Living a life that is free from plastic – is it possible?

To be completely plastic free seems virtually impossible, but we have to try, right?

Is it possible to go completely plastic free - A Free From Life

I blame the supermarkets. So much of the produce they sell comes in plastic packaging and unless they start making changes, I can’t honestly see how we can affect a change on a large scale.

As a family, we have taken steps to reduce our plastice waste. Having young people and teens in the house, who care about their future and are who are genuinely concerned about the poor state the world is in, really helps.

Here are some of the things we’ve been able to do:

1. Buying fresh produce from Riverford, an organic box-delivery company that has, for me, all the right attitudes and beliefs behind it – Most, if not all, of the produce comes in paper bags, but anything that isn’t, you can give back to Riverford for re-use or recycling. With Riverford, I’m buying from local producers and seasonally. It’s changed the way I cook and buy, but without a negative impact, more of a conscious one.

2. Dried fruit and nuts from Real Plastic Free, as it promises their produce is packaged in compostable packaging – I buy a lot of these products for snacks and also to make breakfasts that keep us all going throughout our busy mornings. I make a larger version of my Birsher Muesli using cooked apple and pear and topped with walnuts or flaked almonds. I also add prunes to mine.

3. Home composting – We have two large compost bins in our garden, which we’ve had for over ten years. Most of our food waste goes in here and I’ve recently discovered home-compostable coffee pods that I’ve switched to in order to reduce the waste caused by using the Nespresso machine. Up to now, I’d been taking them to my local Costa, as they offer a recycling scheme.

4. Meat from the local butcher – This is one thing that really gets my goat. You can’t buy meat in plactic free packaging from the supermarket, even if you go to the butcher section. My local butcher, on the other hand, has switched to a bees wax-lined paper that can be recycled along with other paper products. I’m now buying locally produced meat too and supporting a local business, which is all to the good.

5. Conscious toilet paper – Okay, so now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty, I had heard so much talk of this, I had to give it a go – Who Gives a Crap. Heard of it? The name itself is one you’re not likely to forget, but if you want recycled, tree-conscious loo roll, these are your people. I ordered a box to see what it’s like. We now have enough toilet roll to keep us going for the foreseeable future!

Right, so can you see how many different places I went to in order to get my weekly shopping? I’m talking virtually, by the way, so it wasn’t as though I had to trail around, collecting all these different things and polluting the environment with fuel (all except the butcher, but they do offer a delivery service). No, I did all this from the comfort of my own home, as I tend to do with food shopping.

The difference is, I would normally do the whole lot in one go from a well-known supermarket chain. That’s the convenience isn’t it? That is the whole reason why the large supermarkets have done so well and killed off our high streets and small businesses.

The trouble is, apart from buying loose vegetables and offering cleaning and washing products that are environmentally friendly and come in recycled plastic bottles, I can’t see much else that the supermarkets are doing to help people consume less plastic. Everything, from meat, to bread, to cheese, to crisps and snacks. EVERYTHING comes in some form of plastic packaging.

We can recycle some things now, such as yoghurt pots, milk and juice cartons. Not all councils offer this service though. It’s dependent on where you live. But realistically, that’s not the point is it? We need to use less, not just rely on recycling because personally, I believe the recycling industry is under tremendous pressure and is unable to fulfil its duty.

There are a lot of people like me, who are shopping around to find alternatives to their usuals. You can’t beat the convenience of a supermarket though, can you?

I was telling my kids the other day that supermarkets only started to become ‘a thing’ when I was a young girl. Back then, the supermarket was the size of what are now known as the ‘Express’ or ‘Metro’ versions. We thought they were huge at the time, but at least they were situated in the towns.

Moving supermarkets out of towns, making them superstores, not only killed off small businesses and even high streets, it allowed the supermarket chains to have the monopoly on food and farming as a whole. We now live on mass-produced foods that are cheap and convenient.

This is great for the consumer, in theory, but what about the environment? It comes at the expense of everything else and I don’t think that people really appreciated this up until recently. We’re most of us fully on-board with the idea of using less plastics, so supermarkets – HELP US. DO YOUR BIT TOO.

It really shouldn’t be too much to ask, should it?


  • Reply

    Vicki Montague

    13th January 2020

    Great article Nicola! We are also doing our bit to reduce plastics and today I am swapping energy suppliers to a fully green one 🙂

    • Reply

      Nicola Young

      13th January 2020

      We can all do our bit, but I do think we need help from the bigger corporations.

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