Monthly Archives: July 2013

How much plastic do we use in a week?

Regular readers may remember just under 2 weeks ago I posted about my Plastic Free Challenge, well, a few days late due to some forgotten commitments, unusually good British weather prompting a few big bike rides and an impromptu game of squash here I am with my first follow up post.


I used this much plastic in a week

My first week was a control week in which I would collect every piece of plastic I consumed rather than throwing it in the rubbish or the recycle bin and I have to say, I was shocked at just how much plastic I did use in just the week. I’m just 1 person and it’s for less than 2% of the year. I like to think of myself as a fairly low level offender when it comes to plastic but I made some of the even most fundamental mistakes during the week. In my week’s collection, I have plastic grocery bags and water bottles. I carry a reusable water bottle and I have a drawer full of canvas shopping bags but they still crept into my life during the week.

Today, I started my plastic “free” week. While I am acutely aware that it is not going to be possible to cut out plastic from my life 100% – walking the aisles at the supermarket reveals very little not wrapped in plastic – there are definitely areas where it could be greatly reduced. The fundamentals I mentioned above will be strictly adhered to and I will be taking active steps to drastically reduce if not completely cut out plastic from my life.

I’ll report back in a week with how I got on.


Plastic Free Challenge

Plastic_AquaticA key motivator for our entry in the Great Pacific Race is our desire to raise awareness of plastic in the worlds’ oceans. Less than a quarter of all of the plastic used in Europe and the US is recycled. The rest is destined to spend eternity sitting in landfills or will end up in oceanic gyres such as the Great Pacific garbage patch.

We humans take plastic for granted. It is a key component in just about everything we touch, consume and do. Sitting here on my bed writing this, just about everything I have in my eyesight either contains plastic or came packaged in plastic. I’m tapping away on plastic keys on my laptop, the insides house yet more plastic, my bedding came packaged in plastic, my bike has many plastic components, my windows are plastic, even my chili plants are reliant on plastic; the soil came in a plastic bag, as did the seeds and the pots are plastic…. I won’t go on, you get the idea. This plastic will exist long long after I’m gone and will end up in the previously mentioned places and/or on/in wildlife.

I have decided to set myself a small challenge (in the grand scheme of things, to be just doing this for a week initially, it is a VERY small effort) to see how much I can and how easy it is to reduce my plastic consumption. I am under no disillusions that I will be able to cut plastic out of my life completely and while currently I do try and limit my plastic consumption, I feel if I am not actively taking every step possible to shave as much plastic out of my life as physically possible it makes me somewhat of a hypocrite to be rowing for this cause.

Starting tomorrow morning (Thursday 11th July 2013), for a week, I will live my life as usual, collecting the plastic waste of everything I buy, eat and use. Then, the next week, starting the following Thursday (18th July), I will cut out as much plastic as I am physically able, if something runs out, I will replace it with a plastic free alternative. I will collect everything and compare the waste from the 2 weeks to see just how much plastic we can cut back on with a little thought and effort.

I’m expecting this to be very, very tough. Big concerns for me are:

  • Milk – I love milk but I can’t think of any alternative ways of getting milk on my cereal without heading out into the country, chasing a cow through a field, rugby tackling it and spraying it’s milk onto my breakfast directly from the cow’s udders.
  • Pasta – Being a pretty terrible cook; an easy meal option for me is pasta. I eat a LOT of the stuff. Thinking to the supermarket shelves I can’t think of a single way that pasta comes not in plastic. Even the fancy pasta in the cardboard boxes has a plastic window.
  • Toiletries – Toothpaste, shower gel, shaving foam, deoderant, toothbrush – if these run out, or my housemates “borrow” them, as they are prone to, I’m not sure what I will do. Couple this with a week of cycling and I could end up a very smelly man!
  • Meat/Fish – I eat a lot of canned fish (see above about my cooking skills) which is fine – but ~3 times per week, I will have chicken, beef or turkey. Supermarkets are obviously out so I’ll need to locate my nearest butcher.
  • Bread – I’m crossing my fingers that the bread bags from the bakery at my local supermarket don’t have plastic windows or I’ll be seeking out my local bakery….. or going without bread.

If anyone has any suggestions to help me out on the above concerns, any websites I should read or any other tips to help me dramatically cut down my plastic intake, I’d love to hear them and would ask you to post them in the comments below or let me know over twitter (@pacificrowers).

I’ll post again next Wednesday evening with the control week results.