Today I needed a few things. The first was laundry liquid which I bought a jar of at Earth.Food,Love, the zero waste shop in town. Ordinarily I put 20p into the powder machine at the launderette and, every time I do, I tell myself that I need to buy some more Earth-friendly stuff, but then it slips my mind until I’m there doing the exact same thing the following week. Since I’ve been house sitting though I’ve got into Laundry Liquid and the one available in the shop is amazing – it smells divinely of lavender and is so concentrated you hardly need to use much.
Next I need olive oil but the zero waste shop has not as yet been able to get it in big enough containers so I buy a glass bottle elsewhere. It has a metal lid which I know has plastic on the inside but, right now, in my few spare minutes lunch break from work, I don’t feel there are better options.
Today I need pins and the options are a plastic box of plastic-headed ones or a plastic wheel of plastic-headed ones. There’s not much in it really so I opt for the wheel and feel rubbish that I don’t have more time to find non-plastic ones somewhere else.
Today is the last day of the house sit and, again, I’m rushing around the local health food shop in a few minutes of lunch break trying to buy supplies for our hosts for their return. I buy kefir and celery, both of which include plastic – the kefir in the lid and the celery in the wrapping. I also buy kefir for myself. I feel like I’ve totally failed on being plastic-free and it’s due to time and energy and not having the space to think of other things I could have bought.
Today I am thoroughly exhausted and also have an infection on my foot. I read up on how to treat it naturally and I need salt and bicarb to do so. I have neither, so my husband pops to the local supermarket and buys both along with a – dare I say it – ready meal for me for later since I can’t actually get of bed. The ready meal is, of course, in plastic and feels like the ultimate sin whilst the bicarb is in a plastic container that can be refilled in the future and the salt comes in a glass pot with a plastic lid – again, it can be refilled. I have also read that kefir will help this infection and I feel the need to have it every day so I am going to. I would ideally like to get some water kefir grains and someone was giving some away earlier in the week so I’ll see if I can track them down.
I need medicine for my foot today and the best thing I can find is a locally-made talc. Unfortunately it comes in a small plastic container but I feel this is an emergency. At least if I need more I can probably get it straight from the supplier in a paper bag. I also buy loose teas at Neals Yard and ask them to put them in paper bags rather than plastic. They willingly oblige although they too use the plastic-coated labels that come through the scales. All my food purchases in the health food shop are plastic free but I also want kale to juice and here it only comes in a plastic bag. Luckily I know that the Greengrocer at the bottom of town sells it loose so I make a special trip to get it. It takes a bit of extra walking and time to get there but it feels good to have made the effort.
I remember that I can make pancakes with gram flour and water, no milk required. I’m so pleased and it makes me realise how simple it can be to make important changes to our consumer habits. I am able to buy peas in the natural packaging of their pods at the farm shop and I take my own vegware container for a takeaway salad. Everything else I buy is loose veg and eggs in a cardboard box.
After both a breakfast and a lunch of chickpea pancakes – hope I don’t go off them - I make my way into town to buy groceries and head straight for Earth.Food.Love, the zero waste shop, with a basket full of large empty jars that I fill up with seeds, grains and nuts. Next I head to the health food shop and buy loose veg. This whole challenge is starting to feel a lot easier. I’m not even really thinking about all the plastic-wrapped food on the shelves anymore, I just know I can’t have it and the discomfort of still wanting it or thinking that it’s going to make my life easier, has gone. It does help to keep watching clips of turtles with plastic straws stuck about 5 inches up their nostrils or caught in plastic bags which have deformed their shells as they’ve grown, or divers collecting plastic trash from the sea bed and children playing amongst rubbish in rivers and, although I often feel like my little effort won’t really make that much difference, I’m encouraged to read of whole towns and cities elsewhere in the world who are also embracing this challenge and I hope that, like me, those people are finding ways to sustain this after #plasticfreejuly is over.
Again, today all of my purchases were plastic free – apart from the inside of the lid of the jar of kefir, which I’ve talked about before. Occasionally it feels a bit like the food we’re eating at the moment is very restricted – I’m not sure we’ve ever consumed this many pumpkin seeds on consecutive days before – but I am finding myself being more creative with ingredients and most of our meals are now made completely from scratch. I did buy some nut burgers today because I had a very long day at work and I have found a brand – GoodLife (I feel they deserve a plug) – which doesn’t use any plastic packaging, only a cardboard box which, I’m finding, is rare these days! I have to say, I’m also starting to feel really good in myself now too which goes to show that conscious living is good for you and the planet!
Had a takeaway lunch from an amazing Dosa stall on the market. Not only does the man who runs it grow a lot of the vegetables he uses, but he also serves the dosas on a thick paper plate with wooden cutlery. What a great, sustainable-as-possible food outlet! Later I went for a cup of tea but decided to track down a café that served it loose rather than in bags having recently found out that most – yes MOST – teabags contain plastic! Unbelievable when you think that a teabag HAS to be heated and often soaks for a while. I’m not sure what “grade” the plastic is but we were living with plastic free teabags for quite some time before these were introduced surely? I’m wondering what is the point of plastic in a flipping teabag??! As usual with sustainability in mind, it’s time to go back to the “old ways” – loose tea made in a pot or just a small amount in an infuser or the bottom of the cup. This summer I’ve been drinking teas made with herbs and flowers picked fresh from the garden, the allotment or the wild. They are so much more potent since teas sit around in teabags for a long time before they make it into our cups and can be a low grade substance to begin with anyway. I found one café out of the five I enquired at which served tea loose so I took a paper cup of it away and declined a lid. The woman behind the counter told me I could take my own cup in too if I wanted so, another time, I will.
Again, I bought lots of veg for dinner and wanted to get my husband some meat but there’s nowhere in town that sells organic meat that isn’t pre-packed in plastic so I decided I would make us some seed and bean burgers later on. I haven’t made burgers/sausages from scratch for a really long time because I haven’t had the time, space or energy but tonight I will. Good habits are developing!
No plastic was bought today!
I almost managed a plastic-free day today except that my foot infection had got so bad that I decided to go down the pharmaceutical route and bought some medication for it which came in small plastic bottles that can’t be re-used.
The last day of #plasticfreejuly and I really mess up! I so wanted to end on a good note but I spent the best part of the morning grappling with a printer that just wouldn’t work and got myself into a total, running-late, freaking out kind of state. I had to get a parcel off to the drop-off point which is a tiny shop in the area. Since it was almost lunch time and I would be in a meeting for the rest of the day and I hadn’t really eaten any breakfast, I knew the wise thing to do was to buy food in this shop. For a small store on a housing estate it does really well with some interesting things to buy though not much that wasn’t wrapped in plastic in some way. I grabbed a large packet of crisps which look like they’re in a foil packet but there is plastic involved too. I could kid myself that there isn’t but I know there is. Apart from that, I did fulfill the plastic-free remit, buying the food for dinner at the farm shop where everything was loose and the sausages could be wrapped only in paper.
Cheryl Tipple-Trepat is a writer, artist and Editor of She Who Knows Magazine, currently undergoing the challenge of Plastic Free July!
Isabella Lazlo is a mother and an artist dedicated to bringing through the voice of the feminine in service of healing and re-balancing upon our Earth. As Editor at She Who Knows, a new and inspiring woman's magazine, she weaves an ever-expanding rich tapestry of voices from today's leading women, the inspirational, impassioned, heartfelt voices of women who care for our Earth and serve as midwives in the birth of a new world.