Living the plastic free life
Last week the whole MightyFineThings & Coxy’s team attempted to live entirely plastic free, if you were following our progress on social media then you’ll know we had a very interesting week, there were highs & there were lows. Here’s how we did……..
We mainly used up what we already had in the fridge & cupboards & sort of put off going out & looking for non-plastic wrapped food. One of us needed a notepad & accidentally bought one with the brightest pink non recyclable plastic cover imaginable & only realised when it was too late! Doh! Another had to dodge a plastic bag from a well meaning member of lady in the supermarket who really wanted to put our totally recyclable paper bag of flour into a plastic bag. We started to realise that over packaging is the norm & this week could get tricky.
Started on a positive note, The Goods Shed by Canterbury West Station is selling soft fruit in paper pulp punnets & most of their veg is loose & sold in paper bags too! Brilliant news, just as we thought we’d have to give up strawberries for the week. Murray’s General Store at The Goods Shed also sells Hinxden milk in glass bottles, thank you!! One of the team was out & about for the day minus a packed lunch & struggled to find any food other than chips that wasn’t plastic wrapped. Settling on a sandwich from a large chain, the packaging which initially looked like cardboard with just a small plastic window, turned out to be completely covered in plastic inside & therefore not recyclable. Unseen plastic is a problem we hadn’t anticipated!
Finding lunch in a big supermarket was a real challenge, we found carrots, tomatoes & bread in paper, but all the meat & cheese was plastic wrapped. We raided the tins & jars instead & found olives in glass & tins of soup. Supermarkets are just a sea of plastic once you become aware & stop buying it. We had more luck at Macknade where a lot of their fresh produce comes in paper, staff are happy to fill your container from home with cheese or meat & they have started a new self serve dried goods initiative! We got a little carried away. One of the team visited Lush & switched to solid shampoo & conditioner bars, each bar lasts the equivalent of 3 standard sized bottles of shampoo, which adds up to save a whole lot of plastic over a year. You can also return their packaging to them & they will recycle it & keep using it, they call it a Closed Loop System.
We braved the supermarket once again for eggs (hooray for recyclable egg boxes!) and for some fish. This time remembering to take a Tupperware container, the fish counter staff were happy to oblige & simply stuck the barcode label to the top of the container and guess what? The customer before us was also doing the same thing, it was really reassuring to know others are pioneering this way of shopping too, she recommended Guppie bags for washing clothes & a brand of toothpaste that comes in a glass jar.
We visited Unboxed in Canterbury, local pioneers of the unpackaged, they opened in April & week on week word seems to be spreading. Here you can fill a paper bag or bring your own container. The beauty of this system (same as the one Macknade have just installed) is that if you fill your own kitchen container you just unpack your shopping straight into your cupboards, no half eaten packets or decanting needed. They sell dried fruit, seeds & nuts, pulses & grains, flour, sugar, tea, coffee, plus household essentials & fruit & veg.
One of us totally gave in to cravings & bought & ate a multibag of crisps, none of the packaging can be recycled. On a more successful note a trip to Medway meant we stopped of at McGuire’s deli in Chatham Dockyard & bought a big chunk of cheese wrapped in paper with a small amount of plastic & discovered Bees Wax food wraps, a reusable, washable alternative to cling film, made by the Upnor Honey Co. We also found Austen’s of Rochester who wrap fresh bread in paper, sell soft fruit in paper punnets, have biodegradable carriers & reusable bags for sale too.
Our local supermarket is now selling loose local eggs, we couldn’t work out if we could bring our own box or not though, unfortunately they haven’t yet switched to paper bags in the veg section, although it was on the news they intend to. A visit to MBFarms in Faversham was more fruitful, milk in glass bottles, meat, cheese, deli food wrapped in paper. Faversham market also got the thumbs up from us, the smaller veg stall collects back their plastic punnets & egg boxes & glass fruit juice bottles to reuse them whenever possible.
Buying shopping after 5.30pm when the independent shops have shut means buying plastic is unavoidable, particularly fresh food, like milk, meat, cheese & deli food. So being organised, supporting small local businesses & buying during the day was essential. We found that we had to eat a fresher less processed diet to do this, so we ate lots more fruit & veg, grains & less meat. We unexpectedly also spent less by shopping like this, using up what we already had, shopping with a plan & not wasting any food. We each collected the week’s plastic & although none of us managed an entirely plastic free week, we significantly reduced the plastic by about ⅔︎.