Blue Planet has made us aware of plastic pollution in our oceans, but how can we stop using so much of it? Sarah Shreeve recently spent a month trying to live without the convenience of plastic…
I’d never taken the phrase ‘blood, sweat and tears’ particularly literally, but during my second attempt at shaving my legs with my new, all metal safety razor, I realised how accurate it was. I was two weeks into a month without plastic.
As a convenience junkie, the experience was a steep learning curve! My rules were: buy nothing that comes in, or is made of, plastic. Open nothing already at home that’s wrapped in plastic.
I made my preparations carefully, stocking up on more glass storage jars, buying Lush solid shampoo, conditioner, and a mysterious Japanese indoor composting system called a Bokashi Bin (plastic bin bags were probably my biggest concern as a flat dweller, with neither a compost heap nor a garden). I signed up for a veg box, and found a milkman to deliver juice and milk in glass bottles.
The first week was a baptism of fire. Suddenly, I didn’t just have to remember my laptop for work, I needed my reusable coffee cup, water bottle, cutlery and lunch box, not to mention a cloth bag and some empty Tupperware in case I went shopping! My housemate was shocked to discover a kilner jar of yoghurt nestling in our airing cupboard. Luckily, Blue Planet aired that evening, and she was quickly in full support. I soon realised that planning ahead was going to be my secret weapon in surviving a plastic-free month.
My favourite part of moving to a plastic free lifestyle was how my sense of community increased. I found myself moving from weekly supermarket shops to supplementing my veg box with produce from my local greengrocer, fishmonger and butcher- who were more than happy to fill my reusable bags or Tupperware. I suddenly knew people to chat to as I shopped or popped in for another apple. I was thrilled when I met the people at Southsea Bathing Co. and realised I could replace my strange-smelling shaving stick with a locally made shave soap! Somewhere in week four, the challenge went from learning curve to ‘normal life’.
I can genuinely say, I won’t be going back to my old ways of consumption. I may have chosen the most fullon route into a zero-waste lifestyle (most proponents advocate one change at a time), but once changed, it’s a simple and enjoyable way to live. I don’t manage 100% plastic free but I try my best. The extra I spend on local, seasonal food is balanced by buying less junk whilst out and about. I’ve met more people, am protecting a world I care deeply about, and have actually had an awful lot of fun along the way!