My completed Plastic Free Month!

This month!

I have to say, this month has been fantastic. I would never have been so strict or researched so much if it wasn’t for doing this for charity. I wouldn’t have felt so bad when I made the mistakes either though! I don’t think food or clothes shopping will be quite the same again. It has been really hard, but would have been boring if it wasn’t! I’ve seen a change in myself and even my friends in what they’re buying too…. and sending me photos of ridiculous packaging.

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I am looking forward to having my spice rack back… but I’m googling where I can get them in bulk/fresh in the future etc.

I have realised that I need a lot more space than the one freezer drawer I have at uni to help not needing packaging. Picking up fresh herbs and freezing them has been fantastic this month and would be great to have more space to freeze more.

I’m still getting used to shampoo and conditioner bars, I’m either using too much or too little and having to deal with the consequences. But it’s a no brainer that I’ll  be sticking with them. Shops like Lush are pretty much all around me so I have no excuse to be going back to liquid forms. They’re also easier to carry with me and are probably (though will need to do more googling)  gentler on the environment too. They aren’t particularly expensive and mine have lasted well over a month so far.

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Above is a photo of my deoderant and toothpaste & brush. I bought them from Boobalou. I really like the deoderant, worked really well for me. And the tin, when finished will come in handy for carrying my conditioner bar when i’m not using it. The toothpaste, i have liked. It took a while to get used to it and my teeth feel clean after it. I am hesitant to use products like this long-term in case they aren’t as good as the standard toothpastes. So i think I’ll do some more homework before re-buying it but i would definitely be happy to otherwise. My bamboo toothbrush is great. Again, it’s soft and took a bit of getting used to but would definitely buy it again. The deodorant and toothpaste i have been using for over a month too… just to show that they have lasted a really decent amount of time.

Washing up liquid. I’m going to trial around. I generally wasn’t very keen or impressed with the homemade washing solution. Left all of my stuff feeling grubby. But it’s definitely worth considering for the benefits. It made me clean my dishes straight away or use the power of boiling water a lot more…. So swings and roundabouts.

I have rediscovered my love for creating and baking my own things. Baking bread and making humus in particular. When they’re created by someone else they will always, to me, be loads nicer, but that could definitely be more of a treat than rather than how regularly i was buying them in before.

As long as I can get to a wholefoods/bulk buy shop I will definitely try to buy dried foods and pulses from there. Really it’s a no brainer again, when I already have containers, why not? It’s just the practicality of getting to the shop. The prices were not bad at all.

Eating out. This is where plastic free becomes impossible really. You have to assume that in a standard restaurant your food would have been packaged in plastic at some point. But arguably perhaps it was packaged in bulk.. So not as bad as buying the ingredients individually if cooking for yourself? I don’t know. But fast food is definitely something I’ll try to keep avoiding though I do have a massive craving for Pret’s herb wrap. If only they could come in paper! But equally, I bet I have saved a fair chunk of money by eating before I head out anywhere or bringing my own lunch. And healthier almost certainly too!

There were impractical things such as pens and highlighters that I really needed this month so I have used them occasionally but also had pencils to hand for when I could use either.

Drinks – I have made the mistake twice of turning away at the wrong moment and my drink been poured into a plastic cup or a straw being put into my drink. Pure, pure accident and so annoying because it was so unnecessary.

Reusable water bottles. Easy! Definitely worth it. Bring one around with me all the time now.

Medicines. – I doubt I can get around buying ibuprofen / anti-histamines differently. But certainly some come in less packaging than others so maybe it’s compromising and finding what does the least damage.

Clothes – I was able to get shoes without plastic in the end! Excellent. Its just the little tags you get in clothes. I read an article (link below) about the problems with polyester clothes. Subtly terrifying!
I think what I have learned is that actually stripping back and being able to only use the bare basics can be really liberating. It’s been quite fun thinking of alternatives.

It’s been so much simpler to basically say..

“well this is what I have, so this is all I can do”

and so rather than getting everything I want I have to make the best of what I have.

Not wearing make up has been easier than I thought. Not that I really wear a huge amount anyway. But any time that I need to look reasonably presentable I would normally wear something. I have missed it in a way but definitely something I’ll use less often… To make the occasion.

