In January 2018 I made myself and my family a promise that I would try harder not to damage the earth in the name of convenience. Plastic Free July has been the perfect time to recommit myself to reducing plastic. I made a few straightforward changes that immediately cut or reduced our plastic consumption.
Getting started can be the hardest part, once you’ve bought a keep cup and reusable shopping bags what more can you do? And is it possible to make any changes when you’re a busy mum? After all, you don’t quite fancy making your own soap or foraging for your dinner!
It is absolutely possible! And while it’s true that some changes haven’t been possible for us yet, dairy is a big source of plastic in our home. These are the first 5 changes I made in my kitchen as I moved towards becoming plastic free. They’re practically zero effort!
Meal by Meal
This sounds overly simplistic but when you start going plastic free you can quickly feel overwhelmed by how many changes you need to make…and that’s before you hear about microplastics!
I found it very helpful to focus on making just one meal plastic free. Start by picking your family’s favourite meals and working out a way to source those ingredients without needing any plastic. I began with things like burgers, curries and stews because you can easily swap the meats and spices so have a huge amount of variety from a limited number of ingredients. They’re also the easiest ingredients to find loose or in glass and they freeze well.
I was a complete cleaning snob. I sneered when people suggested using bicarbonate soda and vinegar as a cleaning product – until I ran out of oven cleaner. In utter desperation (dinner party looming and no clean baking tray!!!) I pulled out the only two things that might work – baking soda and vinegar. I crossed my fingers and sprayed it on. Without any exaggeration the cooked in food lifted right off! It also makes a satisfying fizzing noise as it works.
Use up whatever cleaning products and supplies you have in your home and before you replace them just google a few greener alternatives. It’s been a very pleasant surprise and a great way to save money.
You don’t need to buy an everlasting storage tub every time you buy a product! I’ve started to bring my own containers to the butchers and cloth bags for my fruit and veg.
Buying in bulk was another way I reduced single use plastic. It’s also handy since you’ll be doing slightly more cooking you can gain back some convenience by preparing your meals in advance and storing them. My freezer was depressingly underused and fairly unhealthy. Packed with frozen veg, chips and tons of plastic it really wasn’t reaching its potential. Now it’s filled with marinaded meats, curry’s and stews. I used paper to wrap meats and tubs I’d already got were used for anything with a sauce.
Plan Plan Plan
Ok so this is slightly boring but you need to spend 10/15 minutes at the start of every week making a meal plan and deciding which shops you’ll need to go to. You will then need to stick to this plan!!!! It also means 5 minutes every morning doing a mental checklist (shopping and produce bags, snacks/drinks to prevent impulse plastic use etc) before leaving the house.
The first time you pack up your tubs to go to the butcher’s it feels like a pain, it’s not! It’s a pain for our beautiful sea creatures to swim in and eat our filth!
It might be impossible to go plastic free while still shopping at a multiple chain supermarket. I’ve found that smaller local shops have been far more accommodating and willing to get on board. Make a trip to a local green grocer and butcher, not only will you more easily reduce your plastic but you’ll be making a valuable contribution to local, family business and keeping your local money in your local community and not in an off shore account! Plus it’s so lovely to walk into a shop and be welcomed by someone who knows you and knows what you like!
For those shops that have to happen in a chain supermarket then make sure to let them know what you want to buy. Send a quick message on social media to the shop telling them you’d like to have more plastic free options and asking for a response from the relevant departments will help to build the ‘Plastic Free’ momentum.
Here are some online retailers who can help you get started with their plastic free products.
Green Earth Organics deliver fresh fruit and veg as well general groceries.
Minimal Waste Grocery Minimal Waste Grocery stock nearly everything you need for feeding your family and cleaning your home.