Some statistics are just scary….

PLASTIC STRAWS
One of the easiest ways to reduce plastic – just say no to these…or buy metal straws if you are desperate! 

I am doing various essays at the moment. One of these is exploring our use of “plastic” or more accurately our attitude to plastic and how it relates to issues of our economically encouraged consumer culture. As part of this essay I am finding some rather scary statistics out (or in a number of cases re-finding). To be honest our relationship to plastic can only be deemed unhealthy in many areas of our life and I just wanted to share with you a few of these statistic that keep me re-focusing on why we are constantly trying to live without plastic and eliminate it from our lives as much as we can. (Un?)Happy reading – I hope they might give you energy as you strive to make whatever small changes you feel are possible:

  1. “According to estimates, at the rate we are dumping items such as plastic bottles, bags and cups after a single use, by 2050 oceans will carry more plastic than fish and an estimated 99 per cent of seabirds will have ingested plastic.” (Kamal, B., Global Issues, 2017).
  2. “a plate of six oysters can contain up to 50 particles of plastic.” (BBC News, 2016). We are now eating plastic folks….
  3.  “a single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean.” (BBC News, 2016). This refers back to the use of microbeads. Thankfully this is being fazed out in products but it this is one heck of a statistic. I wonder how many of us have unused up products from face scrubs through to toothpaste with these microbeads in and how many of us (me included) have used these in the past and added thousands to our oceans.
  4.  300 million tons of plastic are produced globally each year. Only 12 per cent of this amount is recyclable. (Knapton, 2017)  This is why reducing (or refusing as some like to say) our use must always come above re-using and re-cycling.
  5. “In the UK alone we generate 3 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, 56% of which is used packaging, three-quarters of which is from households.” (Plastic Free U.K., n.d.) I imagine this does not sound so bad against the 300 million above, but remember how small we are in comparison to many other places in the world and remember this only refers to waste. We are generating a fair lot of plastic waste for our size. The biggest issue is households – I wonder what you could change in your home that would reduce your plastic waste? See below about Plastic Free July challenge*
  6. “Every year an estimated 2 million tonnes of Electrical and Electronic Waste items are discarded by householders and companies in the UK. The items include anything which has a plug or battery.” (BRF, n.d.)  A lot of technology and electrical equipment is a challenge to recycle. A lot of it is made of plastic and we are always encouraged to buy more/ upgrade our technology. Ideally you will either not upgrade/buy more or re-use it or find someone else who can. For folks looking to find places to recycle these items and reduce landfill it is worth searching here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/weee-list-of-local-authority-designated-collection-facilities/weee-list-of-local-authority-designated-collection-facilities (last updated Nov 2016) to see where your nearest local authority place is.
  7. “An area of plastic and other trash in the North Pacific Ocean is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch; it covers twice the area of Texas. Here, waste materials from across the ocean are drawn together by currents. There are four other such ocean areas around the world.” (Horning, 2016) We are creating state-sized rubbish sites without even realising it…
  8. Plastic bags take more than 1,000 years to break down. In reality, recycling does not work because the bags are made of such low-quality plastic that it costs more to recycle them than they are worth. (Love, 2008) We finally now have the 5p tax on plastic bags – which is great but the points still stand. We must reuse the plastic bags we have for as long as possible and then recycle them (even if it costs more, it would cost the planet more for them to be discarded).

 

*You want to try and reduce your plastic – why not take on this challenge: http://www.plasticfreejuly.org/ Over 60,000 people take part and you can sign up from 1 day to one week – have a go and see what small changes you could make that might make a world of difference!