So what I’ve taken from this month is that it’s almost impossible to be totally plastic free unless you’re totally self-sufficient.. BUT, you can do so much to reduce what you do use! It’s just a simple seconds thought to look around in a shop and think what else I could use instead? Or if I could make this myself etc.

I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has donated this month, all the money will go to HIS-India and I am planning to do more things this year to raise a little bit more. And I want to thank everyone for their support and not finding it all too weird!

Below are some articles that I found throughout the month that I found to be worth a share

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-40498292

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/commentisfree/2017/jul/07/plastic-free-july-cutting-down-single-use-plastics-is-easier-than-it-seems?CMP=share_btn_fb

A lot of people end their ‘giving up for charity’ month with a selfie of them having a drink, or eating the chocolate they had given up. I don’t think it’s quite appropriate in my case!

I know it’s going to be difficult without the encouragement to not just buy everything in plastic again, especially when time is short or i haven’t had to chance to get organized. But I hope i keep it up from now on and remember the impact it has and why I did it in the first place.

Definitely recommend giving this challenge a go!

Thank you,

Rebecca x


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Plastic Free Month: 15 days in!!

Hey!

So the 2nd week has gone much better. I’m getting used to not being able to use plastic and how to get around it.  I have accepted that it just takes a bit of extra organizing and a bit of compromising.

Carrying water with me, eating before I head out, picking up fruit and veg and always carrying a bag, finding time to cook a big batch. Cleaning is easy, though I do want to order a scour sponge i’ve seen online that’s plastic free and friendly etc, cloths just aren’t cutting it! Carrying deodorant, toothpaste and breakfast with me when I stay elsewhere, it’s not actually that hard.

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I went to the opera at the weekend and because I can be a bit of idiot and forget things, I ended up arriving a lot later that i meant to. Worked out fine for the opera but meant we didn’t have time to grab some proper food. We had to pop to a shop to get some sandwiches/on the go food. There was absolutely nothing that I could eat in any of these shops. I did however find a bar of chocolate in only cardboard and foil! Bingo!! It was beautiful!

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I have definitely been eating more healthily again. (shes says after talking about chocolate). Although I have started buying things in jars, such as jams, chutneys and honey, peanut butter. I don’t usually buy them (to be a little healthier and because they can relatively expensive..ish.. and i tend to eat a lot in a short space of time) but they’re great for adding a bit of extra flavour to things.

I had a massive craving for cheese (again with the healthy eating?!) while I was shopping the other day. I had a tupperware on me and the guy behind the counter agreed to fill my tupperware up with cheese!! Best day ever! Only down side is that I did have to have a sticker. So not plastic free. However it did made me think about the benefits of buying in bulk. I could have bought a packet of cheese half the size and used more than double the plastic. This will definitely be something I’ll be keeping up after this month is over.

 

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One issue that I’m having at the moment is that I could really do with some new shoes and a new blouse or two. I keep going to have a look in shops and online and am either unsuccessful or see the plastic tag and just think.. I cant’!! So in that respect I’m saving quite a lot of money. And actually it really is making me use what I already have and is encouraging me to think about what I have and what I could do instead. It’s also encouraging me to not really care either.

The photo with the chocolate bar you can see my shoes, I’d have loved to wear sandles with that outfit. Those shoes were the daintiest/ not over the top and kinda smart? things I could justify wearing. I got to the point where I was running out of time and just said bleurgh who actually cares and walked out wearing them. And you know…nothing bad happened! Excellent!

I have also realised how much I’m starting to do by myself again. So I go through phases of trying to be self sufficient, i grew some vegetables and herbs a couple of years back when I was living at home and I loved it! Can’t do that at uni. But what I have started to doing is making my own bread, vegetable stock, crisps, meals from scratch, buying bulk herbs from markets and freezing them, buying fruit from markets and dehydrating, freezing them. I’m hoping to make some jam or use them in cakes as well as eating them for breakfast.

As well as food, I wanted to buy some flashcards for studying the other day, but obviously they all come in plastic packaging. I realized that actually i already have tons of card and could make my own.

I am just naturally thinking of alternative things I could do. And it’s been a really cool couple of weeks. Really difficult in some respects. I went to another BBQ on Sunday but this time bought frozen veggie burgers in cardboard with me and that was fine. I could have made my own! But didn’t have enough time haha.

There are definitely cons!

