When did our lives become so plastic? Plastic chairs, plastic cups, plastic toys, plastic packaged food; where does it all go? We recycle as much as we can (and yes, with rural rubbish collections every 3 weeks this is as much out of necessity as environmental awareness) but still, our bins heave. Looking at the contents of our waste bin, much of that is plastic food packaging. We are not alone as 60% of household waste is packaging. Apparently 50% of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away. Our oceans swirl with billions of pounds of plastic, with sea birds and mammals being killed in abundance. Recycling is not the answer because once it is in existence, plastic never goes away and virtually every piece of plastic ever produced is still here in some shape or form.
It is shocking how much plastic we inadvertently buy just through our weekly shop. I confess to shopping mainly in Aldi for thriftiness and convenience, so every piece of meat is wrapped, sometimes twice, in plastic. Kindly, in some supermarkets I notice they bag the already bagged fish or meat, just in case of a leakage. The fruit and vegetables come mainly in plastic bags, and if they are loose then you bag them up too. Is this all necessary? Well according to the manufacturers, plastic packaging improves the shelf life of food and reduces wastage but it comes at a cost.
We live in rural Wales on a sheep and cattle farm, and have decided to give up plastic for lent. I am not sure that it will be possible to eliminate plastic entirely but I think it will be really interesting to choose more carefully what we buy, and also see how much we rely on plastic. We are a family of 5 just about to go into the lambing period, so time is going to be a big factor in this challenge! The big changes will be
- relying on an organic box and the greengrocers for fruit and vegetables
- buying meat from the butchers and being organised enough to bring a Tupperware box or ask for it to be wrapped in paper- does that even happen these days? Do I ask for it to be tied up with string too??
- getting our milk from the milkman, who doesn’t actually go to our farm but we can use a friend’s house in the village as a drop off point
I think the local town deli will be a good ally, as will the weekly market. Packed lunches for the kids, toilet paper, toothbrushes, toiletries, yoghurt, bin bags, toilet cleaner, dishwasher tablets…. the rest is an unknown quantity as of yet.
Wish us luck: we have 5 days to go!