My Plastic Free February

Words by Alex Monroe 

I’ve never been one for giving things up. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions and I don’t really get things like Dry January. But I have been feeling a growing concern about how wasteful we can be and the harm that’s being done to the environment. So giving up plastic was a bit more interesting and thanks to Friends of the Earth’s Drastic on Plastic challenge, I thought it was time to give it a go!


Starting Out

We’ve always done our bit at home… Re-usable shopping bags in the car and we recycle as much as possible. But I’ve always found excuses if it wasn’t convenient, and I’ve been struck by how some of the efforts we might make at home often don’t seem to happen when we get to work. I’m concerned that sometimes profit might trump the environment, which I think is completely wrong.

 I wondered how easy it would be to go plastic free at home and at work!

The rules are simple; (It’s supposed to be fun, not too rigid) During the month of February we would try our best to find alternatives to single use plastics, and where that wasn’t possible we would let the supplier know that we were disappointed and ask if they could offer an alternative in the future?

"It’s really encouraging to know that the next generation really do care about what we’re doing to the environment and they’re not afraid to shout about it!"

The Challenges

And (here’s the surprise)… I really did enjoy it, so we’re going to continue, both at work and at home.

There have been plenty of disappointments of course. Often large companies just reply with a stock response, lots of waffle about how much they care for the environment without answering my questions. Milk was a problem for us. A couple of times I did need to buy milk from our local Sainsbury’s. They have so many milks on offer; semi-skimmed, soya, lactose free, fat free… but no plastic free cow’s milk. I was fobbed off with a stock response so no joy there. At least I used the bottle for plant labels so it’s wasn’t a complete waste.

Then there is flying! That’s a bit of an environmental disaster to start off with but I do need to travel. There’s no plastic free option on the menus of course, and the waste was extraordinary! I wrote to British Airways, but again I was fobbed off  with a standard reply. Next time I fly I’ll need to be better prepared; drinking bottle, my own food etc. But come on B.A. listen to you customers!


The Triumphs

Ordering on-line can be tricky too, particularly for food. We’re busy and we have kids so ordering food to be delivered is a real help. There are so few websites with a plastic free option. My favourite is They have a great selection of environmental filters.

There were lots of little triumphs too. Our local Sainsbury will now put fresh fish and cheese in our own Tupperware. And I discovered lots of great plastic free shops in our local area. My greatest triumph was a dinner party for eight, four courses, all completely bought and cooked plastic free. The best thing about this was that I bought the bulk of the ingredients in our local greengrocer in Nunhead for under twenty pounds! (Delicious too, see My New Roots. Mmmm….)


Looking Ahead

Right in the middle of the month there was an upsurge of protest by young people around the world about climate change. My daughter Libby joined the demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament. It’s really encouraging to know that the next generation really do care about what we’re doing to the environment and they’re not afraid to shout about it!

By the end of the month we had filled one bag with single use plastic at home. Most of it recyclable. Some of it destined to be seed labels. Not bad at all.

So all in all it’s been great fun and it’s something I’m going to continue. I get the odd huffy shop manager when I make a complaint. But if enough of us keep the pressure up we might just make a change for the better and that would be a wonderful thing.

Thank you for reading!
A :-)


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