One week down and it’s going well.

One week down and it has been very interesting. I’ve done a few things and been on a few journey’s (actual ones!) which have required quite a bit of rethinking and I have had to go without. I have also collected a few bits of plastic by mistake but I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve achieved.

Day 2 of the challenge saw me driving up to Nottingham to help no 2 child move into her new student accomodation. I filled up my water bottle and made a flask of tea to keep me going on the journey. I also bought myself a can of fizzy grapefruit juice as a treat. I also packed myself a lunch of left over supper from the night before so I was set for the journey. On the way up I stopped at Gloucester for a toilet stop and thought I would try out asking them to fill up my water bottle for me at the coffee shop. Absolutely fine. More than happy to do it. I also bought myself a bun for pudding which came in a paper bag – result! I stayed the night with no 2 child and then left at 6.30am after dropping her off at work. She doesn’t eat breakfast so I was pretty hungry and hadn’t been able to pack anything to bring. Stopped at a Tesco garage and was faced with a shop full of plastic wrapping. After a bit of heavy duty thinking I came up with a cunning plan. All Tesco expresses have a Costa machine which has napkins. So I took a napkin and used it to wrap a loose Pain au Raisin. No funny looks at the checkout, so result! For just about the first time ever I stopped a bit later and had a hot chocolate in a Costa and sat down and had a break from driving. It was actually really nice – I wasn’t in a rush to get home at a particular time and I had a few phone calls to make. I’ll do that more often when I have time rather than grabbing something and speeding on.

I then had another challenge this week as one of my choirs had clubbed together and got me a ticket for Glyndebourne Opera on Saturday. So I was meeting Rupert there and staying over. The thing with Glyndebourne is that you take a fancy picnic and eat it in the gardens in the interval. So mine had to be plastic free – and I managed it!! Asparagus tart, carrot and walnut salad, tomato salad, homemade bread. Rhubarb crumble cake for pudding and a marmalade cake for afternoon tea. A big flask of tea and of course Prosecco and red wine. China plates, proper cutlery and real glasses and proper tablecloth and napkins. Very posh!! There was a tiny strip of plastic inside the metal covering of the Prosecco (Arghh) so I have saved it for the reckoning at the end of the month.

On the drive to and from Glyndebourne I had a few successes in service stations. I went to a drive through Costa and got a hot chocolate in my travel mug. Several garages refilled my water bottle and I did another breakfast Pain au Raisin trick with a napkin! Very pleased with myself!! On the way home I was very sleepy. I don’t drink coffee so have to rely on diet coke to keep me awake on long journeys. The problem is that often in the main bit of the service stations they only sell plastic bottles. I stopped at two with no luck. However, I found cans at Cobham and Reading in the petrol stations – so I’m not dead!

Things I am having to do without at the moment are strawberries, cream and lettuce. Just can’t find them not in plastic and I live too far away from a pick your own. But driving through Sussex there were plenty of stalls in lay-bys selling loose cherries so had those instead – yum!! Shame I don’t live in the South East for cherry purposes although you can get them loose in greengrocers.

Obviously I have been using stuff up which I already had in plastic so I’ll have to see how it goes when they run out but I’m fairly confident. I forgot to cancel our subscription for “The Week” so that arrived in a plastic bag on Friday – Bugger!!! Have kept that for the reckoning. And the other error was a small plastic label on the bunch of beetroot I bought which I didn’t notice. Other than that – pretty good.

Overall it has been really positive. I find that I’m having to delay gratification which is really good for me. I’m a bit of a “I want it and I want it now” sort of person which is often impossible so has taught me to wait or do without. The cherries on the side of the road were a real treat and so exciting!!

One thing I was fretting about was the kitchen bin. What to do about the bin liner? I looked on the Banes website and you can put rubbish straight into your wheelie bin without bagging it first. And as I’ve cut down so much, we compost all food waste anyway, there isn’t really anything very much that is disgusting to go in the bin – so it has gone naked. And the amazing news is that a week later it still isn’t even half full!!

Massive result!!!

This morning I planted lettuce seeds…………😂

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First day of Plastic Free July ……….🤪

So, off I go.

I’ve set some parameters for myself.

My goal is to not bring any plastic into the house during July. I don’t mean literally – I mean not buy anything encased in plastic during July.

I already have stuff in the house which is in plastic but it would be ludicrous to banish all plastic and waste the stuff inside it as well.

Also, I have three other adults in the house. Although they are pro my reduction in plastic use they haven’t signed up to the event themselves so anything they bring in doesn’t count (although I will engage in a discussion!)

Anything that does come in I will declare and save until the end of July.

To deal with plastic that is already in the house I will try to reuse as much of it as I can. So I will have two residual piles at the end of the month. Stuff that has come in and stuff that was already in but can’t be reused. Any of that that can be recycled will be and hopefully the landfill pile will be very small.

I’m quite excited. My friend Tracey and I started off Plastic-free July by cleaning the sink with lemon and bicarbonate of Soda. We know how to live!!

I’m going to need a considerably bigger pot of bicarb!