 

References

BBC News, (2016) Plastic microbeads to be banned by 2017, UK government pledgeshttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37263087 Accessed 19 May 2017

BRF (n.d.) Plastics Recycling http://www.bpf.co.uk/Sustainability/Plastics_Recycling.aspx Accessed 18th May 2017

Horning, K. C. (2016) Performance With Purpose U.S. Catholic 81 (11), p12-17

Kamal, B. (2017) Inter Press Service UN Declares War on Ocean Plastic http://www.globalissues.org/news/2017/02/23/22902 Accessed 19th May 2017

Knapton, S. (2017) Supermarkets urged to create plastic-free aisle in every store.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/02/10/supermarkets-urged-create-plastic-free-aisle-every-store/ Accessed 19th May 2017

Love, M. C. (2008) The Green Isle: “We focus on recycling waste; the Irish focus on reducing it.” American Press 198 (7), p.8

Plastic Free U.K. (n.d.) Bad Plastic http://plasticfree.co.uk/bad-plastic-2/ Accessed on 19th May 2017 

 

Review of Bee’s Wrap as an alternative to plastic

We were lucky enough to be bought some Bee’s Wrap products from a lovely friend for Christmas. They are just about hitting the U.K. market now after having, it would seem, some success in America. And I figured a review of them might be quite useful for folks who may want to switch their plastic sandwich bag habit. It might, also, be useful for those just wanting to find alternative to foil or having lots of containers in their fridges and cannot decide whether these are worth the price. Anyway, continue reading if this might be you…

Now, anyone who knows me very well knows I love bees. I have a not-so-secret wish of one day either owning my own bee hive or (and perhaps more realistically) joining in with a group of bee keepers. I love how bees work in community. I love how they look. I love that they are the symbol of Manchester from where a lot of my family comes from (look out for them on the bins around Manchester if you ever visit there). They even made it onto our wedding spoons because I loved them so much (and my fella says he is from Manchester).

Anyhow, anything with bees is likely to be a big hit with me. And to a large extent this has been a big hit. However, it is not just bees that contribute to these alternative wraps. As the website says, this is an infusion of “organic cotton with beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin” which “a washable, reusable, and compostable alternative to plastic wrap.” (BeesWrap, n.d. ). They are, as far as I can see after several months of use, well crafted and designed carefully in order to last a long time.

Our lovely friend bought us a pack that was designed for wrapping bread in. And then a pack that contained three different sizes. And below is my review of each of them.

bees wrap bread

 

Bread pack

I actually am surprised to say I really liked this. We do have a bread bin so currently try to keep our bread as long as possible in this. However, I found by placing the bread in the bees wax first kept it actually a little longer (maybe an extra day or two) than just placing the bread inside the bread bin (with or without it’s paper packaging).

One concern I had  with the wraps at first was the smell. When any of them (big or small) first come out of the packet they do smell quite strongly (I guess you can imagine why when you look at the list of ingredients). Indeed, I was worried it would transfer over to the bread. I am pleased to say it does not. Overall I really like the bread one – and fits what I would consider a Medium sized loaf comfortably (truly large ones would struggle). The wax wrap bends to your hands easily – becoming less stiff over use. If you can accept that this is a high end purchase it can be a useful way of keeping bread longer. I suspect if you didn’t own a bread bin this would be invaluable.

Our pack of Three different sizes (including a sandwich carrying size)

Our pack of three different sizes have helped keep fresh a variety of foods. We have used the sandwich one a number of times when we haven’t wanted to take a full on lunch box. It does the job very well – keeping the sandwich fresh with no transference of the smell. It bends to hands easily. I would say you would struggle to add in more than one round of sandwiches (size wise) but then you could use a larger size if you are after a bigger lunch.

The others have been used to wrap over the tops of dishes that are being kept in the fridge when we might typically use foil. They have also been used over vegetables and fruit that have been cut in half and do typically keep the vegetables and fruit that little bit longer than if they had been wrapped in foil (or at least that is how it seems in our house). We have also wrapped our cheese in it and again it seems to manage well. I can’t decide if the colours (like the one wrapped in purple below) remind you that you have the food still to use up though, leading to less waste, rather than they are more affective than foil, but either way we seem to have less waste. This can only be a good thing.

image1

 

Overall I would really recommend this set of three as a purchase, even more than the bread one (unless you don’t have a bread bin). These have many uses. Also, I can see they might last longer than the recommended year (it would depends on the durance of its malleability, I guess).  I love how easy they are to clean (wipe down with coolish washing up water and leave to dry) and then fold away.

I can’t test out their compostability until a lot later (if I have my way 1+ years away) but like the idea of them being compost friendly.