For example, all the dried food I bought from wholefoods came in paper bags and when tired I keep forgetting to double check what I’m actually pouring on my porridge….!!

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Also, I can’t easily receive flowers as a gift this month because they all come in plastic packaging. Quite gutting really !!  😉  … it also means that I can’t buy any too so i’m saving a small fortune in gifts xD

Rebecca xx

P.S loving all the Pride stuff coming up in London!! ❤


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To the older me 

Rebecca,

Lots of aspects of your life will change in the next few years. You have no idea what you will see, do and where you will end up. But the way you think now feels right and fair but still you have so much to learn and figure out.

Remember that you will never be able to second guess someone else’s story. Before you go to judge and put them into one your ingrained default stereotypes talk to them, learn about them. Realise how similar and different you are.

Remember where you grew up and what you saw. Remember the people you met and the situation.

At the end of each month, ask yourself if you’ve helped anyone, volunteered or donated your time or skills or donated money. If not, why?

Remember how you still want to change the world and still think it’s possible. Remember that you can still be settled and curious and explorative. Remember that if you are not happy with something you can change it.

Remember that you can’t just look out for yourself, you need to be able to see the bigger picture. Not everyone is in your position. Remember to practise being in other people’s shoes.

Remember that the world is not finite and that you simply can’t have everything you want. Compromise is good and healthy.

Remember to do the things you love and inspire it in others. Remember that you don’t have to be pushy or competitive. Grow at your own pace and don’t over do it. Take breaks and analyse.

Remember to be the best person you can be, because then your time will never be wasted.

Rebecca x

Plastic Free Month: 4 days in!

Cor Blimey.

It’s been an odd one!

I’ve not eaten anything naughty at all. literally nothing. I have had a decent amount of gin and cider though.. But that’s been necessary… because of the weather.

Cleaning

I’ve been cleaning my dishes, the table tops and my bathroom with the vinegar, bicarb and hot water concoction. They feel clean, they look clean and doesn’t feel like I’m polishing a turd. But it’s going to take a little more convincing before I would definitely switch. I’ve been making sure to use hot water too, which sometimes I don’t with washing up liquid. It’s probably just that there’s no bubbles and there’s nothing much to see.. making me think that nothing is happening. But I am loving the easiness of it all. I haven’t had to clean anything super gross or difficult yet so we shall see how it stands up to it.

Clothes washing –  I have used Soapnuts for the last couple of years anyway and I really like them. They aren’t great at cleaning the really dirty stuff ( boiler suits, scrub tops … ) however so I usually have a bottle of something else that I use when it’s needed. But for normal clothes they’re great!

Eating

Fruit and veggies sorted! Great! Easy!

I just need more flavour! With my spices hidden away I went in search of fresh ones or dried ones that I can bulk buy. But no luck. All in plastic. I have stuck with pastes in glass jars for the mean time which are good but it feels like cheating.. and I like adding a little extra sometimes which I can’t do! AH! haha. But even some of the pastes had plastic over the lid! I get why it’s done but really! ugh. I was all over the satay peanut sauce but the lid had plastic over it 😦

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So I went to Whole Foods this morning. And the whole place smelled like Bread and cheese. It was cruel.  BUT! I chatted to some of the staff and they’re happy to put meat, cheese, legumes etc into your own tupperware if you bring it along! I didn’t do it today, they had paper bags (some had plastic film in and others didn’t!) so went with those. The peanut butter though ❤

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I bought some tahini and chickpeas to attempt to make some hummus. I sound very middle class. But I cannot go a month without hummus. I’ll keep you updated on the process!

I do love Whole Foods. Some of the food is so ridiculously expensive it’s laughable but it does stock incredible things and I feel that you do get what you pay for.. most of the time. I didn’t buy any fresh stuff here, the market that I go to locally is as good and more likely to be locally produced fruit and vegetables. If it wasn’t for the fact that I remembered that this store has a bulk buy area I wouldn’t have felt the need to go today. There other smaller stores don’t have it. It was just so great to be able to pick up currants, oats, lentils, chickpeas and coffee beans without any packaging. I think it’s definitely worth supporting a shop that has that option and encouraging it in general. It all came to a really reasonable price too! I was pleasantly surprised!

I am missing milk/milk alternatives already and most of my teabags come in some kind of packaging so this is also pretty difficult and sad. I have made oat milk, but it’s not great, fine in porridge but not for drinking as is. Will possibly try more recipes out.

