Cutting Out Single Use Plastics for 2018

no new clothes for a year

Dress – SkunkFunk
Jacket – Rokit Vintage
Leggings – Thought Clothing
Necklace – People Tree
Trainers – Veja

There has been lots in the news recently about the environmental damage caused by single use plastics especially pollution of the oceans. The final episode of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 showed shocking scenes of the havoc wreaked to sealife and he has since stressed the threat to our oceans from plastics, explaining that it is putting the whole of himanity at risk.

I don’t usually bother with new year resolutions much but this year I was determined to do something to help reduce the amount of plastics that we throw away each week. I was further encouraged with this mission after seeing the pile of rubbish that we created over the Christmas break, much of it being from food.

So on January 1st, I started the new year with a plan in addition to the No New Clothes for a Year challenge again to stop using and throwing away single use plastics. I had no idea how I was going to do this but in the same way that changing to only wearing ethical and sustainable clothing, I knew it was going to take a bit of thought, online research and trial and error.

So nearly 2 weeks in and I have spent quite a bit of time thinking, researching and trialling different options.I havemainly concentrated on food to start with as I thought that this is the area where I could make the most difference.

The bad news: I don’t think it is possible for us to go completely single use plastic free. Not without being almost self sufficient. The busy lifestyle that we lead would make this very difficult.

The good news: We have already made some massive reductions in the amount of non recyclable plastic waste that we are creating.

The wins

There are some really positive changes that we have made:

  • Swapping shop bought sweet treats, biscuits and cakes for homemade options The main ingredients for these are available in paper or cardboard packaging (flour, sugar, butter eggs). It does take a bit more time but the children enjoy making them, they are much tastier than shop bought and possibly even a bit healthier.
  • Swapping ready made soup for homemade soup. In colder weather I eat soup most days for lunch and often for dinner. I tended to buy the plastic containers or cartons of readymade soup. This year I have got back to making my own soups which are also really healthy. My favourites: Leek and potatoe and Celariac and apple.
  • Buying in bulk. It’s pretty obvious really but if you buy food (or anything in bigger packs) there is less packaging. In particular, I have started buying big paper sacks of potatoes from the local farm shop rather than small plastic bags from the local super market. It also works out cheaper this way.
  • Opting for card/paper over plastic – for some products, it is possible to buy options packaged in paper and  card rather than plastic for example eggs, pasta, rice, mushrooms, puy lentils, icecream and fresh bread (instead of sliced)
  • Buying fruit and vegetables separately without plastic bags. The local farm shop and Morrisons have both proved good places to buy some fruit and veg not in plastic packaging including apples, carrots, bananas, kiwi, brocolli, peppers and tomatoes etc without plastic. I have also have also trialled an organic veg scheme with mixed sucess as some items were still in plastic bags.
  • Frozen items There are quite a few frozen items available in cardboard boxes rather than plastic. Particulary vegetarian and fish which I eat quite a lot of.
  • Reusable shopping bags I have been using my bag for life for some time but I am now being extra carefully to make sure that I always have it with me when shopping.
  • Packed lunches – not really any change here but I have always recycled plastic containers for pack lunches and filled reusable bottles with water to avoid buying packaged sandwiches and drinks. With the obvious benefits of saving money and being more healthy too.

The more tricky bits

  • Certain veg can be difficult buy plastic free. In particular cucumber, spinach, kale and lettuce. I have not completely gievn up on the idea of organic veg boxes and may try again to see if I can get a more plastic free option.
  • Meat– I have actually found it impossible to buy fresh meat plastic free. I have tried supermarkets, organic deliveries and the farm shop. All are wrapped in plastic. The local farm shop did however say that it should be ok to bring my own reusable plastic containers for them to put meat from the counter into. I hope to be able to try this out soon. In the mean time, I am buying meat in bulk to minimise packaging e.g. if I roast a whole chicken and slice for children’s sandwiches, there is much less packaging than individual packs of sliced meat.
  • Petrol- previously I have ordered all of my food in one supermarket delivery from one place. Trying to go plastic free has meant a lot more mixing and matching which ultimately means more driving around and more petrol and time.I hope to try and minimise this when possible by careful planning, bulk buying and popping into relevant shops when I am nearby.

I will update again soon with my progress on reducing single use plastics also on my no new clothes challenge in 2018.

Do you have any new years resolutions for 2018? If you are trying to reduce or cut out plastic, I would love to know how you are getting on and any tips or ideas!

With warmest wishes


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