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  • Writer's pictureSustainable Overton

My Journey towards Plastic Free

By Chris, Sustainable Overton volunteer in the Business team

Local shops on London Road

Back in 2017, like most of the country, I watched the David Attenborough narrated "Blue Planet 2" on the BBC. It was a remarkable show with stunning visuals, an incredible score by Hans Zimmer and (unsurprisingly) the highest viewing figures of any UK TV show that year. The most fascinating (and heart-breaking) part of this series for me was seeing the major effect that humanity has had on the ocean. For years I had been aware of the issues of climate change, but largely blind to the issues of clastic pollution and completely unaware of what I could do to help.

After doing some research and watching other documentaries, my partner and I came up with a few things we wanted to try. Initially it felt like we were going to have to overhaul every aspect of our shopping habits and completely re-evaluate our lifestyle. This felt like quite a big ask! We decided instead that it was better to make small changes in the right direction to transition our lifestyle to a more environmentally conscious one.

Some changes came quite simply and without much effort. We signed up for milk deliveries and started making basic bread and tortillas at home. We cut out most of the meat we were eating. Notwithstanding the other environmental benefits that come from reducing meat consumption, we felt that it was one of our biggest sources of “hard-to-recycle” plastic packaging. Surprisingly, this was easier than we thought. It meant investigating new and different meals and reaching out to vegetarian friends for ideas, and we found that we were quickly able to save money and reduce plastic. A good trick I found to do this was to focus the meal around the veg, rather than the protein; and to avoid trying to make vegetarian versions of meat based meals as they inevitably disappoint!

Other things proved more challenging. Trying to find good quality toothpaste and shampoo in plastic free containers without spending a fortune is a real challenge and we still haven’t found a good solution. Similarly, it seems impossible to get certain fruit and veg without the plastic so we had to find alternatives – no more bagged salad leaves! Shopping at refill shops also seemed to be a sensible thing to do, but it proved very hard to find a list or map of such stores online. Fortunately, more stores and stalls crop up all the time, and it is getting easier to find them.

As time went on, the idea of reducing plastic waste evolved into a wider evaluation of my lifestyle and habits. I decluttered and donated things I no longer used or needed. I purchased things I could expect to last a long time, rather than the cheapest option available. I visit Wilson & Sons in the centre of the village to get fresh, loose vegetables and on the rare occasion I have meat I try to buy it from Turners. Overall, I found it a lot easier to reduce plastic waste when I approached shopping with a more minimalistic view of whether I needed something or not.

All in all I made lots of little steps in the direction I wanted to end up in, some easy and some more challenging. I am by no means completely free of plastic in my life, and I know there are things I still want to change, but I don’t have the time, energy or money to be perfectly plastic free. Far better for many people to be imperfectly plastic free, than for a few people to do it perfectly.

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Jan 25, 2021

I was interested to hear of Chris's plastic free/zero waste journey, having set out on the same road over a year ago. We have done pretty well, producing only 1 small bag of rubbish, weighing around 1.5 kg for 2 of us, per fortnight, mostly packaging of some sort. Reducing it beyond that is hard and I agree about the toothpaste. While we have reduced meat consumption, when purchasing meat or fish, we take our own containers to local shops and they are happy to fill these. I have a cloth bag for bread, but you need to be aware it dries out more when not in plastic. My tip for plastic free salad leaves - a bunch of watercres…

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