Meanwhile I have just been offered biscuits and chocolate and can’t eat any of it. Think I’ll have an apple.

I’ve also had a bit social life this week! (I know!) It’s been surprisingly easy to drink alcohol. bottles and cans! Boom. I did almost give the barman a heart attack when I burst out asking him to not give me the plastic cup or straw he was reaching for. Poor chap haha, I did explain. However, I also successfully managed to make my companions feel awkward and bad with their plastic cups and straws. Ha. Meh, you can’t have everything. Nice bit of guilt tripping occasionally.

Toiletries

I am loving how simple this is. I literally do not have to make a decision whether to wear or not wear make up. I can’t. End of. I do get the odd spell of dry skin which will be a problem. Might give coconut oil a go..

I have shampoo, conditioner and soap bars from Lush. I really like the shampoo bar, it feels like it’s working and smells really nice and my hair is good! But I can’t get to grips with the conditioner at all. It’s so hard and doesn’t lather at all but it seems to be going onto my hair. I don’t think they do as great a job as some of the bottled shampoos that I use. But I can’t really be surprised by that when you look at the difference in ingredients. The soap bar is great, nothing more to it!

My ‘truthpaste’ and bamboo toothbrush are okay. The paste is pretty bitter and grim but it’s growing on me. The toothbrush is great but softer than I’m used to.

Health wise, I got a blister from my flip-flips the other day and all I could think of was creating an elastic band and tissue gadget. Couldn’t be bothered to try it but it made me realise how drugs and plasters are out too.  Hayfever isn’t too bad at the moment.. and  I’m not surrounded by many cats .. so perfect! #catallergywhere?! #Nothere..

Vet life

It has been impossible to remove plastic from the research that I’m doing this month. My plastic tubes, syringes all plastic and come in plastic packaging. Made to be convenient and sterile but only for one use! Being in practise is just as bad too.

On the whole, everything is going well! haha. Just going to take some time to get used to it. Still finding hints and tips online.  Most people seem to understand what I’m doing and accept it straight up which is great (even if they think i’m weird). When I used to decline things because I was vegan/vegetarian, I always got so much grief in comparison!

All the best,

Rebecca xx

You can see that I’m suffering, please donate 😉

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Plastic Free Month: Day One

First day has gone relatively well!

I’ve started a block at uni that is purely for research and so today has been filled with meetings and discussions about what I need to do and all the stuff i need etc. So my first slip up was needing to use a pen!…Just the once, for like one sentence! Otherwise i’ve been using pencils! It is also my brothers birthday today and we went out for meal at lunchtime. I had orange juice that of course would have come out of a container so slip up 2.. plus it would be amazing if the the whole meal came without plastic somewhere but lets hope! Lesson learned!

But apart from that, I’ve been okay so far. I had to drive to a local grocers to pick up the fruit and vegetables for a couple of days, I’ve even baked a loaf of bread and made oat milk!

I have put all of my plastic things in the corner of my room so that I can’t use them. There were quite a few things that I hadn’t thought of like my spices! Ah! But I’ll will try and find a way to work around it! It’s so tempting when they’re simply there watching you all the time. Literally calling out “use me!”

I have already started to realise how much simpler everything is. No makeup, no creams… although no suntan lotion which is a bit worrying..

 

 

I have plastic bottles in the fridge that i’m using to have constant cold water, i’m also using all the plastic Tupperware that I have. I wont be buying any new ones but I bought these with the intention that they would last. Guess it’s opinion whether I’m being naughty or not! But i feel like there’s no point me buying new non-plastic ones when i have what I need anyway!  We shall see!

I’ve been washing up with the vinegar, bicarb, soap crystal concoction and not formed an opinion yet but the vinegar smell will take some getting used to!

My flatmate bought me some plastic free toilet roll which is amazing! I don’t have to totally rely on the flannels now. I know i’m bound to catch myself out and run out at some point so these are perfect!

Rebecca xx

Plastic Free Month – Prep 2

Today I’ve been preparing to head back up to university. I’ll be carrying out my plastic Free Month in halls.

Our local town market can be pretty amazing regarding fruit and vegetables. Very little plastic in sight.

