose. I bought yoghurt in a plastic pot and cream in a plastic pot.
- I bought the yoghurt because I needed some to start a new batch of homemade yoghurt as I had left my homemade starter too long to use (see how I make yoghurt here)
- I bought the cream so that I could make Tikka Massala sauce, which I made in bulk the next day and then froze. I would like to think I was doing it to avoid plastic, but actually a lot of the ingredients came in plastic packaging – herbs, spices, cream, plastic lid on tomato puree…
- I also broke my rules by accident – it was the last week of the Catchbox season (read more here) and my lovely friend picked up my fish for me. However I forgot to give her a reusable container every time she picked the fish up for me and it came home in a disposable plastic bag. The same lovely friend bought me a really beautiful plastic free bunch of flowers though which came from her back garden!
- Plastic also went in the bin that wasn’t mine/ wasn’t single use:
- Cucumber wrapper
- My son broke the decorative badge on one of his Crocs (plastic shoes)
Day 3 – Thursday
- I made gingerbread men using mostly plastic free ingredients to be sold at my son’s summer fair. I used olive oil that was bought in plastic, but bought in a massive bulk bottle of it quite a while ago. The ginger was also bought in a bulk packet (although thinking about it I could have tried using raw ginger to save on more packaging)
- For dinner we had chicken tikka massala with homemade sauce. Yes there were plastic problems with the sauce, but I made myself unpackaged cauliflower rice (basically you blitz cauliflower in a food processor and then steam it) and my husband had normal rice, which I had bought in bulk from one of my local shops (can’t remember which one!). The chicken was leftover from a roast chicken that I bought unpackaged from my local butchers and transported home in a large saucepan. I had frozen it in a reusable container. Kids and student didn’t have dinner at home that evening.
Plastic used/ thrown away/ recycled
- Vinegar – put plastic bottle in recycling bin, saved lid for taking to the The Green Centre. I had planned to make my own vinegar for July as I use it all the time for cleaning and for washing clothes but I haven’t found the time to do this yet. Plus if I did make my own vinegar I would need to test if it is acid enough and I have a feeling any test kit I buy would be likely to contain plastic…
- Tuna – came in tins – plastic lined (wasn’t for me and was already in my cupboard from before July)
- Pasta which came in a plastic bag (wasn’t for me and was already in the cupboard)
- Empty yoghurt pot – washed and kept
- Stock cube wrapper – not sure if it has plastic in it – Kallo organic brand (wasn’t for me and again was already in the cupboard)
- Cream pot – went in the bin
- Bed wetting mat – went in the bin (wasn’t for me, but I keep planning to buy a reusable one of these!!!)
- I had wine with dinner – even though it comes in glass bottles, it has a plastic seal :(. The wine was already opened though so I decided it didn’t count shh don’t tell anyone :).
That’s it for now, but tomorrow I will be publishing what happened from days 4-7 so look out for it!
Other UK bloggers going plastic free can be found writing at Westywrites, Plastic is Rubbish, Westwick Dreaming, Second-hand tales, Sustainable Witney, My Zero Waste, Plastic-Free July in Croydon and Mommy Emu – take a look and why not join us on our plastic free journey!