This blog is coming to you a little later than planned, because with birthdays, teaching and a sickness bug that knocked me out for a week, I don’t really know where the time went.
As many of you will know this year Gareth and I gave up buying anything packaged in plastic for Lent, which, living in a small town, wasn’t the easiest. There are no bulk stores here, no plastic free shops, and so it came down to a lot of pre-planning and inventive thinking (not a bad thing).
And so how did we do? Amazing actually - we bought something in plastic once, in the last week, on a bad day, when the tofu we had been making had gone terribly wrong for reasons unknown to us, it was late, and to be honest by then I felt we had learnt our lessons - what to change, how we could make that possible, and what we would bring back in.
What we learnt…
This was possibly the important lesson from the whole 40 days.
There’s the slightly easier things, like remembering your reusable cup, bags and make some cutlery if you’re going to be eating out, but mainly I mean planning what you’re going to eat for the week. This can seem a little annoying if it isn’t something you usually do, but trust me, being prepared means you won’t be running out to your local shop looking for plastic free sweet potatoes (which if you live somewhere like me, just isn’t possible). Plus it’s going to encourage you to try new things! (Look in some the previous #plasticfree posts for some of our faves).
Being prepared also gives you the time to find plastic free alternatives and shop around a little. As an example, the peanut butter we usually bought comes in a plastic container so we simply changed brands to one that comes in glass.
Make your own
There’s likely to be some things, as you move towards buying less plastic that you really want but it kind of just jars with your conscience to buy. This is where making your own / the internet can become your best friend. For yogurt we used thick coconut milk, whisked it up and stored it in the fridge. We made our own hummus (recipe here), and even our own tofu (recipe to come).
Don’t be afraid to ask
I know that it can seem kind of rude (classic British problem) to put all you veg separately through the till at the supermarket but we never came across anyone that minded. If you can’t find something not wrapped in plastic ask - in our experience the lovely humans who own fruit and veg shops and stalls were really interested what we were doing, our local shop allow us to bring cartons and bags back to be reused. We bought our own paper bag for the bakers. And if you eat meat or fish both supermarkets and independent counters will be really helpful too.
This was something we got asked a lot about and the simple answer is Lush. They do everything from suncream to shampoo plastic free, and what does come in plastic you bring back and the recycle in house. Since the time we did this The Body Shop have also started something similar along with their campaign Plastics For Change.
Will we go back? What changes are permanent?
Yes and no. At the start of our plastic free challenge Gareth and I were predominantly plastic free anyway. We bought veg loose (you don’t need bags even at supermarkets, just pop them in your trolly), oats in cardboard, tetra-pack milks and glass bottled juice… but we did have a few items we were finding difficult to shake; yogurt, berries, hummus and tofu being the main culprits. This challenge forced us out of those habits and to look for alternatives.
We have our homemade alternatives now for yogurt and hummus, and get berries from our local fruit and veg shop. As for tofu we will see. Our aim for now is to make it most of the time, but to allow ourselves the grace when we are in a rush or have forgotten to put the soy beans to soak (a step in making the tofu) to go out and grab some.