CHALLENGE: Living without disposable plastics for a month

  • 22 February 2018
  • 32 replies

Hi All! I’m Laura, from Marketing at Pure Planet.

Starting today, I’m going to try and give up disposable plastic for a month. Through this, I’m going to try and learn just how big my plastic footprint is - and the further impacts of it. If you’d like to follow my journey, I’ll be posting updates of how I get on and the problems I come across.

If you'd like some more information about what I'm doing, then check out the Pure Planet blog.

I’d love to hear if anyone has done anything similar, has any hints and tips or just any thoughts on living plastic free. Or if anyone would like to join me then please get in touch. I’m sure I’ll come across some funny situations as well as some difficult ones, so watch this space!

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First issue: My train tickets for my commute are covered in a plastic film.. Do I still go to work? (The answer was yes. If anything this challenge is going to increase my costs so to work it is)

32 replies

Current thoughts: Wish I'd planned for this more.. What am I going to eat? No joy in finding plastic free pasta. Can I do a month of eating sandwiches?

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Also just accidentally made myself a coffee from a sachet. Seems a shame to waste it but #guiltcoffee

Have you seen the post on the Pure Planet blog? It's an introduction into why I'm doing this challenge and the impact plastic has globally. Today I was feeling a little smug by finally having sorted out my sustainable breakfast (museli that you scoop yourself into a paper bag) but was foiled by the plastic lid on the almond milk. Basically, I'm toast.
Hi Laura. Great to see someone in the Pure Planet office attempting this challenge! Not sure I'd be able to give up my shampoos and shower gels, what are you planning on doing about this?

Quite a sad shop in the supermarket yesterday, I think I'll have to start finding other options for dinner. On the plus side, it is very healthy. Even the bread comes in plastic, so I'll have to source my carbs elsewhere. #starvedofcarbs #wheresthepasta

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Hi Laura. Great to see someone in the Pure Planet office attempting this challenge! Not sure I'd be able to give up my shampoos and shower gels, what are you planning on doing about this?

Thanks for your comment! I treated myself and went to Lush. They've got 'naked' shampoo, shower gel etc that comes as a bar with no packaging. It's all natural ingredients (including seaweed - took a bit of adjusting to!) and I keep them in tins. Great for putting in hand luggage too as it's not a liquid.

I'm currently existing on yogurt covered raisins, dried apricots and fruit. Does anyone have any recommendations for plastic free snacks?

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend! Was there anything you used that you previously didn't realise was plastic? For me it was firelighters - so I found a more friendly and chemical free alternative. Check out this wood shavings and wax combo, it's hands down the best firelighter I've ever used. Also warmed with the wonderfuel coffee logs, made from used coffee grounds.
This is the amount of plastic that came with some peppers I bought at the weekend. A plastic tray and plastic wrapping. They're Spanish peppers and were not sold as loose items....

This is the amount of plastic that came with some peppers I bought at the weekend. A plastic tray and plastic wrapping. They're Spanish peppers and were not sold as loose items....


Wow that's so much extra plastic! I can definitely relate to wanting specific ingredients but not finding plastic free alternatives. Have you tried a farmers market?

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Reusing paper bags to skip the plastic bakery produce bags in Sainbury's for a morning croissant today. Every little helps, particularly if you can cut out things like plastic bags. I've resorted to pastries for the time being until I can sort out a source of plastic free milk for cereal in the mornings..

Dodged the plastic in tea bags by making mint tea straight from the dried leaves. I picked some mint in the summer and aired it in a dry cupboard. Chopped up in hot water works a dream! Sourcing some plastic free coffee is turning out to be a little harder though..
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I think you’re doing remarkable Laura! To do what you’re doing for just one DAY would be a hard task, but a whole month!!!!!!!!!!!! Sadly soooo much healthy produce is loaded in plastic packaging, something has to give soon. Recycling it alone isn’t going to be enough. Well done Laura! Doing great.
Thanks so much Bev! It's great to have your support. There's some definite trying moments (seriously missing crisps!) but I'm actually eating a lot of healthy food as most of the stuff with no plastic is loose veg. I'm learning loads though, and there are plastic free alternatives popping up all over the show! Your comment has really made my day, thank you!!

