This was a really interesting challenge. My goal were to eliminate Plastic from the following places…
1. Liquid soap
2. Toothbrush for my son
3. Crisps and savory snacks
4. Drinks in plastic bottles
We did fairly well overall – the biggest success was making our own liquid soap and reusing the old dispensers for it. Normally we use bars of soap but there are a couple of strangely designed sinks in this house which won’t accept them. I will definitely be carrying on with this one. It was better for the environment in every way (better even than buying Ecover), much cheaper and really very easy. It also provides me with a way of using up the little pieces of soap shrapel I do collect from the bars.
I discovered (just in time!) from Westy Writes that the alternative to a plastic tooth brush (the bamboo one) sheds it’s bristles really badly and will nott stand up to the robust attentions of a toddler. So unfortunately we stuck with plastic here.
Crisps and Snacks – we did pretty well throughout the month by either eating homemade cheese straws or going without. It was only right at the end I realised I could have been making Kale Chips the whole time (doh!) but ultimately I don’t have the time to make potato crisps from scratch and the cheese straws whilst delicious were a bit rich in the end.
Drinks in plastic bottles (except Milk) – again we did really well, I bought a sigg water bottle and remembered to take it to most of the important places. But I have back slid on this a little since August started but it will be easier in the Winter when I drink more herbal tea.
Yoghurt – this was my big disaster. I made two attempts at making Yoghurt and both times it was terrible. I will crack this. Making my own yoghurt will save us a lot of money and a lot of plastic and I’m sure I can do it. This great tutorial from Zero Waste Chef will be essential (I probably need to start by buying a new thermometer!)
During the month lots of other things happened…
Firstly I became so much more mindful in my consumerism. I ditched lots of other products because of disposable plastic, many things that weren’t in my list of 5. I discovered that the Ethical Superstore’s packaging has very little plastic in it and all the cardboard is recycled. That Dr Bronner Soap comes in paper wrapping with no plastic.
I discovered there is plastic in tea bags and that if I want to buy milk which is organic (i.e. more sustainably farmed) and where the farmer is paid a fair and liveable wage for their work then I have to buy it in plastic bottles. I found a lot of these compromises over the course of the experiment and it was sad to realise that there is no one true path to being Green these days. There is only the least worst option for most things you need to buy.
I spent a lot of time wondering about plastic recycling and how good it really is. This great post from Treading My Own Path – confirmed a lot of my fears about how recycling plastic is no magic bullet solution. We have to stop/reduce buying it in the first place.
Once I started thinking about the problem of plastic, I realised it is everywhere! I always thought we were pretty Green, but frankly I’ve come out of NPJ in equal parts inspired to take more action and despairing that I can make a difference. This led to my writing the really popular 5 Ways to Beat Eco Burnout Post that I’m really proud of.
I learnt some new skills, picked up new information but best of all I met lots of cool bloggers and amazingly interesting people.
Roll on Zero Waste Week!