Plastic, it’s everywhere we go, so much comes with a thin layer of cellophane or a plastic container these days that it’s taken for granted. Think about it for a minute though, if you wanted to live a plastic free life, could you do it? Would you have to make some changes, not only to the products you buy & where you shop, but lifestyle changes like planning your meals for the week, planning your shopping & making more at home rather than buying it? In our plastic-centric society it may mean a shift in attitude & habits & possibly mean living a more organised lifestyle. Giving this a go for a week is a challenge us MightyFineThings are setting ourselves this summer & we want you to join in too.
From 23-29th July you can follow how we get on by using the hashtag #myplasticfreeweek on instagram, we will also be posting about it on Facebook & Twitter. I’m expecting to be confronted with problems each & everyday, for instance where to buy toothpaste that doesn’t come in a plastic tube, or wrapping paper without cellophane wrap, Strawberries without a plastic punnet or what to get for dinner when only the supermarkets are still open? I’m going to have to get thinking, get stocked up on reusable containers (I know, more plastic right?) and be incredibly organised.
We try & do the right thing in terms of MightyFineThings & Coxy’s Kent Liqueurs, we switched to all paper cups & straws for our bar a while back, we use paper bags, cardboard packaging & glass bottles for most of our products, although we do sell a Fresh range of products at Macknade Fine Foods in Faversham & some of these are sold in compostable plastic tubs, as opposed to recyclable tubs, we are still working out what’s best for the environment. If you have some thoughts on this please get in touch with us.
Plastics are manmade, hard wearing, waterproof, cheap to manufacture & can be moulded into virtually any shape. Putting it like that it seems like the perfect synthetic material & since it was invented in 1907 until relatively recently that has been the popular opinion. However plastics have a dark side, they use oil in their production, they take anywhere between 450-1000 years to break down naturally & plastic pollution is everywhere. Some types of plastic can be recycled but it’s taking a long time to develop a joined up recycling system & shifting peoples attitudes after decades of carefree disposable life is an added challenge. Sir David Attenborough really made an impact with his most recent Blue Planet series, we saw the awful toll that plastics are having on our seas & wildlife. It’s estimated that plastic pollution in our oceans will treble in a decade if we don’t all do something now.
So what can we do? This is how we are going about it;
Number One is think about your life, your meals, your shopping, what is essential to you & your family & what could you change? It’s a change in mindset as much as changes in lifestyle. The phrase Reduce-Reuse-Recycle springs to mind. For instance do you need spring water in plastic bottles or could you invest in a water filter jug, do you need to buy tomatoes in a plastic tray or could you buy loose ones. Do you need a brand new set of plastic kids plates or can you buy some like new on Ebay? Is there a local milk round or a shop selling milk in glass bottles instead of plastic? Do you need to ring the council & organise recycling facilities for your address? Find time to assess what you can do on a small scale, because the change starts with each of us, our governments & businesses will only act if we demand the change.
Number Two is to buy & use less plastic, use canvas shopper bags that can be washed & last for years rather than plastic bags & keep one or two in the car. Shop where you can buy fresh food wrapped in paper, like greengrocers, butchers & bakers, cheesemongers, fish shops, even Morrisons is converting back to paper bags. If your local shops use plastic ask them to change to paper & take your own reusable container to be filled up. Lots of household products can be refilled in local health food shops, for instance washing up liquid & laundry detergents. Buying a product with zero packaging is the ideal, but buying in paper (toilet rolls, cheese, meat), card (eggs, veg) or glass packaging (milk, lemonade, olives etc) is second best. Look for alternatives, like solid shampoo & bars of soap rather than plastic bottled versions. Invest in a reusable coffee cup if you often buy takeaway tea & coffee, you also save money in coffee shops by doing this. Do you need 5 different types of hand cream in plastic tubes? Just saying.
Number three is recycle whatever waste your household creates, different local councils collect & recycle differently, so it’s our responsibility to find out what they can & can’t recycle, what type of bin to put it in & which day it goes out. Don’t waste their time by filling recycling bins or bags with non-recyclable items. In 2017 my local council collected around 13,400 tonnes of recycling, of this around 1,170 tonnes were rejected due to contamination, which means if we get better at recycling, they get better at recycling. In 1988 a system of categorising plastics was introduced, it’s a familiar sight these days, three ‘chasing arrows’ ♻ in a triangle with a number in the middle to denote the type of plastic. Most household plastic waste falls in to categories 1 (clear plastic food trays), 2 (milk containers) & 5 (thicker plastic & coloured plastic) plus I found a category 7 in the bathroom (my face cream). There is also a current shift towards compostable food containers & cups (these are also referred to as biodegradable) these compostable disposables are designed to be recycled in an industrial composting facility together with food waste, meaning your home compost heap won’t break these down at all as it simply won’t get hot enough. Although facilities don’t yet exist everywhere to do this, hopefully this is a sustainable solution for the future.
Number four is learning to make proper meals out of basic low cost ingredients so that your homemade lasagna beats any shop bought version in a plastic tray. You will save money by making your own meals, you will eat healthier food without unwanted preservatives & you can reduce on plastics by doing this. Everyone can learn, try Jamies 15 minute meals as a starting point.