This last week of the 1MW Plastic-Free Challenge has probably been the most challenging. It’s also the week I consider to be the biggest failure for me. (If you want to read previous posts about the challenge, you’ll find them in Getting Organised, Week 1 and Week 2).
This week has seen the most items involving plastic come into my hands. I think the main reasons are the number of groceries we had to buy for which I wasn’t organised, and being in a rush generally.
On one hand it’s really disheartening.
On the other hand, it means I’m more motivated to make a positive difference. And that’s the most important result I want to focus on.
Trying to live plastic-free is hard. It isn’t convenient (at least, not immediately). It’s confronting in a lot of ways, too.
But my gosh, this is important.
I’ll do a separate wrap-up of the three-week challenge and what I’m taking away. For now, let’s look at this past week in particular, and why it feels like the biggest failure.
Products we purchased involving plastic
This one was always going to be hard. I did actually do some research and found some bulk pasta at The Source Bulk Foods. The catch? On a per 100g basis, the cheapest option is still about 7x as expensive as the pasta we generally buy from Woolies! Whhyyyyy???! I’m all for paying a little more if necessary, but I’m sorry – that’s too much for a staple in our pantry.
In future – this is going to require a rethink. Perhaps we need to reduce the amount of pasta we eat and adjust our diet. I thought about getting a pasta-maker… but let’s be realistic.
My husband did some of the shopping this week and he chose a good quality TP that came wrapped in plastic. I used it as motivation to get us signed up to Who Gives a Crap. I’ve been meaning to do it anyway.
Next time – our TP will be delivered by the postie! They’ll be recycled and in paper packaging, and doing good in the world! I’m excited to have finally taken this step.
I took my toddler to the shops. I had a beautiful vision of us sitting at some sushi train or similar, him happily colouring in a colouring book and me eating sushi with him. In reality, he threw a tantrum in the middle of the mall and I was lucky to get lunch at all, let alone a mindful one. It was sushi in a plastic tray. Though do note I used the soy sauce in the bottle, not the little plastic packets.
Next time – next time I’m dealing with a meltdown and I’m hungry and he’s not playing along? I don’t think you can really plan for that. Next time I’ll continue being compassionate with myself, and doing the best I can.
As I mentioned above, my husband did some of the shopping this week and, despite his being supportive of avoiding plastic, some items became too inconvenient to replace at short notice. What follows is a depressing list. However, wherever possible I’ve avoided consuming those items personally so I could feel the deprivation and get motivated to find an alternative! Here’s the list and my plan, where possible.
Tofu – it’s not perfect, but I’m going to reduce our tofu consumption. It won’t be easy, since I’m predominantly plant-based and our toddler loves tofu, but it’s a start!
Dishwashing liquid – I’m going to have to research alternatives. There seems to be a few out there!
Strawberries – I plan to buy these from our local markets when available.
Salt – I’m pretty sure I can get this in glass containers.
Soy Milk – again, this is a toughie as most non-dairy
Orange juice – I haven’t drunk it this time, but that’s not really a solution for my boys! If they want juice we can always use our juicer.
Nappies and Baby Wipes – I need to find my toddler some cloth nappies (preferably second hand) and start using washers for his bum. This isn’t a 100% solution, but it’s a start.
Lunch at a friends’ place
We visited friends on the weekend for lunch, and despite my efforts, we ended up grabbing some items that came in plastic. I think if I were more organised (are you sensing a theme here?) I could have chosen alternative options and avoided the plastic. They were:
Fresh crackers in a plastic box; Flowers placed in a plastic bag (to avoid drips); Dip in plastic container; All placed into a plastic bag 🙁
Here are some big wins/ changes I made
Despite the long list of failures, there were some areas where I took serious steps forward this week. I visited Biome (I love that store way too much) and purchased the following:
Soapberries – for a laundry detergent replacement. They’re apparently quite effective (I’ll let you know), compostable, and earth-friendly.
Produce bags – to use for bulk purchases (such as lentils and snacks that I intend to buy from bulk bins in future).
Bread bag – I’ve been making our bread lately and this bag will store it. The other use is taking it to the bakery for them to place fresh bread into!
Other wins include:
The Source Bulk Foods – I visited the Mullumbimby store and bought lentils, oats and sultanas.
Sundried Tomatoes – I got organised and took a container to Woolies to get my sundried tomatoes put into this, instead of the plastic containers they use (which are also crappy quality). When they told me this wasn’t allowed, I refused to buy them, and instead bought a jar of sundried tomatoes.
Rice – instead of a plastic bag of rice, I bought a cloth bag in bulk. It’s from Woolies too, it’s just not something I’ve looked for before.
Other questions I’m asking
This challenge has me thinking about a lot of stuff, and questioning lots of things – in a really good way. It’s about so much more than trying to live plastic-free! Here are just a couple of things on my mind.
Is paper recycling better than plastic?
I got thinking during the week about how we recycle as much plastic in our home as possible. We also recycle cardboard. So what’s the difference to the environment? It’s something I want to research.
Why is bulk purchasing more expensive?
This one has me riled up. After all, if we’re going to reduce our society’s use of plastic, the alternatives have to be convenient and affordable. There were a few examples I’ve found (the above mentioned pasta being one of them) where buying in bulk is more expensive than buying a small amount in a plastic packet. Why is this the case? I don’t have the answer but it’s worth investigating.
As I mentioned above, I’ll do a separate wrap-up of the challenge with my big takeaways and a look at how I think it’s affected my life moving forward. I also have some plans for a personal continuation of the challenge and having others join me. Let me know if you’re interested in playing along! It’s a judgment-free zone (as you can
For now, that’s the end of the three week challenge!