A Month Without Plastic in the UK
Chris Jeavans looks like an ordinary British mom. Her quest, however, was not. She challenged herself and her family to live without buying anything plastic for a month. It only takes a moment of skimming down a shopping list to realize how tricky this could be…
In order to have something to compare to, she saved her family’s plastic for a month, without trying to reduce what she bought or was given. In that first month she collected 603 individual plastic items.
The next month started with a struggle up the no-plastic learning curve. How to buy bread and keep it fresh with out a plastic bag, how to care for a two-year-old son without plastic diapers, or what to line the kitchen garbage can with… Once she got rolling, her limits were clear but so were her alternatives: milk could be delivered in glass jars, a reusable water bottle solved having to buy plastic ones, and reusable shopping bags meant no more plastic film.
Supermarkets provided the most frustration, as avoiding plastic packaging was next to impossible. Although Chris found a few staples not shrouded in plastic, she discovered other options. Baking at home was one, though she doesn’t seem to be the home-maker type and didn’t get around to much of that. Buying from local food vendors and butchers was another. She could ask to have meat wrapped in paper, vegetables sold loose or bakery bread in a paper bag.
Another ‘sticky’ issue was taking care of personal hygiene without buying plastic. As a woman she had to address how to deal with a menstrual period without buying a plastic product. The issues of finding plastic-less deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste also came up. She even managed to find a wooden toothbrush, but had to live with the fact that it came packaged in plastic!
Finding footwear not made with plastic was difficult, as was remembering to pack reusable eating ware for a picnic get-together.
After her month of creative plastic evasion, Chris wound up with 116 plastic items: 63 of those were, admittedly, diapers, but made of ‘bio-plastic’ as she called it.
For more information on Chris’s no-plastic month, visit www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/monthwithoutplastic/.
Chris’s goal was not to demonize what she calls a very ‘useful and versatile’ material, but more a challenge to not have to dispose of any of it. If nothing else, it makes one realize how utterly dependant on plastic we have become.
Chris’s experience also serves to remind us of the power of the first ‘R’: Reduce. Not using it in the first place saves resources and saves our figuring out what to do with it when its usefulness to us is over. With intense effort, Chris managed an 80 percent reduction. I wonder how much we could reduce our plastic use if we applied a (slightly less intense) effort to our everyday habits.
(Source: August 2008 WasteWatch)
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