Dave against Plastics – The Results!


During January, we had a household challenge not to buy any food that had plastic on. It was part of our January food challenges that we’ve been doing for a few years now. This blog is an update on how it went.

It’s been just over a month now since we stopped our single use plastic challenge. By single use, in essence it was anything plastic that was made for the packaging the food. This included plastic bottles, plastic boxes, lids, packaging, the salad and crisp packaging, plastic trays. Even if they could be recycled we still didn’t buy it. I have to say it was a real eyeopener – literally everything is covered in plastic, towards the end of the month I was really fed up with the challenge and it really highlighted the huge dependence that we currently have on plastic. It’s no wonder its such a global issue.

Shopping became very stressful as numerous aisles there was not one thing we could buy! But we made it, here are some of my findings:

  • Milk&More aka ‘The Milkman’ has been great, getting milk delivered regularly has been wonderful and the nostalgia of picking up fresh milk on the door step at the same price as buying it from the supermarket has been a revelation. The real highlight of the month and we’ve continued to use this service. I never need to buy a plastic container for my milk again!
  • Most supermarkets offer loose fruit & veg purchasing now, and some are even getting rid of the plastic bags and replacing them with paper bags. But, the variety is limited – there are some items that you just cant buy, cucumbers the best example
  • Many independent and organic shops are great, but still have a lot of plastic on them. We saw some refill places which were awesome and price wise looked good but we never needed to use this service
  • Some jars have that seemingly little pointless plastic coating around the lid – this was most frustrating when we finally thought we’d struck gold with some items we could buy.
  • Bread gets expensive – from £4 sourdough just because it’s in a paper bag, and lots of the places that offer fresh bread still put it in a bag with a plastic window. In the end I would go to a bakery with my own old bread bag and ask them to put this in there, which they always did very happily.
  • Single use plastic pint glasses at football stadiums are a giant waste! I took my own to a recent match and again the server was very happy to put it in my own (plastic) glass. Perhaps and hopefully I’m not the first to ask this. I hear that some places give you a glass for a £5 deposit and give it back when you take the glass back – amazing idea.

All in all, my conclusion is, there’s nothing really an individual can do to reduce plastic when it comes to food. Well there is, but it has a minimal impact. For me the power is in the hands of the retailers. This is not blaming them or shifting the responsibility on them but the public will buy whatever the shops put on the shelves. If all the plastic packaging was removed from the cucumbers for example – we’d all still buy the cucumbers. Same with the fruit. If retailers sold milk in glass bottles only, again we’d simply buy that.

The challenge of course is logistics and pricing – at a time of inflation, huge energy prices, removing the cheap packaging of plastic will send prices even higher I’m sure. There’s no doubt in my mind that this needs to happen but we’re in a catch 22 situation of not acting now and we continue along the path of destroying the planet at rapid pace, or acting now and sending even more people into poverty which I’m sure brings it’s own carbon ramifications as well. I’m pragmatic about the issues, my feeling is we can do more and should to more to remove the packaging some of it simply doesn’t need to be there.

I’m glad we did it, and raised a bit of awareness of not using as much plastic, we will continue to use as little as we can and hope that we find a solution to these hugely complex and worrying problems!

Any suggestions for next January’s food challenge gladly received 😊