Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Take the 100 step plastic reduction challenge

In our modern world is is impossible to avoid plastic.  It is all around us that in many cases we probably do not even notice it yet its negative effect on the planet is devastating.  Plastic is made from fossil fuels that were laid down many millions of years ago, locking up carbon and you can read more about why this is so bad in a recent blog I wrote - 100 ways to reduce your plastic use. Scientists estimate that there are 269,000 tons of plastic pollution may be floating in the world's oceans made up of some 5.25 TRILLION plastic particles.  We are even eating plastic and microplastic particles have been found in mussels, oysters and sea scallops.  It is even estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic, by weight, in the ocean than fish.  That is plastic that YOU and I have used and thrown away. 

Image from the Marine Conservation Society

We absolutely need to reduce how much plastic we use, especially single use plastic.  The Marine Conservation Society is challenging us to The Plastic Challenge and to give up all single use plastic for a month.  Will you join in?  Even if you cannot give up all single use plastic for a month please see what you can do.  Could you swap your ketchup from a plastic bottle to a glass one?  Or what about making some snacks rather than buying plastic wrapped cakes?  Do you really need another toiletry product or could you find those hankies and ditch those plastic wrapped tissues?   There is lots of useful information on the Marine Conservation Society Plastic Challenge website and I can help you a bit more.  Why not use my 100 ways to reduce plastic list to help identify where you are using plastic and how you can ban it from your life for ever.  

Will you take my 100 ways to reduce your plastic challenge too and feed back how your plastic reduction journey is going?  If you blog about it please do add a link in a comment.

Together we can work together to reduce this plastic scourge. 

My plastic reduction successes and failures

Food and Drink, Shopping

1.  Buy food from bulk bins that use paper bags - I am increasing how much of this I do.
2.  Store loose food in glass jars - mason or kilner jars look great - Do this.
3.  Say no to fizzy drinks and water in plastic bottles - I almost never buy fizzy drinks but still do buy the occasional bottle of water ... that I then refill with tap water.
4.  Squeeze your own fruit juice - I don't but I buy juice in glass bottles or sometime tetrapaks and recycle both (or reuse the bottle when I collect my milk from the farm).
5.  Make your own coleslaw and other salads - I do this most of the time but have a weak spot for shop bought couscous salad (tabbouleh) .... but can report since starting to write this post I have made my ownn and whilst it was very different to the shop bought one it was really tasty and got the thumbs up from everyone!
6.  Buy loose fruit/veg not those that are pre-packed in plastic bags or trays - I do this whenever I can and take my own reuse able bags. In France produce bags are now made from corn starch but I still reuse these as many times as I can.  I was saddened to see how much UK fresh produce was plastic wrapped though.
7.  You don't need to place a single fruit or veg you buy in a bag at all - have never done this
8.  Avoid ready meals - Yup.  I do occasionally buy a ready made salad for the boys' picnic lunch when I am pushed for time though so need to work on making my own.
9.  Eat less take-aways - the only one we ever get now is the odd pizza in a cardboard box!
10.  Make your own ketchup/mayonnaise etc or buy these in glass bottles - yup.
11.  Stop chewing gum - it's made from plastic - horrible stuff and I never liked it anyway!
12.  Grow some of your own food - YES!!
13.  Shop at farmers' markets and take your own non plastic bags - For me this is French markets where many of the stall owners use paper bags or none at all ... one who doesn't is the man I buy my seedlings from so I am trying to remember to take my own bags!
14. Use local shops (butcher, baker etc) who will allow you to take your own non plastic bags - I keep forgetting to take a bag to the bakers ... but often the bread she sells is unwrapped anyway.
15.  Use you milk man - I now buy my milk directly from the farmer next door and reuse glass bottles
16.  Buy an ice cream cone rather than  plastic wrapped ice cream/lolly - I make my own ice cream
17.  Make your own yoghurt - BIG fail here.  I have never managed to make yoghurt I like and buy small pots which actually saves wastages but is a lot of non recyclable plastic
18.  Make your own snack bars, cakes and biscuits - I have reduced down the amount of snack bars I buy the boys but do still buy them for their after sport snack.  Need to work on this one.
19.  Avoid multi-packs with products wrapped in plastic film or cans with ring holders - yup
20.  If you must buy something in plastic buy the biggest size possible which contains proportionally less plastic per kg/litre of product - Do this with the exception of yoghurt because it wither all gets eaten in one hit by th eboys or opened and then ignored and goes off.
21.  Buy wine with real corks, not plastic - do this and now know which brands have real cork!
22.  Buy refills which use less plastic packaging than new products - in France I can't recycle the refills so feel it is actually better to buy plastic bottle where I have to and at least they are downcycled once.  I do however really limit how many plastic bottles I buy.
23.  Do not use coffee pods - never have and never will.
24.  Do not buy individually plastic wrapped tea bags - if I buy those that turn out to be plastic wrapped I do not buy them again.  I mostly drink loose tea which has no plastic wrapping.