Overall

These don’t come cheap but may be worth the investment. This is worth it if you can see it in terms of replacing buying foil (for a number of things) and cling film (for a lot of things) and potentially sandwich bags. They are starting to appear in some places in the U.K. and are available online in the U.K. such as thewisehouse (see below). I would recommend them so long as you aren’t vegan (sorry folks) and recognise that there is a distinct smell on arrival that goes with use. Hope this has been useful for folks – and happy purchasing.

References

Bees Wrap. (n.d). OUR STORY. Bee’s Wrap. Retrieved 25 March 2017, from https://www.beeswrap.com/pages/about-us

U.K. Online purchase 

The Wisehouse https://www.thewisehouse.co.uk/ourshop/cat_953692-BEES-WRAP-NATURAL-FOOD-WRAP.html  – U.K. online source to buy them ranging from 9-15 pounds.

Lent: Basic Beginner Guide to Going Plastic Free for 40 days

It is coming up to Lent (starts this Wednesday, 1st March with Ash Wednesday). Lent is a time when some folks give or take things up. One option might be giving up buying plastic stuff but for some this may seem very daunting. So, I just wanted to offer a beginner’s basics for those wanting to try to live plastic free so that if it is something you are thinking about having a go for 40 days you have at least a beginning point.

Toilet Roll

Get your loo roll sorted. Eco-Leaf (google, though other search engines are available) is a good shout – available online and can often be bought in co-operatives. It’s outer-packaging (often the problem point of loo rolls) is made from potato starch so it does decompose. You can also get a kitchen towel from Eco-Leaf with the same packaging ( though may decide a dish-cloth will do)

Who Gives A Crap – is a new company that also does loo roll that is plastic free, currently sold out BUT look fun and 50% of profits go to building toilets in other parts of the world.

There are other ones but I have happily used Eco-Leaf and they do deliver in cardboard boxes. It is worth noting for all things bought online it is worth adding in any comments box (if you can) please deliver not in plastic or with any plastic packaging. Eco-Leaf is often found in co-operatives too – so check your local one out.

Brushing your teeth

Toothbrush – I get mine from here https://savesomegreen.co.uk/product/bamboo-toothbrush/  I go for Bamboo head as a preference

Other options are available though:

Toothbrushes:  http://gobamboo.co.nz/about-us/stockists/

Toothbrushes http://zerowasteshop.uk/

Things to watch out for – if you are vegan/veggie sometimes the brush heads aren’t ideal for you. Occasionally the brush heads are still plastic (so just check what you are buying)

Homemade Toothpaste (be aware it has no fluoride in it – I have blogged earlier about this one and how I felt about it, do have a read if your considering going to make your own).  One Recipe that seems to have worked for a number of people: 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 2 tablespoons of organic coconut oil, 10-15 drops of peppermint oil and 1 drop of clove oil,(not essential and maybe difficult to source without a plastic lid) 1 drop of clove oil. (Store in a glass jar) 

Shavers

http://www.traditionalshaving.co.uk/268151-Safety-Razors – Prices start from £22 – Where I bought from and can recommend – check that the content is all non plastic as this company has a variety of handles. Also ask for nothing wrapped in plastic/ protected by plastic instead – perhaps be specific and explain fully you are wanting to give up plastic completely!

Again I wrote a blog post with more options for those out there who are interested in seeing what else there is have a look here: https://livingwithoutplasticinenglandblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/for-my-male-and-female-friends-who-want-to-shave-without-always-using-disposable-plastic-razors/

Period Stuff

Mooncup or equivalent – They work like tampons (but in my opinion better) and are far more sustainable. Can be bought at Boots (Mooncup) or online.

Sanitary Towels which are reusable ones. I bought mine from Precious Stars (http://www.preciousstars.net/shop.html)  – They do have some plastic in (but overall worth it as you will be reusing for years) unlike the disposable ones which use a lot of plastic. I know some folks who make their own (I was not so brave) but this might be a thing to have a try at if you want to go completely plastic free.

https://livingwithoutplasticinenglandblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/the-period-post-for-all-my-female-friends/ – I have a longer post on this one which may be worth a read as it has more options. 1.5 years on I have no regrets over my buys.

