At the moment, we are still generating a lot of content for the plastic recycling bin – mostly in the form of supermarket packaging. It is a big frustration that the shops all use so much plastic packaging, most of which is not required. Imagine – a coconut that has been shrinkwrapped! How crazy is that? I hasten to add that I did not buy that item – that is just something I saw when in a supermarket one day. We must collectively put pressure on supermarkets and manufacturers to reduce quantities of single-use plastic.
We don’t buy anything in the way of ready-meals and mostly just buy basic stuff – vegetables (until the garden and polytunnel can take over), fresh and canned fish, pulses, flour. We have a shop delivered without bags, of course, but sadly it still arrives with a prodigious amount of plastic. Even fish bought from the local fish van comes wrapped in plastic. It is incredibly difficult to avoid the material.
As we begin to move towards our more self-reliant and sustainable life, reducing plastic waste is one of our primary objectives. These are some of the areas I have considered:
– Food: Growing our own vegetables. This is the big one and should make the biggest difference.
I was also surprised to learn recently that most uk tea bags contain plastic (used to seal the edges). That is definitely something I will be looking into further.
– Cleaning: Due to the septic tank we already use very few harsh cleaning products. I clean almost entirely using bicarbonate of soda and vinegar and have not had any problems with that. I also use bicarbonate of soda and apple cider vinegar to wash my hair which has improved its condition no end. I am using windfall apples that we found when we first moved in here to make my own apple cider vinegar for shampoo. It is currently fermenting away and should provide enough, once ready, to last until apple harvest in the autumn. Later, I may well start looking into making our own soap. Doing away with lots of cleaning products certainly reduces plastic use.
– Storage: There are many plastic-free products to use for freezing food, though many options are rather expensive. I will be looking into gradually replacing all plastic-ware with glass, metal and perhaps silicone options. We also plan to have a cold-store/pantry when we do up the outbuilding.
– Reuse Options: For now, I am using some plastic packaging for planting seeds. We will continue to reuse any plastic items we can and we will try wherever possible to repair existing items rather than buying new.
For individuals now, a plastic-free life is, in my opinion, an impossible aim. All we can do is reduce our plastic waste generation as much as possible and hope that with enough public pressure, corporations and governments will come to their senses.