We’re officially half way through Plastic Free July, so I figured I’d do a little personal update on how it’s going for me.
In all honesty, it could be going better. On the weekly groceries side of things I’m doing ok – for the most part I’m eating well because most processed foods are packaged in plastic, BUT this also presents a problem as I often spend time at my boyfriend’s house or otherwise not at home where food options are limited. For example, I just spent the weekend away from home, with work during the day and social events in the evening and staying at Alex’s (boyfriend) overnight. I prepped enough food for Saturday but when it came to breakfast and lunch on Sunday I was stumped. I’d eaten all his family’s peanut butter, my go to when I stay at his, and there’s not much else in the way of vegan food so I had to buy something before work. I ended up with a subway sandwich for breakfast and a wrap from Tesco for lunch – plus a slice of cake and a milkshake (vegan, obvs) from a local cafe to help revive my hungover soul. I would’ve loved some fruit but of course, at the stores available to me, it ALL came in plastic (and it was so expensive!). I’d also had two bags of crisps as an attempt to sober up on the train home from London on Saturday night… basically, that weekend was a write-off.
Although it is sometimes difficult, I’ve been forced to get more creative where possible. On another day where I also didn’t have lunch prepped, I was stationed for work at a beach where there is only one shop and it has very few vegan lunch options, if any. The only alternative was a portion of chips, unhealthy AND creates waste. On that day I made do with a can of baked beans, a can of chickpeas and a can of sweetcorn… Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
Tinned foods are my saviour. They’re not zero-waste but they can at least be recycled. I’m eating lots of beans, potatoes, veg like red cabbage and tomatoes that I can get without packaging, and sauerkraut that I can get in a jar. Meals like this are all good practice for when I’m off travelling in my van… #vanlife.
I am finding grains difficult, and I did cave in and buy a bag of pasta. I also bought some nuts that were in plastic that I wanted for a recipe (coming soon) and I just couldn’t find any alternative. I really wish there was a bulk store near me, but there isn’t and I think we just need to do the best we can.
Sometimes this month has been emotionally challenging too – I was so frustrated when I bought a particular brand of oats because I believed they were contained just in the cardboard box, but no. I opened it up to find them in a plastic bag inside the cardboard box. Why?! I actually cried. Ever had one of those days where it feels like the world is against you? Yet finding out that Morrison’s are doing cucumbers without plastic wrapping, and consequently getting Alex to pick me up one as he works there, made me ridiculously happy. I was missing cucumbers!
Another difficulty: I ordered a camera accessory and it came in a box full of inflated plastic air bubbles; and a gift I bought for someone came in plastic. So it definitely hasn’t been a fully plastic free month for me so far! In all honesty, it’s been bloody difficult. However, I am now more aware than ever of my plastic use. I’m saving money (most of the time) as I’m learning to eat what I have available to me as it’s not easy to just run to the shop and grab something convenient, although I really am missing my tofu and greens. I’m growing lettuce and rocket but the yield just isn’t high enough for me – I like to eat a LOT of greens! I’m enjoying lots of peaches, nectarines, apples, melons and oranges. I love strawberries but I don’t buy nearly as many as I used to because I can’t get them plastic free. As I explained in a previous post, I can get berries in plastic punnets without the plastic wrap at my local greengrocers, and the punnets can be recycled so this is a compromise I’m willing to make as berries are so nutritious, As I can’t always get to the greengrocers though, I’m buying less and so saving money. I’m still using up a bag of frozen berries at the moment and I’m not sure what I’ll do when they’re gone as I like them in smoothies and in my favourite pbj oats (recipe coming soon!)… I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, I guess.
I haven’t used any cling film (hooray!) and I’ve been storing food in containers or wrapped in paper, and I bought some more face pads (to replace cotton wool face pads), produce bags and vegan wax wraps as I’ve found these to be really useful products. I also bought a tea strainer from Acadia which is so beautiful, I can’t wait to use it! (The only issue I had is that it came wrapped in plastic, which is disappointing).
So that’s my halfway update! I’m hoping I can do better for the rest of the month, although I’m going on holiday in a week so that may be a challenge. Are you taking part? If you are, how is it going? Good luck for the rest of the month!