Shampoo and soaps

Lush is your new best friend – it has shampoos/ conditioners ect and soaps container free – no issue. It also does some ready-made deodorants that come not in plastic.

Other places are probably available depending on your locality but Lush is found in most major cities in the U.K. so a good start.

Cleaning Products

Fall in love with Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and Bi-carb. You can get ACV in glass bottles pretty easily and Bi-Carb in Cardboard (try Wilkos)

I put a 1 water: 3 mix of ACV in a pre-owned (mine is now around 2 years old) quirting bottle (this works for bathroom and kitchen surfaces) and then just use as you would a “normal” cleaning product.

For Tougher stains I tend to put the Bi-Carb stuff immediately down onto surfaces (make it into a paste if needed by adding a little water). Leave a few moments and then add in my home-made stuff.

Eco-over re-fill products for things like washing up liquid are a brillinat – a lot of small independent co-operatives will have them.

Dishcloths, generally, become your best friend – easy to wash and cheap to buy from any market. They can be used for dishes through to cleaning out showers. Just don’t get them mixed up. You can even make your own if you are a keen knitter.

For hard pans (you know when it gets burnt on 😉 ) you can get wooden brushes for pans – http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/like/172498971708?lpid=122&chn=ps&adgroupid=40176066202&rlsatarget=pla-279594514985&adtype=pla&poi=&googleloc=9046639&device=c&campaignid=738210941&crdt=0 . I buy these now at a local co-operative in Derby and you can just replace the head each time – am sure it is again worth checking out your local co-op.

Laundry

You can also get Laundry re-fillable from Ecover too – easy to sort once you have discovered your local Co-operative. Another alternative is there are a lot of cardboard based Laundry powder at most supermarkets. Some folks won’t want all the chemicals in these though (just as a heads-up).

Deodorants

This is tricky if you have sensitive skin. For a while I used just bi-carb; bi-carb mixed in with coconut oil. I did this for just over 6 months and then developed an allergy. At the moment this is still a part this is plastic in my life along with toothpaste. Hippy Paste (google) do some ready to go deodorants which are nice and I wish I had used from the off – but now can’t as defo have an allergy! Lush as mentioned before are a good starting point.

Always Leave home with:

Water bottle and or mug to hold hot drinks in. Take out a knife and fork (in case you get take-out food on the go), a lunch box (whatever you already own) to put food in, plenty of bags. If you are inclined to get “hangry” start baking stuff to take out with you or always have a banana around. Grabbing plastic-free snacks is not the easiest thing in the world.

And just stop using straws (say no at bars when ordering a soft drink). If your desperate metal ones can be sourced (info in a previous blog post) , but in reality, you don’t “need them”.

Food

Tea bags contain plastic. You can buy loose leaf tea first time (more expensive) and then take the tin back and just get re-filled (it is cheaper). Obvious one is Whittards but suspect looking locally in your area you might have an independent tea house.

Coffee – Douwe Egberts Coffee – Comes almost plastic free – (it has a plastic/rubber seal) but it can be reused (for various re-fills for various products). Maybe not one for the purest out there but a good compromise. Real coffee can be bought plastic free pretty easily if you already own a grinder.

Find a local veg market ASAP – always shop with your own carrier bags (and take more than you think you will need)

Cereals – Aldi – do Weetabix that is in a cardboard box or buy porridge oats (available most places)

Bread – either make your own or go for Warburton’s as this comes in wax coated paper.

Pick butter over margarine (but fear not you will hardly eat any processed food because that is all in plastic so this switch is easy)

Milk and Juices Milk and More Online – This is where I found my milkman. It is company that pretty much operates in most major cities and in a fair number of less major ones too (I currently live in a village and they deliver) though if you find a more local one it is great to have choice :). With Milk and More you can organise your delivery online and is in my opinion the  easiest way to get a milk delivered. You can also get bottled apple juice, orange juice ect.

Olive Oil – you can buy in glass (it will be more expensive though but also nicer)

Rice – you can get online not in plastic – such as : http://www.naturallygoodfood.co.uk/Rice/Rice_Brown_Long_Grain_Indica_-_non_organic_25kg .It might be worth checking out co-operatives (this is where we tend to get things like pulses and some have got rice in containers too) – Again take containers with you to fill in (we take with us Kilner jars we pre-owned but anything would do).

