Plastic Challenge: final weigh-in

Before you go any further, place your bets on how much plastic (in grams) I (and my partner) collected over the month of June…

Just in case you’d forgotten about last month’s venture, here’s a few last words on it, or pictures rather. I knew I wouldn’t last 30 days with zero single use plastic, due to lack of preparation and my love of the dishwasher, so I had my jar of shame on the windowsill, poised and ready. To be honest, most of it appeared within the first week. Some of it was avoidable – a nutritional yeast lid, packaging from my Splosh order, a straw… Some wasn’t, like the plastic envelope windows from my polling card and Labour membership.

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So I made it through 30 days producing a mere 40g of single-use plastic waste.

To compare, my partner very kindly offered to serve as the control, so collected his up even though he wasn’t doing the challenge. I had to stand on a stool to take the picture…

20170703_211845-1

This is 1.775kg of plastic waste, and I probably would have used similar. Andy says “I kept all the plastic I would have thrown away, not just single use. I was shocked how many tetrapaks I used, but at least they require less energy to make than plastic bottles. A lot of my waste was packaging from online shopping, which I do for convenience and price, but it is usually second hand. Not taking part myself, the Plastic Challenge was very impressive, but inconvenient and expensive. Our plastic issue could easily be solved by having a tax on non-compostable plastics – as compostable packaging already exists, but is slightly more expensive.”

Zero Waste inverted pyramid of waste: refuse, reduce, reuse, rot ...
From Going Zero Waste

There are countless lists out there on how to reduce your waste (Ecosia revealed 23,700,000 results for “zero waste tips”), but here are my favourite so far in my journey:

  • Make your own. Milk, tomato sauce, jam, cake, biscuits, crumpets – the more you do, the less packaging you’ll need. It can certainly be time-consuming, but adding one or two things to your routine can really make an impact.
  • Buy second hand – extra points if it’s from charity shops.
  • Organise a clothes-swap with friends. At work we have a semi-regular meet up where everyone brings unwanted clothes and drinks tea. It’s easier to let go if you know it’s going to a good home!
  • Shop at a greengrocer’s. Less packaging, fresher fruit and veg.
  • Get a veg box. Our local one is super cheap, super seasonal and I love playing Ready, Steady, Cook.
  • Simple swaps. Choose loose veg over plastic-wrapped, choose cardboard over plastic, loose leaf tea over teabags.
  • Bring your own – straw, reusable coffee cup, tote bags, paper bags, jars, tupperware containers. It starts a conversation and you feel great doing it!
  • Find your own way. Some things will be harder than you expected, some will be easier, but it’s up to the individual to work out what’s worth doing and what’s not. Give it your best shot!

Wednesday Wisdom: Kindness | The Small Kine Hippie

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