Out and About 

25.  Say no to plastic straws in food outlets - I do
26.  Say no to plastic bags in all shops, not just supermarkets - I do
27.  If you find somewhere that doesn't use plastic throw away cutlery, tell the world about it via your friends and social media.  The Lost Gardens of Heligan use wooden cutlery, not plastic. I do
28.  Say no to "cardboard" coffee cups - they are lined with polyethylene aka plastic.  Take your own mug instead. TBH in the last year I have only bought coffee to take away twice ... but I will put a mug in my car in case that happens again.
29.  Take your own wooden chop sticks to your local Chinese restaurant. N/A
30.  Ask for a finger bowl and cloth instead of plastic wrapped wipes in restaurants N/A
31.  Don't buy plastic wrapped magazines - Fail here as I am pretty sure the history magazine I like was plastic wrapped.  However I do pass it on to a friend who also passes it on so it is well read!

Babies and Children

32.  Switch from disposable nappies to washable cloth ones - I did.
33.  Ditch disposable wipes and use a washable cloth - I did.
34.  Buy glass feeding bottles - I did.
35.  Buy wooden toys - I did where-ever possible.
36.  For pack lunches avoid plastic wrapped foods and offer sandwiches wrapped in foil or greaseproof paper, a piece of fruit, a home-made snack and a drink in a reusable bottle - I do.
37.  Pass on unwanted plastic toys to younger children/toy libraries/play groups etc - I do or they go in the gite.


38.  Make your own cleaning products with bicarbonate of soda and vinegar ensuring these are bought in cardboard boxes and glass bottles - I am increasing how much I do this but do need to do more.
39.  Use washing powder sold in cardboard boxes rather than washing liquid - Fail but I am looking at using washing balls again.
40.  Use soap nuts or washing balls instead of washing liquid - Am going to give these a go
41.  You don't need wipes - use a washable cloth - yup.
42.  Use dishwasher tabs in biodegradable film - I do.

Personal Care

43.  Ditch disposable razors for a metal safety razor or go hirsute -  a mix of still using disposables but going hirsute all through the winter!
44.  Use a bar of soap not liquid soap in a plastic bottle - Yes.
45.  Use shampoo bas - Yes.
46.  Stop using shower gels that contain micro beads - these are made from polyethylene i.e. plastic - Yes.
47.  Buy wooden handled tooth brushes - Fail as  I have yet to find one hard enough for my liking.
48.  Buy a wooden handled hairbrush - I have not but in my defence I have the same hairbrush I had as a teenager (and the same hair dryer!)
49.  Use washable menstrual products - I haven't but I am of a certain age where these will hopefully soon be a thing of the past anyway!
50.  Make your own remedies for minor ailments eg elderberry port for sore throats stored in a glass bottle - Yes.
51.  Use a handkerchief not plastic wrapped tissues - does loo roll count? I do also use hankies!
52.  Give up smoking! - I have never smoked!


53.  Avoid clothes and shoes made from synthetic materials - Where possible I do or I buy second hand.
54.  Make your own clothes using old materiel when you can or upcycling old clothes to new - I am a failed seamstress but I do make my clothes last and buy second hand.
55.  Buy second hand clothes that have minimal plastic packaging - I do!

Around the house

56.  Use glass, metal or wooden storage containers - I do.
57.  Use wooden or metal cooking utensils - I do.
58.  Do you really need to bag it before you bin it? In France you have to bag your rubbish in plastic bags or they won't collect it but I cram as much in as possible and use the plastic sacks animal feed comes in. 
59.  If it's broken can you mend it? - I try.
60.  Say no to junk mail - sign up to The Mail Preference Service - I have signed up for the French equivalent.
61.  Download music and films instead of buying CDs and DVDs - I do.
62.  Use matches not a disposable lighter - oops, fail here as French matches are pretty crap.
63.  When doing DIY and house renovations go for natural products - wooden door frames, cotton curtains etc - yes.
64.  Use old sheets as dust covers not new plastic ones - a mix of yes and no as we did buy some new plastic ones recently as we didn't have enough sheets and had some major works to do in the gite.
65.  Wash and reuse that plastic freezer bag - I do as many times as possible.

At work

66.  Take in your own mug for water and drinks from the machines - No water machine at home!
67.  Use all paper jiffy bags, not those with plastic inside - I have never bought the plastic lined ones and reuse those that I do get.
68.  Buy envelopes without plastic windows - Yes and I reuse envelopes I receive.
69.  Go for paperless billing to avoid plastic window envelopes - Yes.
70.  Buy a "real" pen that uses a refill - Fail.
71.  Do not upgrade to a new phone etc.  You were quite happy with your old one when you first got it!- I still have a Nokia that is over 12 years old!


72.  So no to plastic pet toys - Saaari never plays anyway!
73.  Avoid plastic feed bowls - Yes.
74.  Avoid pet food in plastic sachets - Yes.
75.  Make your own pet treats - Yes.