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Yesterdays lunch! I'm finally getting the hang of this food thing. Farmer's market ingredients (mushroom pasta with salad) and 'Moist' hummus which they put straight into my container for me. Plus beeswax wraps (a great tupperware/clingfilm alternative) to wrap up the carrot sticks and celery. It's lovely how accommodating food vendors have been to avoid plastics!

The next blog is up! This week is all about food. Ever snacked on a tomato? Check out the latest post on the Pure Planet blog
Can you not get e-tickets or digital? I've used these a couple of times recently and it's so much better than the old type.
Hi @Sibs
Yes, I've got the same - for a park and ride bus I use the tickets are in an app on my phine. No physical ticket anymore.
But I don't think the same exists for trains yet? I think that's right. I'm sure @Laura S will know
That's a great idea @Sibs ,thanks! I've since discovered that you can (they're called m-tickets) but my particular train stations don't offer the service yet. Useful for those that do though! Here's the link

One plastic item I can't seem to get around at all - medication. Does anyone have any ideas for this one?
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Great you’re still doing soooo well Laura! I’m amazed at the positivity from food stores you have received, didn’t imagine that at all, thought they’d be more reluctant, but great they’ve been very accommodating.

I’ve found myself really noticing the packaging since you’ve been doing this challenge. I recycle, so it’s certainly noticeable just how much unnecessary, excessive plastic and packaging we face daily.

Re the medication, this one soooooooo bugs me! The amount of paper and boxing for such a small item I require regularly, is truly beyond belief! Unlike foods, it’s not something you can really find a substitute for. It’s like the public are doing their best, no matter how small it seems, to help the planet, but some manufacturers just go for the easy option.

Crisps too are sooooo my downfall! Absolute addict! Sadly none of that packaging is even recyclable. All the shower gel bottles and toothpaste etc; when you stop and do such a challenge as yours, it really does bring it home just how much work there is to be done.

Admire what you’re doing, and enjoying following your progress and hurdles.Keep going, Laura!!!!!
Thanks so much @Bev ! Your replies really do make my day! It's lovely that so many places have been so accommodating, I agree! Not everywhere is, but generally smaller local places are much better than big supermarkets at it.

That's fantastic! I'm so glad it's been thought-provoking (making my lack of crisps worth it!) and I'm starting to notice loads of plastic that I hadn't really considered before. Things like washing up sponges! The one I bumped into yesterday was shop-bought pastry. My seemingly quick dessert plan actually turned into having to make the pastry from scratch- the way plastic is currently used is definitely convenient.

That's not to say it's a requirement! There's loads of exciting alternatives popping up in the news recently. Even plastics made from sustainable resources, like corn starch or sugar cane are becoming more mainstream. These would be useful for things like medication where there's a hygienic storage requirement. It's really frustrating for the time being though!

I came across this picture online this morning, which is even more frustrating!

Don't really know what to do about the crisps for the time being. If everyone gave up a bit of their plastic usage, it would make a much bigger impact than me trying to give up absolutely everything. Using some plastic is obviously okay in day to day life, it shouldn't be a real hardship! Just by cutting out a little bit you're making a big impact. Particularly if you can persuade someone else to do the same, and so on!

Thank you so much for your kind words, it's so heart warming! Glad to know you're following along the journey with me :)

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This week I'm focusing on hygiene and cleanliness. One of the first and quite easy steps a few weeks ago was switching things like shampoo and shower gel. I went to Lush and was recommended some solid bar shampoo, conditioner, and body scrub specific to my hair type. I'm definitely noticing the difference 2 weeks in, and my skin (which usually is defeated by winter dryness) is really happy.

A happy bi-product of looking for products without plastic is that generally that kind of company offer products with natural ingredients. I picked up a bar of goats-milk-soap at a market and learnt about the great natural qualities that come with it. Same with my seaweed shampoo. The body scrub has little bits of crushed almond shell in, so great natural replacement to plastic micro-beads! And it works well and is a great use for something that would otherwise be waste.

Soap in bar form also lasts a lot longer than liquid versions! So it'll save me money in the long run. I keep them in containers to make them last longer too.

Would you switch to a solid bar deodorant? It comes packaging free but is very powdery. It definitely took some getting used to at first but now I really rate it!
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Hats off to you re the pastry Laura! OMG not even Mary Berry makes her own!!!!!!!! LOL!!!!! Guess once you’d set your heart on the dessert, it had to be done. Bet it tasted better too!