Not perfect results as the sink is very worn. But the smooth bits came clean. The damaged bits only come clean with bleach so challenge no. 1 is to find a way of getting the sink looking nice.

Before
By no means perfect but the plug came up really well and the smooth bits of porcelain are sparkling. If you look carefully you can see the tap reflection in the second picture!!!!! It smells considerably nicer than bleach though.

War on Plastic

OK. Feeling quite fired up.

I watched the BBC’s “War on Plastic” last night which ended with a fantastic “call to arms”. Nothing too confrontational, nothing illegal. Just a statement to the big supermarkets about the excess packaging.

The idea is that if you feel any of the packaging that you pick up in your shop is unnecessary then you grab a marker pen and write some feedback to your supermarket ON THE PACKAGING and then go and hand it in to them. Add the hashtag #OurPlasticFeedback and take a photo of it and put it on social media as well just for added exposure.

I think this is a brilliant idea and an easy one to do and I have spoken to so many people who complain about the excess packaging in supermarkets. So, armed with my clear plastic tomato tray which I had written a message on I popped into Wells Tesco this afternoon certain that I would be joining if not a sea then a dribble of like minded people.

I was quite nervous. I didn’t know how Tesco would be reacting to the large amount of plastic that I felt sure would be pouring in and cluttering up their customer service desk.

At 3:15pm I walked in and said to the woman on the desk that I had some feedback for Tesco which I would like her to pass onto management and that I had written it on this plastic tub. The response was underwhelming to say the least. She looked quite surprised, carefully put it to one side on the desk (after having read the message) and said she would pass it on.

There were no alarm bells, no security guards manhandling me to the floor or even disgruntlement. It was easy. So why hadn’t more people done it?

Last night on “War on Plastic” the woman in charge of packaging for Tesco said that they could go plastic free in fruit and veg tomorrow if they thought it was the right thing to do. We need to tell them it’s the right thing to do. I have sat in so many tea shops, pubs, private houses and , yes maybe I am in a middle class bubble, but this seems to be a hot topic for many of my friends. We need to tell the supermarkets what we think otherwise they are completely within their rights to say there is no demand.

One thing I have discovered in my attempt to go plastic free is that I although I have almost completely managed it I believe very strongly that it is only because I am well-off, work funny hours so can hunt around for places to buy plastic free, aren’t feeding fussing young children, am practically vegan at home and am on a bit of a crusade. Take away one or more of those attributes and it becomes pretty impossible where we live or at least, a trial.

A lot of advice I’ve had about going plastic-free is that there are specialist shops that do it. But what if you work shifts, don’t earn a lot of money and have several young children to feed? It’s a really big ask.

Tell the supermarkets that we want them to help us. Get them to up their game but help them by letting them know how.

Get down there with your message on a bit of plastic!!

Tortillas for tea!!

I’ve recently started making re-fried bean wraps but of course the tortillas come in plastic.

So today I decided to make some of my own. Oh my god – they are sooooooo delicious in a soft white bread sort of way! Why haven’t I done this before. They don’t bear any resemblance to the rather chewy things you get in the supermarket.

(This is a side-effect I have found surprising about doing this plastic-free business. It is taking me out of my usual rut and making me try new things. I haven’t been doing a lot of different cooking lately so this is making me do different stuff and I’m enjoying it.)

Anyway – back to Tortillas. They are so easy – yes they take a bit more time but not that much and you could save this supper for an evening when you’ve got a bit more breathing space. The most time consuming bit is the rolling out.

The recipe is:

  • 400g self raising flour
  • 300mls warm water
  • large pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Mix all the ingredients together but put the water in gradually until you’ve got the right consistency. Think bread dough. Different flours absorb different amounts of water.

Divide into 8, roll out really thinly to dinner plate size and then fry 1 minute each side. If you want them to stay soft, cover with a tea towel to keep the steam in.

It didn’t go quite so well on the Cheddar front. A friend had suggested the little wheels of cheddar you can get covered in wax. I looked into it a bit and wax seems to be problematic to get rid of and the cheese is so small I will be very quickly inundated with the stuff! Also I bought a couple and they were pretty grim. But the problem has been solved – post to come on success in Morrisons!

I want to keep my teeth…….!

Today I came to the realisation that dental care is going to be practically impossible to do plastic free and I can’t not clean my teeth during July.

The problem is I have sensitive teeth.

A few weeks back I bought some toothpaste from ZeroGreen which is great. It comes in a glass pot and has a really sweet little bamboo spatula so that you don’t have to dip your toothbrush into it. It’s not very minty and it doesn’t froth but my teeth feel great after using it. Coupled with some silk dental floss I was cooking with gas!! (Unfortunate turn of phrase I now realise in this age of global warming!!)

But last week my tooth sensitivity came back so I had to return to my usual toothpaste and today I had to restock. Not only does the toothpaste come in a plastic tube but you get a free cardboard box as well – sooooo generous!!!

I’m not very pleased about this, but what I’m intending to do is combine the Sensodyne with the Georganics and see if that keeps my tooth sensitivity at bay. At least I will have reduced my plastic consumption.

