Week 1 of trying to live without buying single-use plastic ....

On Tue, 6 June, 2017 - 12:22
mokshini's picture

Lessons learned so far: 

1. Aiming to be vegan AND avoid single-use plastic at the same time is going to be super-challenging: it is really not obvious where to get lentils, beans, vegan quorn, quinoa or nuts & seeds that isn’t sold in plastic wrapping. So I’m going to give myself some slack there ….. 

2. Travel food: there was very little to buy at the food shops at Paddington station that wasn’t wrapped in plastic - rows and rows of plastic tubs each with one portion of appetising  salads and fruits. The only thing available really was loose apples and bananas. However, I realised that the baguettes at the ‘Upper Crust’ stall outside were entirely plastic-free!! Nothing vegan amongst their food though …  :( 

3. Supermarkets: It is really sobering to look through the foods for sale and see how there is hardly anything at all that doesn’t include some single-use wrapping material. I did manage to fill a basket at Tesco’s and avoid any single-use plastic except the seal on the houmous lid: the main realisation was the need to bring my own containers/clean cotton bags  - for the loose bread rolls, mushroom, tomatoes and other veg. Plastic-free houmous - well, I could have a go at making my own?!

4. Local farmers market: as it is over the other side of town I’ve never really included this in my weekly routine, but yes - success!! Bread, fruit and veg and if I wanted to, cheese; all without plastic wrapping and of course many food miles. I even managed to buy salad leaves in a paper bag :)  - on the down side, it is all a bit pricey …. 

Going to the local market also highlights what vegetables are actually in season and local … so, no broccoli to be had at this time of the year; and obviously no lemons, avocados and the like  :(  

The other obvious choice is of course the local greengrocers rather than buying veg at the supermarket

5. Make/Grow my own: Yoghurt and salad leaves are two of the items that are tricky to purchase plastic free - mmm, is it really out of the question that I grow my own salad, and make my own yoghurt?! I’ve done that in the past, not that hard, I’ve just lost the habit …. 

6. Lastly, I have just come across this rather fabulous website - - with a page dedicated to Packaging-Free Shops and Zero Waste Projects UK - sadly not much to be found in Exeter ….. 

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Christine's picture

What an epic challenge you have undertaken, Mokshini. Sadhus.

It’s great to see your experiences itemised as such, because they reveal the opportunities. Just think, the challenges of today may be obsolete in a few years’ time! For example, I know friends who grow their own lettuce and greens inside in a felt-based living wall system. It’s very pretty, and also productive! If such a system was readily available, I would definitely be up for giving it a go, and imagine many others would to! That would sort the salad issue nicely, wouldn’t it? 

On your first point, the issue of ‘vegan’ things, like pulses and nuts inevitably being bagged, do you think buying in bulk would partly address this, that is: one big bag rather than many little bags? Either way, if it’s packaged it’s going to be in plastic, isn’t it. In Canada, there’s a chain of shops called Bulk Barn, in which you can explore aisles of barrels of food stuffs. It’s almost grotesque, to be honest, but with intent and focus you can come away with everything you want/ need, with the plus of being able to transport it home with your own own packaging. Even nut butters (almond, peanut, etc)!

Your final point elucidates the greatest possibility of your efforts, I think, in that you comment that there’s not much to be found in Exter from that webpage. The keyword you forgot to include is “…yet”. Who knows, our actions and queries may have consequences we can’t imagine right now! Sadhus, sister!! 

Prabhakari's picture

And seemingly nothing at all in Wales l