Pasta – bad news – we make our own…but it is easy. 1 egg to 100g of flour (normal flour does work…there is also a thing such as pasta flour which tastes even nicer and has clear instructions on them). I have a blog post on how to do it if you go in for this. Full instructions here: https://livingwithoutplasticinenglandblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/27/home-made-pasta-living-non-plastic/  The only pasta I have ever managed to get plastic free was a Sainsbury’s basic lasagne sheet pasta. Making your own means you can put in different herbs to it too.

Chewing Gum. Avoid this at all costs (as for the majority of products readily available it will contain plastic in it.  There are a few companies internationally that don’t but not many and not easily (checking out that the packaging is plastic free is v. difficult to ascertain). Trebor Extra strong mints can be a good swap if you want to have a minty-feeling moment at some point – comes in paper packagine.

Cheese and Meat– take your own container (for either meat or cheese) or invest in wax paper (for cheese) to your local butcher/ deli counter. Chat with them about why you are doing what you are doing and most will be able to work with you in some way.

Veggie Stuff  – veggie sausages are available in cardboard (they come in various varieties from Quorn to Linda Mcartney) as are things like Chicken Kievs for those moments when cooking from scratch is just too hard.

Pizza – Make from scratch as no one bought in a supermarket is plastic free on the inside

All tins (pretty much) have plastic on the inside –so this is out for the next month. However, you can get things like: Peanut Butter, Tomato Sauces, home-made cheese sauces (with your glass bottled milk and brought home in your own container cheese) so I don’t think you will go hungry.

Coconut Milk – this is a sad one, as yet I can’t find coconut milk either in a block that doesn’t have it plastic outer packaging or in a tin.

Places of helpful support

On Facebook – Plastic is Rubbish – Group that offers tips/ asks questions specifically on plastic things.

On Facebook – Zero Waste Heroes! –  Made up of folks trying to live as close to a Zero waste life as possible.

Blogs – just search Plastic free and there are a fair number of us trying to do it out there.

If folks have a go at giving up plastic, it would be lovely to hear how you find it and any reflections on the whole experience.

Grey Area Number 3: Growing Your Own Vegetables….

So we are just starting out our attempt at growing vegetables this year. Last Saturday was spent prepping the garden as it really was the first dry enough, not cold enough day this year. The soil looks good – a bit too much clay but lots of worms which bodes well.

We went to the garden centre to get our potatoes – we really want to get the crop going as soon as possible (early march). Growing our own vegetables is (we hope) exciting and rewarding and a skill we will get better at. Last year we just didn’t give it enough prep time and got very little harvest. This year we hope to do better. The only thing is growing your own does seem to involve a little plastic. It is another smaller greyer area.

potato.JPG

Let’s take the potatoes as an example. They came in a plastic net ( a bit like you would get your satsumas or oranges from in a large supermarket). We couldn’t get ones that were early and not in this netting from our local garden centre place. We decided to buy for a few reason. Firstly, the ease  and the fact it is nice to support local places rather than massive corporate establishments. Secondly, we figured that overall we would be reducing plastic along the production line by growing our own. Although, you can buy potatoes plastic free (and we do weekly – both baked and sweet potatoes) we figured that there is a high chance that at some point in either their production point or more likely transportation point plastic will have been used, thus growing our own overall reduces plastic.

Now we do have some vegetables (carrots) that are in seed form which obviously reduces the plastic over the potatoes. But in reality it felt  unavoidable if we wanted to grow potatoes to not end up buying plastic (and yes it is the worse form – one time use only…unless saved for other things such as crafts). I read a lot of zero waste blogs and am constantly admiring them but I do wonder how other gardeners who are aiming to reduce plastic and become more closer to zero waste manage – are folks really growing everything from seed and living “regular” non-alternate lives? How plastic-free is your vegetable growing those doing it?
Our potatoes are now just chilling out in a mix of owned containers and egg boxes waiting to “chit” and be ready. Here is hoping that this is the right call and we will be reducing our plastic by having a healthy potato crop this year.

