“I was brought up in a very environmentally friendly household, as was my husband, and we always thought we were very “green” – we use public transport, limit our meat consumption, and recycle everything we can. However, thanks to the brilliant David Attenborough and the media coverage recently, we started noticing just how much plastic we use - and quickly realised that recycling it wasn’t good enough! So, we made a New Years' resolution to say "no" to plastic wherever we can. This is a snippet of how we’ve done so far...
Our first weekly shop of the year took almost two hours due to us analysing (and bickering about!) every item we picked up. We made some good switches (loose veg, tins instead of plastic cartons, and bulk-buying), but we quickly realised that we would have to re-think some of our favourite conveniences. Our staple weeknight meals included things like pasta parcels (in a plastic packet) with sauce (in a plastic pot!), and although we managed to get most of our veg loose, we couldn’t find chillies, cherry tomatoes, herbs and salad without plastic. Even bread was impossible to buy without plastic. We realised that we would have our work cut out for us – but, determined not to fail at our resolution, we started brushing up on our baking and gardening skills so that we can try and make and grow our own!
The previous owners of our house left us a bread machine when they emigrated, so we've started making our own bread. (Our electricity tariff is 100% renewable so this is a no-brainer for us, though it's always worth considering the carbon footprint on things like this, too). I've also whipped up Tortilla wraps, for our favourite mid-week fajitas, and some batches of pastry. As well as reducing plastic, baking from scratch also means avoiding palm oil which is used in many of these products, and is devastating to rainforests. So a win for both the oceans and the forests!
We've also started growing our own vegetables and herbs, which we’ve been sowing in the greenhouse over the past few weeks. We are complete novices, but we have been told that herbs like coriander, basil and parsley you can grow at any time of the year if you keep them indoors (all you need is a pot and a windowsill!). Outside, we are attempting chillies, cherry tomatoes, onions, aubergines, courgettes and sweetcorn - re-using old flower pots, though you could use toilet roll tubes or egg cartons! The great thing about growing your own fruit and veg (if it succeeds!) is that it not only reduces plastic, but also saves on the carbon footprint of transporting the veg – especially those that are normally imported.
I can’t wait to see our little seedlings start to bear fruit, though it is very much a learning curve this year – we’ll see what works and what doesn’t!
So far, our plastic free journey has been good fun; and we are learning new skills as we go. We’re not perfect - nobody is - but we can all try and do our bit. Whether it’s buying loose veg or trying to grow your own, it all makes a difference!”