The best thing about the last 12 days has actually been the sense of community and camaraderie around the whole thing, which is not at all what I expected when I struck out on my own doing this. I’ve found so many people who want to make the same types of changes, and it’s been so encouraging.
To start with, I was definitely nervous about how my plastic-free challenge was going to impact my interactions with other people. After all, I don’t exist in a silo and the choices I make affect the people around me. Generally when I explain about my eco-choices (not eating beef because of its environmental footprint, buying all-natural cleaning and personal hygiene products, even my Ecoballs), the response is that I’m a bit of a weirdo. I expected something similar with this.
When I cautiously announced to my boyfriend that I was giving up plastic for Lent, I don’t think he quite realised that he was, too. But the look on his face during our first food shopping trip told me he’d got it. I had a mini breakdown in the cheese aisle from the guilt of having to explain that no, we couldn’t have any of the food he wanted because it was all wrapped in plastic.
“So what are we going to eat?”
“Well, I’ve just been eating soup.”
*Very unimpressed look.*
We’ve come a long way from here, and are actually eating some pretty good stuff!
I was also a bit worried about how to cater when entertaining. It’s one thing for me to live off a limited and sometimes unusual diet, but to inflict that on guests is another! I managed to throw together a (very tasty) risotto for my parents when they visited, so the zero-plastic thing ended up not being an issue. But I was really touched by the fact that they’d bought me a chocolate cake and put it in an old tin because they hadn’t wanted to bring me something plastic.
That pretty much sums up the reaction I’ve had from everybody; people are genuinely interested and supportive and encouraging. Even the people who’ve said they’d never do something like this themselves are watching with interest to see what’s possible.
I’m also very grateful for the online community of people trying the same type of lifestyle changes that I am. I’m part of the Facebook groups Plastic-Less Lent 2018 and Journey to Zero-Waste in the UK, which are an amazing bunch of people giving each other advice and sharing ideas. It’s so encouraging to feel like you’re part of something much bigger than yourself, and something that’s gaining momentum quickly.
And it really is! A recent study has shown that an amazing 93% of Brits are trying to reduce the amount of plastic they use. Three in five families claim to buy loose fruit and veg rather than pre-packed, and 44% are turning back to washing powder in cardboard boxes. A poll of parents found that 98% – almost every single person – would be more likely to buy a brand that was actively cutting down its plastic use.
This zero-plastic thing is difficult, to be honest. But I just have this great feeling that it’s going to get easier, and quickly. Because this is how you change the world; real people getting together and not only imagining a better way to be, but spurring each other on to make that change.
Plastic so far: 1.5g
- Energy bar wrapper
- Plastic window in the box of a Cafe Nero wrap