Christmas, Easter, birthdays etc

76.  Give service gifts such as a free baby sitting night, evening at the theatre, a meal out, sponsor a child or support a wildlife/environmental charity - Yes.
77.  Wrap gifts without sellotape - use raffia or string and get creative - Fail ... a quick update from when I started writing this post and I wrapped son's birthday presents in a paper bag I had previously received a present in and closed it with paper clips!
78.  Make decorations from natural materials - yes plus we use the same ones we have had for years some of which are glass!
79.  Make plastic free gifts such as preserves and handmade clothes/accessories - Yes.
80.  Send e-cards - Yes.
81.  At parties ask guests to bring their own cutlery and crockery rather than supplying plastic throw away ones - Yes.
82.  Make your own chocolate gifts at Easter to avoid all that plastic - Yes.
83.  Avoid buying online where products are often sent with lots of plastic wrapping  - Yes (mostly).
84.  Grow your own flowers/pot plants as gifts - I very rarely give bought flowers.

In the garden

85.  Use terracotta or biodegradable plant pots - mostly or I reuse the plastic ones several times.
86.  Re-purpose plastic fruit/veg trays as seed trays - yes.
87.  Re-purpose yoghurt pots as seedling pots - yes.
88.  Use plastic bottles to help direct water to the roots tomato plants etc - details here: water-wise tomatoes - yes.
89.  Use polystyrene as crocks in your plant pots - yes when I have it which is rare now!
89.  Make your own labels from plastic bottles or buy those made from natural materials - Fail but I do use mine several times as I always write on in pencil that can be rubbed off so have not bought new ones for years!

In Summary

For the foreseeable future plastic is going to be part of our everyday lives but we can take steps to reduce how much we use which can be summarised thus:

90.  Get into the habit of seeing where plastic exists is the first step to reducing how much of it you have in your life - yes.
91.  Think before you buy and switch to non plastic alternatives where possible - silicone is a safer option - yes.
92.  Re-use the plastic you do have as much as you can - yes.
93.  Upcycle plastic into new things - yes.
94.  Ask yourself "Do I really need to buy this plastic product?" - yes.
95.  Write to manufacturers to say you are boycotting their plastic based products or packaging - on my To Do list.  Asda will be first as they ignored my tweet asking why all their fresh produce was plastic wrapped.
96.  If you must buy plastic then look for second hand rather than new - yes.
97.  Work towards eliminating single use plastic in your life - yes.
98.  If you have to buy a plastic item (not something in plastic packaging) make it the best quality possible to ensure it lasts as long as possible - yes (I cite my hairbrush as a fine example!)
99. If you follow the 4 Rs you will help reduce your plastic use - reduce, re-use, repair and recycle (the first 3 being the most important) - yes.
100.   Finally and perhaps most important of all we need a fifth R - Raising awareness.  When people are aware of a problem they are much better placed to find a solution so please, share this post and let's help everyone to reduce their plastic habit - well you are reading this so YES!

Will YOU take the challenge?  Please do let me know how you get on in a comment.  Also drop me a note if you have any other great ideas of how we can all reduce the amount of plastic we use in our lives and more importantly chuck away and I'll add them to a new blog post soon.


  1. When I go shopping I take my own bags and when I get plastic bags I make sure to recycle them by taking them to the supermarket and place them in the recycle bin, I don't like stuff that has a lot of packaging that isn't needed. I rarely use the clothes dryer preferring to hang my washing on the line in order to dry.

    1. In the UK I was really pleased to just be handed the shoes I bought without them being put in a bag ... but then I saw how much fresh produce was plastic wrapped and realise the UK still has along way to go to reduce the plastic scourge ... and the belief by so many that it is necessary. But each step each of us takes to reduce plastic in our lives is s positive one.

    2. I found out recently that many supermarkets take the bags from the recycle bin and throw them in the trash. :(

  2. What a great challenge! I'll have to see how well I'm doing so we can compare. Thanks for sharing on the #WasteLessWednesday Blog Hop!

  3. Fabulous challenged - pinned and shared.

  4. I love this list! I also like how you share what you did well and shared the struggles, too! I do many of these things, but I'm going to try to step it up a bit!

  5. HI Rosie,
    I sure will give it a try, but I do as many of these as I can already, but I think there is few things I could approve in. #GoingGreenLinky Tweeted & pinning.

  6. This is a fantastic lists with tons of great ideas.
    My next step is to purchase a safety razor but they are quite expensive so I want to make sure I get the right one!

    I'd also like to replace the kids plastic water bottles with a non-plastic alternative but I'm not sure what would work.

    Going to share this on my social feeds #GoingGreenLinky

  7. Fantastic list, thanks for sharing. Lx

  8. This is a great list Rosie. Thank you for sharing. #GoingGreenLinky

  9. Rosie,
    These are really great ideas. I never realized how many ways we use plastic. I store in glass and cover and use plates to cover bowls but never thought about straws when eating out or the plastic cutlery- thank you for helping to raise my awareness..

  10. I somehow missed this post earlier in the year but lots of good ideas here. I am trying to cut down on plastic but still have a long way to go - we have recently swapped to bar soap rather than liquid soap.