Grey Area no. 2: Eating and Drinking outside the home…

This is one of those Grey areas that I am looking at and trying to evaluate. Up until now we haven’t really considered much about our eating out habits. In some ways we don’t do them often as a couple (although there are peak times like Christmas and around Birthdays). However, I go out a lot more than Steve and therefore this is one of those areas that is definitely more relevant to me than Steve right now.

Each week I leave home and go by train (with my hot tea in a flask) to study Contextual Theology as part of my training for Ministry in the Moravian Church. I manage to avoid all the obvious foods out that contains plastic (so I don’t go in for station snacks really but whenever I have they are the things like cake – served in paper bags). My drink is covered whilst I travel – either with my flask or metal water bottle water. Easy.

But then I get to college. Now at college we have a system whereby you can use a clicks key and get access to drinks (that come in plastic as standard). So I have abstained from this as of last year (I gave my last key away and haven’t collected it this year). HOWEVER, I do use the student kitchen where I have access to milk (in a plastic container) and a tea bags (which as we know contains plastic) and I do use these rather than take my loose tea with me or botttled milk (this feels totally unrealistic). Yet, I am wondering whether actually this Grey area of my life is O.K. as in reality to be truly non plastic and have hot drinks I could just go in for hot water (better for my teeth too).

For a while I was taking in Herbal teas (which seem a little better as it avoids the use of the milk which comes in plastic) but the difficulty is that even the teapigs ones (which are biodegradable in theory) do take a long time to decompose. It is starting to make me think that perhaps this was and is not the best choice. It is in simple areas of life like this that I tend to stumble the most and get puzzled the most. I do LOVE tea you see… Furthermore, I recognise compromise is a part of life but I am wondering whether to try the whole use up herbal tea bags and then go in for just drinking hot water. Before I do this though I wonder if you have any suggestions? Is anyone out there aware of another idea for a tea lover?

food-out

I also go out each week (ish) and eat with my friends from college at a fairly cheap place. Eating out generally is actually the area I am not quite sure how to deal with in relation to my ambition to go plastic free as in reality eating out is a part of my life but probably involves plastic at some stage because right now the food supply industry is so in love with plastic. Currently, I have done nothing with this area of my life at all but am wondering what I could do, at least in terms of choices of meals perhaps to reduce the amount of plastic to construct my meal. For instance, would vegetarian be better in terms of plastic than a meal that contains meat…I am not sure but wonder what you guys think?

Life is full of grey areas. Areas of doubt and compromise. Attempting to live plastic free in our second year is asking me what else could we do that is possible without ending up in the situation whereby life no longer has elements of “fun” to it. The second year feels about discerning the most sustainable, life-giving way to keep up this habit which is now almost a lifestyle. And for that reason it has to be fun. For Steve being vegetarian is a non option outside the house as for him eating meat is a “fun” luxury (no judgement please). For me I am still unsure on this. At college I am a pescatarian, at home a vegetarian and out sometimes (but not always) a meateater.  Equally I am equally unsure in terms of plastic if this is even worth thinking through as I have seen those vegetables at supermarkets and they love plastic….
Thoughts welcome.

Receiving Plastic as a Gift…

This has come up in conversation a few times, especially in the weeks before and after the Christmas period. It may seem like a strange one in some ways to blog about now, as a fair few people now know that we are trying to live as plastic free a lifestyle as we can, so you might assume this does not happen. However, there are times when plastic still comes into our house and one of these times is when it is brought in a gift form.

present

A classic time it enters our home is when friends come over for a meal. They often bring with them food/ drink etcetera wrapped in plastic or in plastic container of some sort. Now, I suspect there are some folks out there whose approach would be to take this as an education opportunity; to share with their friends all the negative side to plastic and thus reject the gift. However, it is not ours. At the very beginning we have tried to let friends know our vision but we are trying to not force our position on others. In our world view it is O.K. to be enthusiastic about something but not to enforce that view on others – we are big believers in choice. So when folks come to ours we don’t try and overtly convert them to our position – we might talk about why we are doing it but in reality never say  “You should be like this”.

