Journey to a Zero-Plastic Fantastic Life!
Some challenges and how to overcome them
So, my boomerang years are in full swing and I’ve come bouncing back to my parents for a little while (thanks and sorry mum and dad). Before I head to another part of the world to further avoid adulthood - like the true millennial that I am - I’m on a mission to cut out plastic.
Thankfully, my parents started recycling way before it was cool, so were pretty on board with the plastic-free challenge which I threw upon us. Enthusiasm is the first step!
As a student, I made a fairly decent effort to cut down on my plastic use; easy things like bamboo toothbrushes and reusable coffee cups. I didn’t fully throw myself into the plastic-free life because, to be honest, University felt like enough of a challenge already. What would I do without all those delicious plastic-wrapped snacks to get me through my dissertation?! But, slowly I’ve come out of denial and decided that something more really must be done, and if I claim to care about the environment then it’s about time I walked the talk.
Metal straws are a good start, but there are so many more simple steps that we can take, and must take, if we want to really have a positive impact on the environment. It’s definitely about time to say goodbye to plastic.
Here, I’ve made a list of some challenges that we encountered and how we overcame them. Hopefully this will inspire someone, somewhere to at least give it a go.
Challenge 1: ‘how am I going to make my favourite dish?’
Often, one of us would have a fixed recipe idea in our head and then it would be a bit disappointing to realise that you can’t make those recipes plastic-free: ‘well how am I going to make a Pad Thai without plastic-wrapped bean sprouts?!’ There are certain foods which are hard to find without plastic packaging, and this obviously completely depends on where you live and which shops are available to you.
Opportunity: try new recipes!
The answer is, make something else! It’s so easy to get stuck making the same dishes again and again, this is a great opportunity to broaden your culinary horizons.
I made tortilla wraps for the first time and they were absolutely great - I had no idea how easy it would be to make them.
Although some things may not be easy to find in your area, once you start looking you may be surprised at what you can find plastic-free. I thought I’d never be able to find sweets which weren’t wrapped in plastic, but lo and behold I actually very easily found sweets in a dispenser shop which could be decanted into a paper bag.
Challenge 2: ‘I don’t have enough time to go to the plastic-free shop!’
Sometimes you just run out of time and then realise you desperately need an essential item - like coffee, and the zero-waste shop is closed or too far away.
Opportunity: get more organised!
It takes a little bit more organisation because you have to go to specific shops which can sell you plastic-free food, rather than popping to the supermarket for pretty much everything. But once you get in the swing of it it’s really quite straightforward. When you’re shopping, stock up with lots of dry foods, although you may have limited cupboard space it’s great to have a big stash of plastic-free food.
Challenge 3: ‘it’s so expensive!’
Some plastic-free items are more expensive (bamboo toothbrushes I’m looking at you), but not everything. Many people who have gone plastic-free have found themselves spending less on food.
Opportunity: make your own things (it’s easier than it sounds)
Homemade hummus is easily half the price than the hummus that you can buy, and it takes about 10 minutes to make a big batch of it. ‘Oatly Barista’ oat milk is £1.85 per carton, if you make it then it literally costs about 50p for the same quantity, I’m not kidding!
It’s an investment, as many plastic-free items last longer
I can’t deny the fact that some products are more expensive, but the good news is that many of these plastic-free alternatives do last longer. We spent a bit more on a LoofCo washing up pad but they actually last a lot longer than washing up pads we’ve bought that contain plastic. The same goes for metal razors, mooncups, etc. There is hope for your bank balance!
So, all in all, it isn’t easy peasy to go plastic-free, because it’s never easy to change your habits however passionate you are, it takes a little getting used to. But things which seemed difficult at first have now started to become part of our everyday routine, and it really does get easier so don’t get too disheartened at first. Just start simply and see how it goes!