Thursday, July 17, 2014

plastic free July - two weeks in

Okay, so when I find an old cotton reel hiding down the back of the chair that has been there for months it doesn't count right? Not much of a dilemma I admit and I'm pretty sure it could be re-purposed, just not quite so easily as it could when I was working at kindergarten!

I'm doing the Plastic Free July challenge to try to avoid single use plastic for a month.

Again this weeks collection has a fair chunk of tablet blister packs in it, plus a couple of packets from things that were bought specifically for me to use at the bach which have now been finished (some GF wraps to stand in for pizza bases and some feta cheese). These aren't things I would usually buy if I was going to be eating at home as usual, and I quite possibly wouldn't have got if the cooking arrangements at the bach weren't so... odd, ie no stove! We did alright with the wood-fired pizza oven, barbeque, electric frying pan, microwave, and the dinky grill/oven box thingamijig Margaret managed to bake a birthday cake in (I was well impressed with that achievement!). But it was a challenge trying to shop when I'd never been there before and wasn't going to know until it was too late for me to go shopping again what they had planned for meals beyond pizza. However I now know the cunning plan of using the cast iron frying pans in the pizza oven and... anyway I digress.

Rather than seperate out each weeks collections here is two weeksworth together (week one can be seen here).

I've been reading some other peoples experiences about doing the plastic free July challenge and realising that my existing shopping habits certainly make it a lot easier for me than many. For a start I don't do that much shopping and for practical reasons I'm limiting this challenge to things I'm responsible for. I got to the market this weekend so managed to do our vegetable shopping - so that all came loose or in paper bags which went into my cloth shopping bag. It's only whilst I've been sick this year and Phyllis has been buying all the veggies that the amount of fresh food associated plastic has crept up as she goes to Four Square where most of it is pre-packed or puts everything in new bags when she goes to Bells. Buying local produce direct from the growers means there are no sticky plastic lables on the fruit etc. which had become some folks bugbear last week. Hopefully I'll be up to going to the market again from now on, so I'll be able to keep the amount of plastic creeping in to the house that way down again.

When I'm getting the bus back from Auckland etc I'd got into the habit of buying sushi from the shop where you change buses in Kerikeri. I had planned to the same last Tuesday, but I was off eating altogether when the time came, however I had set off prepared! I had my wee Marmite lunchbox with me which I was planning to fill up instead of the plastic trays they have - that being the great advantage of it being a self service sushi shop rather than everything pre-packaged. They serve the pickled ginger out of a big catering box rather than sachets and I was just planning to say no to wasabi and soy sauce having forgotten to refill and bring with me the wee squeezy soy sauce bottle I'd got from there last trip.

One thing that did strike me about this week was sellotape etc! I used some insulation tape in an attempt at some cable management and the first plan failed after a few days so I was about to throw away the tape then realised what it was! So into the bag it went with the rest of the plastic. Also in there is a shop sticker that had been used to seal up some tissue paper around a gift I received. The padded bag that arrived in will get re-used so certainly doesn't count as 'single use' - it was interesting to see it had two recycling numbers on it, presumably one for the bag and one for the bubble wrap inside it. But it doesn't say which is which and one number you can recycle locally and the other you can't... I'll add writing to NZ Post about that to my 'to do' list.

This all made me think about packaging for postage. Generally I re-use jiffy bags/padded packaging that I receive things in, or use brown paper and recycled bubble wrap. But I have to admit between parcels and re-using envelopes I do use a fair amount of sellotape and parcel tape, and I'd been using sellotape without even thinking this month. I've no idea how well brown paper tape works for anything other than mask making, I suppose I'd better get some and find out! Glue is okay for some cases, but comes in a plastic container itself and I'm definitely not going to use Cow Gum I'm afraid, I can smell the stuff just thinking about it and I doubt I've seen a tin since Primary school - which does make me wonder if it is even available here. The enevelope re-user lables I've got are just small address lable size, not the sort that can fold over the top of the envelope to seal it, and it was hard enough to find those! Hmmmm....

The observant will spot an ink cartridge - well that's the last one, I now have a reservoir in my fountain pen so I am back to using bottled ink. I haven't bought a biro in years, but somehow I accumulate freebies. I do have a pack of ball point refills but I seem to lose biros as easily as gain them so them running out isn't usually an issue.

The more time passes doing this the more I realise that keeping single use plastic out of life is a long term strategy not a short term fix. I keep coming across things I'm using up that I actually stopped buying regularly some time ago, partly because my lifestyle has changed or because I bought it when I was really sick and not able to do as much cooking from scratch as I usally do these days, but partly because of making a conscious commitment to keeping throwaway plastic out of my life as much as possible. It would be even more wasteful not to use those things up just because of their plastic component. In theory though as I finish things, this should get easier, right? We'll see!

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