Absolutely re not being able to give up absolutely everything, no way around the crisps, unless make your own of course, which are nice, and deffo healthier, but nothing beats Walkers of course!

Funny enough, got into this topic with my hairdresser today. He was saying how he’d been vegetarian since birth, and me for thirty years, but I did eat meat as a child. We then ended up on about recycling from there, and the planet, and he said just what you said, whereby if the likes of us do quite a bit in trying to save the planet, but lots still choose to do nothing, sadly that’s worse than if everyone just tried to do a small bit. Sadly tho, even with education and encouragement, some will never ever want to change. Just want convenience and ease. Thinking of today, not the future. Appreciate its not always practical or possible, but a lot of it is down to ignorance or laziness.

I rarely go into the city centre but did pass LUSH today but the smell is sooo strong, almost a little off putting, as wafts all around the whole shopping complex. Saying that, I like the deodorant idea Laura, BUT would it pass the white marks test with black attire? That’ll be the decider. Soap bars take me back to childhood, and think they are absolutely fine if not shared. The body scrub and seaweed shampoo sound great.

Lastly, the orange! That’s beyond infuriating isn’t it?! Jesus wept!

Bet you’ll actually be quite reluctant to go back to your pre challenge ways. Know realistically a month is by far long enough, as I said at the start, as soooo many hurdles, but I guess as time goes on, and more and more is done by manufacturers, then hopefully more of the population will jump on board.

Keep it up, Laura! ????????
Thanks for your kind words @Bev !! I should say it wasn't puff pastry, just a quick short crust!

It's great that you're starting conversations about things that are good for the planet, every little helps. I've found even just having a chat about giving up plastic gets people to view their plastic consumption differently, so keep doing what you're doing! It's true that some people will never change, but if it becomes the norm people won't have to change in the future.

I agree, the smell is pretty noticeable! I found that the staff were super helpful though, and helped me find products that suited me personally. They have lots of different options for each product, so give it a go! Maybe you'll be able to find a new deodorant or type of soap.

There's definitely some new ways of life I love, like eating better food and using more natural products. Some convenience things are frustrating at times though, and I think after the challenge I'll go back to some plastic products. I've really cut down though!

Did you try any plastic free things over the weekend?

I mentioned earlier that I was looking at cleanliness and hygiene in particular this week. I tried cleaning using lemon and baking soda - really effective and no nasty chemicals. I used a lemon spray attachment thing, I'm thrilled with it! It's unfortunately made from plastic, but not single use. If there's more demand from consumers maybe it'll become more mainstream in the future.
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Wowsa, I use the exact same thing Laura!!!!!!! Bought it online few years back, always got lemons in fridge anyway as love them hot instead of tea, so they’re great for cleaning too! I use the spray like you, then use the remains of the lemon for kitchen worksurfaces, just rubbing the lemon across. Smells divine! Sooo pleased you love it!

I’ve also tried including baking soda for homemade shampoo recipe. Obviously you don’t get the foaming bubbles like shop shampoos but does the job exactly the same. I did try making own toothpaste too. Like you say Laura, when it hopefully becomes the norm for the majority, future generations will look back in disbelief at the amount of unnecessary wastage we produced.

PS When the African lemons are available, think it’s more a summer thing, they’re HUGE and perfect for your sprayer. Great minds think alike!
That's so great to hear @Bev! It's wonderful to hear that you're using natural products for cleaning, and benefiting from the occasional cup of hot lemon too! Sounds like a win win.

Fantastic, sounds like you're well on your way when it comes to reducing your plastic consumption. I love how creative you've been with shampoo and toothpaste! I've tried making my own toothpaste out of baking soda, and found it quite strange to start with.

Thank you for your suggestion! I'll keep an eye out for them because as you say, the sprayer is great.

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The next post in the series on ditching disposable plastic is now on the Pure Planet blog! Have a read and let me know what you think.
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I did larf at “happy to kelp!” ????????????????????????????

I am certain there is no need to wash hair as often as we all do, I don’t even find the smell of modern day shampoos all that appealing, and actually find washing my hair less keeps it HEALTHIER ????. Like you say Laura, it did no harm at all centuries ago when there was no alternative.

Not long to go now! Ooooh I’d miss tomatoes too, guess maybe market tomatoes would be an option as pretty sure they’d come loose. Bet you’re already focussing on a meal of everything you’ve missed this last month, as a big reward for your hard efforts!