There is also something about not rejecting the hospitality of others that is important to us. Sharing resources and gifts with one another is something that is an act of blessing and to reject any outwards sign of this blessing feels, frankly, wrong. (Although I can understand there are people out there who would do this). In the same way I would be pretty upset if someone turned their nose up at our newspaper wrapped gift I would assume that most people if you turned round and said ‘No, I can’t accept that because we don’t do plastic’ might be a little offended or at least saddened.

I guess this is one of those ‘grey’ areas of life and I suspect this will always mean that we are never truly plastic free but then I feel that life is a little full of compromises. That is not to say that we would actively encourage plastic gifts (trust us this is not the case) but we equally know that, say, the difference between a plastic drink and a bottled drink (especially non alcoholic) is rarely cheaper. Exploring grey areas are going to be the series of the next few blogs as this is definitely how our new year start seems to have begun…

Christmas and 2017….

It is that time of year again…

The time of year when we celebrate Christmas!!! For many of us this involves overindulging in lots of rich food, alcohol and present buying. It has to be said we in the Maxwell household are the same – we love Christmas for lots of reasons. It is the time of year when friends and families gather, when we celebrate Jesus coming to earth and when, for once, it is totally socially acceptable to eat as much chocolate as you want. What is not to love?!?

However, it is not the easiest time of year to go plastic free and if we are being honest we haven’t totally managed it. We have done 90% O.K. with present wrapping (see the last blog). However, some of our presents are plastic ones (a lot aren’t but some are), we are maybe only around 70%-75% plastic free. However, the ones that are plastic, are intended for long term use and in some, but not all cases, second hand. Also, we have done a lot of switching this year – trying to find “experience” gifts for our nearest and dearest or at least buying something that is not just for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and then never again. In this sense going plastic-free has really influenced our buying and has involved some more considered gift buying which has been fun.

We have also done pretty well with our food in the last month – managing to avoid buying plastic extras that can creep in (we haven’t a celebration box in sight). However, again we are away and buying completely plastic free isn’t easy when away from where you usually buy food. Although we have still managed to get loose veg wrapped up in our plastic free bags, we have ended up buying some plastic wrapped spinach and some rice.

All-in-all this Christmas we aren’t 100% plastic free and probably couldn’t have managed to be right now due to the friends we buy for and the fact we want to give appropriate gifts. However, we are still trying and we plan to keep trying; come January 1st 2017 we will not be stopping our plastic free living. We will be keeping going with a few minor adjustments and we hope you will keep going with us too. Our aim is still to try and be as plastic free as possible.

Our adjustments will be:

  • Claire – Face wash and moisturiser(it is in recyclable plastic and I plan to keep in dialogue with them)
  • Steve – DVDs and occasional soda cans.
  • The House – some Tin Cans ( this is due to us being slightly lazy but loving baked beans). However, we hope to keep this still very reduced.
  • Any work our car needs (this is sadly, for now, a non-negotiable due to our jobs).

These may seem minor adjustments but these are the things we have each missed the most and we figured it is about trying to keep this lifestyle as feasible as possible – whilst constantly re-evaluating what is important to us (it’s ironic but who thought baked beans would be so missed) alongside our commitment to try and be mindful about our contribution our lives have to either destroying or preserving this planet.

We just want to thank you for sharing our 2016 journey with us. We have had over 2,000 individual visitors read our blog over the year with close to 4,000 views. Most excitingly is that readers have shown interest in living a plastic-free life in all of these countries: Nigeria, Denmark, Uganda, Malta, Mexico, Estonia, India, Greece, Romania, Sweden, Philippians, Croatia, Italy, South Africa, Japan, Norway, Poland, Paraguay, Turks & Caicos Islands, Hungary, Netherlands, Swaziland, Austria, Kenya, Ireland, Bulgaria, New Zealand, France, Peru, Spain, Bolivia, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Australia, United States, Finland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. This, for us, is the most exciting thing to have noticed as surely this is a great sign of hope – people from all over the world are interested in caring for this planet we all share. Thank you for blessing us with this realisation that people all over do care about how they live their lives and we ask that you keep journeying with us as we move forward into the next year trying to limit our plastic and be consistent in our belief that we each can make a difference in reducing our use of plastic and holding companies accountable for the resources they create.