OS GetOutside Champion, Anna Hughes gave it a try. Here she shares her top tips for how you could go plastic-free too.
Public awareness of plastic waste and the damage it does to the environment has increased dramatically in the past few months, helped in no small part by David Attenborough and Blue Planet II.
I took part in PlasticFreebruary to see if I could avoid using any single-use plastic for the month. Here’s how I got on.
Out and about
Travelling for work meant I was on the road for meal times, snack times and cup-of-tea times. I have a reusable mug for tea, and many places give you a discount if you bring your own cup – win/win!
A gift at one of my events was a tin water bottle, so no excuse to not carry plastic-free water in my handbag from now on.
Options for lunch/dinner have been to take my own food in a reusable tupperware pot or look out takeaways that use foil, cardboard or Vegware (compostable ‘plastic’). A favourite on-the-road meal was a wrap or burrito. I’ve missed being able to buy crisps, though.
I either bought an unpackaged loaf from the bakery or made my own. As a novice bread maker (with no machine) this was quite a challenge, but I loved the result and have continued to make my own since.
Store-cupboard staples and cleaning products
My local health-food shop stocks an impressive array of refills of everything from lentils, dried fruit and rice to herbs and washing-up liquid. I took my own pots to avoid their plastic bags. Soap and shampoo also comes in bars (I don’t actually wash my hair that often, so didn’t use shampoo this month. Great way to reduce your waste!)
Fruit and vegetables
Only loose veg in paper bags made it into my shopping basket this month. It sometimes restricted my choice, though only in the supermarket – if I went to a street market or fruit and veg shop, almost everything is unpackaged, plus it’s a much nicer shopping experience (and cheaper, too)!
It might be difficult to buy meat, cheese and butter without plastic packaging, so I get smug points for being vegan! #
A friend has started taking her own tupperware to the fishmongers, which sounds like a good solution. A doorstep delivery of milk comes in glass bottles.
Earlier this year, PG Tips said they would stop using plastic in their tea bags. The sealing process uses polypropylene, something that, until recently, wasn’t widely known among consumers.
I tried loose-leaf but given that the leaves themselves come in a plastic bag, I wasn’t convinced I was using less plastic. I prefer tea bags anyway (sorry – lazy), so I hope my preferred brand will follow PG Tips’ lead and start making tea bags from plant-based material.
I always take a reusable bag with me when I go shopping, so no change here.
Forcing myself to think about my plastic consumption meant I considered my purchases and changed some of my habits.
As more companies pledge to reduce the use of plastic in their products, hopefully it will become ever easier to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in our environment.
Re-using and recycling are important, but it’s best to remove it in the first place.
My plastic-free month showed me that, as a consumer, that's becoming more and more easy.
By Anna Hughes
Anna is a passionate cyclist, environmentalist and author.