 

I didn’t buy that much in the end. Ended up stocking up on Raspberries and Blueberries as they are so hard to come by with no plastic!

And I love tomatoes and use them in all my cooking so I’m stocked up on them too.

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I’ve dehydrated and frozen most of the raspberries and blueberries. And Have dehydrated and cooked down and frozen the tomatoes. Eee! I love the colours. Makes me so happy ha!

I also managed to find boxes of bicarbonate and citric acid and i’ve made the disinfectant/ dish washing liquid I’ll be trying for the next month. All though I added bicarb and citric into hot water … don’t recommend it. lol oops.

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Come at me Plastic-Free month!

 

The problems with plastic

Like most of us, I try to do the best I can for the environment. But I drive A LOT. Most of the time I don’t really have a choice and I’ll try to avoid as much as possible. I’ve been vegan, vegetarian, meat eater and everything in between. I’m currently neither, more just a flexible vegan who eats cheese and meat as a treat….

I usually recycle plastic and paper where I can. But I never really paid much attention to the plastic I was buying and using, especially the disposable plastics that are used once and thrown away.

The problem is how much isn’t actually being recycled or can’t be recycled.
Non-recyclable plastics are separated and landfilled. Often it can be quite misleading. It’s easy to assume that most are recyclable but this isn’t the case. And for the plastic that is recyclable it can only really be recycled once. Not many companies are willing to use recycled plastic too!

Burning plastics creates toxins which is one of the big reasons that India decided to ban disposable plastics! Bags, cups and cutlery. India is currently responsible for 60% of the plastic dumped in the oceans every year. 8.8million tons of plastic !

India’s new rule was brought into action after the illegal mass burning of plastic and other waste which has been blamed for the air pollution. Recycling glass and tin doesnt have such a toxic release. It was calculated that Theresa May’s trip to Delhi shortened her life by several hours. The pollution is 36 times more toxic than London!

 1.5 million tonnes of recyclable plastic is used and thrown away by consumers in Britain.  In 2015, only 500,000 tonnes was recycled which was 45% of recyclable goods are recycled each year… and that’s not even the non-recyclable stuff.

Where’s it all going?

A lot ends up in the oceans.

Seabirds are attracted to plastic debris because it smells like their food. The waste accumulates algae and gives off a smell similar to the krill that many marine birds feed on. Albatrosses and shearwaters rely on their sense of smell for hunting so are particularly at risk.

One study estimates that yearly about eight million tons of plastic enters the oceans annually. (enough to cover every foot of coastline in the world)..!!

It is known that birds, turtles and fish, ingest plastic. It causes damage to internal organs, gut blockages or build-ups of chemicals from the plastics in the animals’ tissue. Some birds even feed their young bits of waste.

This also happens on land in India. Cows free to roam in India scavenge and often eat plastic along with the food left out for them. Like turtles and fish it blocks their stomachs and they often become malnourished and starve because they can no longer digest efficiently enough.

More facts!

People recycled 7.5billion (57%) plastic bottles used by UK households each year. However, only about 30% of all plastic pots, tubs and trays were recycled.

The least successful recyclable plastics are plastic film products, which include carrier bags, pasta and rice bags, and the film on ready meals, only about 3% of which were believed to be recycled in 2015. 

Recycling is working and will be successful! But it needs to be done more and encouraged with less plastic used where possible. But also, some alternative ideas being raise are to create plastics that are less toxic and easier to recycle, or biodegradable. We can still have convenience but need to think more long term as well!

If we can find better alternatives, why not use them?!

Rebecca x

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https://greenallianceblog.org.uk/2017/03/14/cleaning-up-the-oceans-is-not-a-solution-to-the-plastic-problem/h ttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/21/only-a-third-of-uk-consumer-plastic-packaging-is-recycled
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/09/seabirds-eat-floating-plastic-debris-because-it-smells-like-food-study-finds-algae-sulfur
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/india-delhi-bans-disposable-plastic-single-use-a7545541.html
http://ecologycenter.org/plastics/
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/05/plastic-waste-dumped-in-uk-seas-carried-to-arctic-within-two-year
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/theresa-may-india-trip-air-pollution-shorten-life-hours-a7405201.html
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/21/only-a-third-of-uk-consumer-plastic-packaging-is-recycled
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/21/only-a-third-of-uk-consumer-plastic-packaging-is-recycled