The Plastic-Less Lent 2018 group has been brilliant and reminded me of things I know are important, and I don’t feel so alone in the struggle. I already get milk in glass, cook from scratch, bake, make bread, minimise use of cleaners which are eco anyway including vinegar; use soapnuts or Ecover powder for washing (no conditioner); kitchen & loo rolls from recycled paper; reusing envelopes and paper for lists; make own bread and pizza; reuse water bottles; use bar soap in shower and bath; hardly ever use hair products or make-up; buy liquid hand soap in bulk; buy most meat from butcher or else butcher counter in supermarket. Meridian peanut butter in glass jars, Yeo Valley yogurt in 1kg recycled tubs.

Discussions in the group inspired me to Google for a local dairy (rather than my previous supplier), and found one just up the road. I’m now buying from him, and saving quite a bit of money.

My NEW long-term initiatives include:

  • avoiding ice cream packaged in plastic – this is a big deal! Ice cream is one of my major food groups, lol. So I now buy expensive small tubs (Sainsbury and Ben & Jerry’s are card) preferably on offer, plus those long narrow slicing blocks of vanilla which ekes out the chocolate. And smaller portions overall. [UPDATE] I’ve found the CoOp “Irresistible” range uses paper tubs without the plastic film, and their Fair Trade Venezuelan Chocolate is amazing! Our new favourite. And full price is less than Ben & Jerry’s. A basic vanilla cutting block is also in plain card and cheap, from Sainsbury or Tesco. [/UPDATE]
  • stop buying individual snacks and crisps in plastic (sort-of!) – this is another big deal, and I need to be more firm with myself. The local sweet shop has closed (they sold in paper bags) and Caramel Eggs are a bit more-ish…
  • keep and reuse plastic bags, and keep other wrap to recycle.
  • no more plastic sauce bottles (I reuse the squeezy bottle though)
  • whip butter with oil to be spreadable, or use plain butter at room temp. The kind of oil is important – choose one you like the flavour of. 1 Tablespoon oil per 1 oz of butter at room temperature. You can blend it with a fork to taste-test a small portion at a time with different oils. For 250g butter I use about 90g weight of refined canola or sunflower oil.
  • making my own coleslaw is going well, as is making my own yogurt. Both mean an easy ongoing fresh supply even when boating, as they are both part of our every-day lunches.
  • using Lush solid or crystal deodorant (trying out both, but like Lush best so far)
  • buy oats in cardboard (Scott’s Porridge Oats for me, but a wider selection if  you like coarse oats).
  • working harder at avoiding plastic wrap on fruit and veg – grapes or other soft fruit still tricky. There is a local greengrocer who delivers for free, which I may try sometime, but meanwhile I use the greengrocer in town plus the supermarket, depends on what I need.
  • no more plastic pots of custard, jelly, etc, and a tub of custard lasts us a long time.
  • getting bar shampoo for spouse and wash my hair much less often.
  • buy sliced meats from deli counter instead of in plastic trays.
  • buy lemon juice, vinegar, and oil in glass bottles.

Meanwhile, I’ve tried and can’t get on with a few things: bamboo toothbrush (next will look for replacement heads); nor with bar shampoo for me; soapnuts shampoo (may be better thickened – will try); beeswax wraps… so-so, good for certain things like cabbage. Still need to reduce plastic wrap from butcher, but at least avoiding meat trays. Can’t quite do without cling film, but have dramatically reduced usage by re-using other coverings.

It’s quite a journey! Don’t see myself as being plastic-free any time soon, but making progress on the road.