And I’ll write to Sensodyne and see what they have to say on the matter.

If anyone knows of any plastic free toothpaste for senstive teeth then please let me know!!

Reality is hitting.

This is not going to be easy!

I’m really enjoying this but it is a big project and it is taking up a lot of my time. This is hard to do and it should be easier.

But anyway – here’s an update.

Yesterday I realised that Rupert’s favourite jam (Mackays Rhubarb and Ginger Preserve) has a huge plastic label on it. Obvious really but just hadn’t noticed before. Thinking about it a lot of jars do – eg. sundried tomatoes from Tesco – it makes the jar look a bit more trendy and you can see through to the contents a bit more. But it’s unnecessary!!

It means that that is the end of Rupert’s favourite jam – haven’t told him yet. So yesterday I made some of my own with the rhubarb I bought the day before. So my first (knowingly) plastic-free jar of jam. (Reused jam jar, rhubarb from greengrocer with no packaging, granulated sugar in a paper bag, packaging free lemon and fresh ginger all from Tesco). I think it’s really nice – we’ll wait to see what Rupert thinks!

Plastic free rhubarb and ginger preserve – but I had to make it.

So that was a success. Although it took quite a lot of time and it could have been avoided if Mackays had put a sensible paper label on their jar!

But today our copy of The Week plopped through the letterbox.

Oh my god – hadn’t even thought of this! Going to have to find a newsagent that stocks it. Or might go and ask in the garage in the village if they order stuff in. I posted this picture on facebook and my cousin said “never mind the plastic – the people on the cover need to be composted!”

This is all quite daunting but I’m finding it really interesting. But my big concern is how to get people engaged who don’t have the time to make their own jam or trail around shops trying to find cucumbers that aren’t wrapped in plastic?

I think I’m going to have to start writing letters. I think I’ll start with Mackays. Something nice and uncomplicated that won’t be too much of a disappointment if I get knocked back. After all I think Waitrose do Rhubarb and Ginger with a paper label – perhaps Rupert will have to go there! (I think that is probably the most middle-class sentence I have ever written!!)

This is going to take some planning!

Day 1 of the planning stage and this morning I was in Bristol as I took Rosanna into school. This is going to change after tomorrow though when she takes her last A level – no more frequent trips into Bristol where plastic-free shopping is easier.

So I popped in to Sainsburys because I thought I would be able to use my own containers to get meat and cheese from the deli counter. Well I could but I would have had a sheet of plastic added to it because the chap said he wasn’t allowed to touch my container because of cross-contamination…….? So I declined. I bought some mince from Tesco the other day and they didn’t use a sheet of plastic so I can go there. So I left Sainsbury’s with just two avocados – not wrapped in plastic but they did have little plastic stickers on. Hmm.

I then went to North Street in Bedminster/Southville (depending who you talk to) – I thought I would try the butcher there. Brilliant – they took my container put the meat in and charged me. No sticker from the till either. That’s Rare Meat Butchers of Southville. No website but found this on facebook https://m.facebook.com/RareMeatButchersofSouthville

No luck with cheese – everywhere is wrapped in plastic. So thought I would try the deli counter in the big Tesco in Brislington on the way home.

I walked along to the other end of North Street to get some Raisins from the plastic-free shop https://www.zerogreenbristol.co.uk/. They were shut!!! Need to factor in opening times! Southville Deli do some loose ingredients so got them from there. Not as well organised as ZeroGreen though.

But I did discover Hugo’s just up from ZeroGreen – a fantastic veg shop where they source local stuff and very little packaging at all. Really knowledgeable about rhubarb husbandry as well!! http://www.hugosgreengrocer.co.uk/

I did have an awful realisation last night that I wouldn’t be able to have Strawberries if I was going to stick to my resolution ……. aaaaaagggghhhhh! Chosen Hill Farm has closed and all other strawberries come in plastic. Sure enough in Hugo’s their strawberries were in plastic punnets too. But they were so nice and chatty I shared my desperation with them. They then emptied the strawberries into a paper bag for me. I thought that was cheating but they promised that they would use the plastic punnet again!!

Tesco on the way home was hopeless as they have completely shut the deli counter in that branch. I’ll try Midsomer Norton as they are still open Thursday to Saturday. In the meantime I had to buy some cheddar in the plastic.

What I learnt today was that this is going to take even more planning than I thought. I can’t go driving around looking for plastic-free produce so I need to find out where it is and buy it when I find myself near it.

I have some thoughts about how to do this.

So what did I achieve today?

Plastic -Free

Completely plastic-free – Rhubarb, green beans, Nectarines and Strawberries from Hugo’s. Raisins put into my own jar from ZeroGreen. I also got the mince but I forgot to put it in the photo.

Oops!

But I did fail on the plastic-free in other departments. Didn’t manage Golden Syrup – it has a plastic seal around the top. Cheese – I gave up and we have burgers for tea tonight so needed to get something. One of the nectarines and all the avocados had stickers on them. Homework to be done!!