Amy’s plastic free challenge

I have always tried to limit the amount of plastic I use, however I have been finding it increasingly hard to not purchase plastic items. Reduce, reuse, recycle might seem easy enough but with plastic packaging covering almost every item available in shops, it seems to me that we are really over-using plastics.  There are alternatives of course, but with an economy that is reliant on plastics, it is a struggle not to purchase your fruit and veg wrapped in polyethylene bags.

I generally try to avoid using or buying items that used an unnecessary amount of plastic. If I am shopping in for fruit and vegetables, I take my own bags with me.  I still buy items of food that are packaged in plastic, after all there is no getting away from it. Soups, pasta, rice, bread, meat, fish, confectionery, condiments….the list is endless. Almost everything is covered in plastic. I like to carry water bottles with me, and I normally tend to refill bottles or carry a flask. But I am one in a large number of people who will go and buy a new plastic bottle when they forget to take one with them . I could just wait to get home before having a drink, or buying a snack wrapped in plastic, but it’s so easy, so convenient. 

All of this over-packaging causes excessive waste, which if not recycled, will end up in land fill. Plastics take hundreds of years to decompose, and often end up in the marine environment. Once in the marine environment plastics persist and can have a number of negative effects on marine biota. 

Let’s think about the ever present plastic bag. It seems nice enough, makes shopping so much easier, and we can just chuck it away after we are finished with it, or if it breaks. Ultimately, this plastic bag will find its way to the sea, where it looks surprisingly like a jellyfish.

Plastics can be mistaken by marine organisms for prey items, and once ingested they can cause blockages, decrease food intake, let to malnutrition, starvation and death. There are numbers of reports of ingestion which has lead to the death of birds, turtles, fish and marine mammals.(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X02002205)

No I do not need to put my one banana in a plastic bag, I’ll put it straight into my rucksack thanks! 

With Lent approaching I was struggling to find something to give up. I’ve tried and failed to give up chocolate and sweets so many times that I thought I would take a different angle. I decided it was time to give up plastic and to reduce the amount of plastic waste I produce. Easier said than done. 

A quick run through my daily routine and it’s clear I’m going to struggle.

  • Daily: alarm clock (plastic), toothbrush and toothpaste container (plastic), cosmetics and wash kit (plastic) some items of clothing (synthetic),  watch (plastic), TV (plastic), internet box (plastic)
  • Work: bits of my bike (plastic), soles of some of my shoes (plastic), computer monitor, keyboard, mouse, mouse mate, folders, pen holder, sellotape holder, speakers, stapler,  and phone ALL PLASTIC
  • Shopping: lets not even talk about the amount of single use plastics which cover almost every item of my weekly shop!

Plastic is everywhere, it’s ubiquitous.

So here’s my challenge: Can  live without plastic for the duration of Lent? 

I am going to regularly update this page with pictures and stories of my task, so check back for news of my progress.

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Marine Conservation Society

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Update: 1/3/14

I have been on the look out for ways to reduce my plastic usage, and there is no way i can go 100% plastic free. This would mean giving up work for 40 days, not riding my bike, or having a shower.

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My plastic covered desk, complete with Fnding Nemo mug (wouldn’t expect anything less from a marine biologist)!

New task: I am going to not purchase any plastic items for 40 days. 

Rules:

  1. If i already own, or use, items made of plastic, or containing plastic, I will continue to use them. Especially if thy were designed as multi-use items. After all I’m struggling to find a toothbrush that is not made of plastic!! single use items are a NO!!
  2. No purchasing plastic for the 40 days of Lent.
  3. Remember to smile 🙂

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Update: 3/3/14

other people and groups taking part in the plastic free challenge

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Update: 4/3/14….checking out the supermarkets…

It’s my lat day shopping in supermarkets, just to check out what I can or can’t buy from tomorrow onward. the amount of plastic everywhere is unreal, seriously, I can’t believe how much we use. Is it really important for us to put three peppers in plastic wrapping, when you can buy three unwrapped peppers for more money…the world baffles me.

 

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Update: 8/3/14…Shopping…

I went to town armed with paper and cotton bags to attempt to finish a weekly shop.

Destination: http://www.galwaymarket.com/

I know from wandering around town that there are a number of places I can pick up organic and locally grown fruit and veg, but i decided to check out the traders in the market first with an aim to get everything I need in one place.

  • Veg: check. Fruit: check. lettuce, was hard to track down, but the organic stall had wooden crates with single lettuces in. Result!
  • Cheese: check. thank you to my favourite wine and cheese bar, you saved my bacon, I really thought I was going to have to live without cheese for 40 days :(.
  • Bread and cakes: check. wrapped in paper bags :
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So far so good. But I was aching for a drink. Cue McCambridges. They have a selection of drinks in glass bottles. So happy to find a pomegranate juice and I can re-use the glass for future trips 🙂

  • I need to head to a supermarket in the next few days to pick up caned items, but i have plenty in the stock pile at home so this can wait a while.
  • Snack time: Cadbury’s creme egg!!

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  • I really want to buy some meat and fish, but currently struggling to find anywhere that doesn’t have plastic wrapping. I will head to the fishmongers with newspaper or parchment paper next week.

One thought on “Amy’s plastic free challenge

  1. Pingback: So what’s the big problem with plastics? | Plastic Tides

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