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Dawn's Plastic-Free June

Posted: Monday 11th July 2016 by LivingSeas

Dry FoodDry Food in Storage Containers

I undertook a bit of a tricky challenge in June this year. The Marine Conservation Society has made June single-use plastic-free month and challenges those brave (naïve) enough to step up and take on the challenge (http://www.mcsuk.org/plasticchallenge/). Ideally you would acquire sponsorship, but I decided to just raise awareness instead.

I spent a couple of weeks at the end of May preparing. I searched the net, joined the forum, asked friends and tried to find solutions to perceived difficulties and I felt prepared. I had checked my veg-box supplier was able to supply sufficient and diverse veg throughout the month; that my beans and pulses could be bought within cans and that I was fully and psychologically prepared to go without crisps for 30 days. No stone was left unturned and I had even planned to “nip” to various shops we don’t have in Wales to get toiletries and nuts, seeds and dried fruit without plastic packaging during my first week. Sorted. I can’t lose.

The most major threat to my daily routine, namely my several-times-daily panad (cup of tea), came on day 1, out of the blue.

I happened (web search) upon the fact that most teabags have plastic within the mesh of the bag itself!! Most loose tea comes in plastic wrapped packets and I couldn’t keep buying posh, decorated canisters every time I needed more loose tea without the plastic covering. Initially, I chose to drink herbal individually packed tea (still have plastic in the “paper” packet), but finally managed to find somewhere that sold loose tea in help yourself bins with paper bags for collection. I’ve since found tea at cafes, which may well suffice for topping up my supply when it wanes. Same place has also supplied me with coffee beans, for my posh coffee fix on occasion. 

Baking (for an event) proved a bit of a challenge as well as, although flour comes in paper packs, baking powder containers often have a plastic lid and I had to fork out for posh vanilla essence to avoid a plastic bottle. It was worth it though, as I still managed to have cake, which is difficult when you’re going plastic-free. My bread came from my local bakery. Uncut and, therefore, sold in paper, it was both sandwich sized and chunky piece of toast size too. Handy.

So, it’s at an end, but I am continuing to avoid plastic as much as I can. My advice for those wanting to do the same is: buy a water bottle and keep it filled, never leave the house without food (it’s difficult to get a snack without the dreaded wrap) and don’t go to the shop without a bag of your own to fill and take to the till. Don’t beat yourself up too much about the things you feel you need and can’t immediately find a way to avoid (at least you’re mindful of the problem and doing what you can). The things I didn’t give up were deodorant, some coffee breaks at work, leave in conditioner (I frizz) and I was given a gift of a tube of crisps (which, I’m afraid I wolfed). I must also count the plastic wrapped cakes I bought for our volunteers on our first pop-up of the season. I didn’t eat them though, but they count. 

And the reason for all of this? I can’t imagine you’ve avoided it, since it’s been splattered over the internet and papers in the news and on people’s lips. Plastic marine litter is a huge problem, which, if we act now, can be dealt with to some degree. For more info about the problem see here and to help out at a beach clean keep an eye on our Facebook page or others’ webpages (Surfers Against Sewage, Keep Wales Tidy, MCS, your local council).

- Dawn Thomas, Living Seas Awareness Officer

 

 

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