Nourish - I Tried Living Plastic-Free for a Week. Here’s How I Got On
The overuse of plastic has somewhat taken over our modern world, to the detriment of our environment. From landfills to oceans, plastic is destroying our planet slowly but surely and causing great harm to animals in the meantime. This has been accelerated in recent years due to the increase of single-use plastics in our day to day lives, such as cling film, coffee cups and water bottles. As a result, I decided to see if it was possible to live a plastic-free week in contemporary Ireland.
In preparation for this experiment, I invested in a few reusable and sustainable items. These included a stainless steel water bottle, metal portable cutlery and beeswax wrap which is the reusable replacement for cling film. A reusable coffee cup, cotton tote bag, glass jars and lunch boxes were essential too. During the first day, I became acutely aware of just how much plastic each of us consumes on a daily basis.
The first big hurdle came when I embarked on a food shop. It quickly became clear that a pit stop in my local Lidl wouldn’t work for this challenge. Instead, I found myself sourcing fruit and vegetables from a local greengrocer or market stall in order to avoid the single-use plastic wrap much of our food shopping from big retailers comes in. With regards to meat and fish, I headed to my local butcher or fishmonger, with lunch boxes in hand, and requested them to skip the plastic bags and simply use the containers I had brought. Of course, this sparked an interesting conversation with the workers! It’s indisputable that the weekly food shop took longer to complete.
Although my goal was to avoid plastic, the knock-on effect it had meant that I began to shop locally, take an interest in the source of my shopping and I felt all the better for it! The one shopping item which was impossible to find without being covered in plastic, however, was toilet paper. If this had been anything else I could have abandoned it for the sake of the week, but its essential nature meant that I had to cave on this particular plastic free ideal! Thankfully when it comes to washing up liquid or clothes detergent, Nourish offer a service in which we can refill the plastic bottles with products previously bought in-store.
The key to avoiding plastic on a daily basis is definitely preparation; bringing a reusable water bottle, a keep cup for coffee lovers or a metal straw if you intend on going for drinks after work. Having a lunch box or beeswax wrap of snacks during the day allowed me to bypass single-use plastic packaging while keeping a campers set of steel cutlery in my handbag prevented my need for disposable forks or knives. When it comes to storing food at home, glass jars became my new best friend! They are perfect for storing all manner of things, in both the fridge and freezer.
Apart from the food industry, the other area in which I found it hard to avoid plastic was toiletries. Many of our cosmetics are stored in plastic containers, with a plastic seal for freshness and finally, covered in plastic film. Even the most eco-friendly bamboo toothbrushes have some form of plastic bristles which are non-biodegradable, nevertheless, they are significantly better for the planet than a regular toothbrush! I quickly realised that I was confined to buying shampoo and conditioner bars from Lush, a company which stocks fresh, handmade and cruelty-free cosmetics.
Due to the many restrictions which I encountered when it came to toiletries, I found myself simply avoiding wearing makeup or searching for brands which use cardboard packaging. Couleur Caramel is a great example of a makeup brand which avoids the overuse of plastic when it comes to their products.
If you are looking to minimise the use of plastic in your life, the following blogs are really helpful and inspiring; Zero Waste Home, My Plastic Free Life and One Green Planet. I would encourage anyone and everyone to give it go! Try implementing small changes initially, such as a bamboo toothbrush or a reusable coffee cup. Remember to be kind to yourself along this journey also, it can be hard to completely escape the plastic life all the time, but all the small steps add up to considerable change.
– Rheanne, Nourish Web Store
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