Putting new habits into place (and failing)

Filed in Blog by on June 10, 2008 11 Comments
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plastic culprits in my shopping cart
Old habits die hard don’t they?

I was tired, rushed and hassled when I placed my weekly Sainsbury’s order. I unpacked it today to realise I had bought three very non zero waste friendly products:

1- Grapeseed oil in a plastic bottle. <gasp>

2- Kallo gravy granules come in a plastic jar with a plastic lid. <shock>

3- Cocoa powder with a plastic top- I’m kicking myself over this as I had good intentions about looking for a zero waste alternative then convenience won over. <quelle horreur>

Ho hum.

What I’m learning most about this challenge is the time aspect. I know I will soon be acting like a zero waste pro, but at the moment I’m like a toddler learning to walk. Two steps requires effort, concentration, focus and determination.

It’s easy to slip into the convenient option when you’re not feeling 100%.

Obviously we have lots of things in the house to use up that were here before we started this challenge and I’m seeing more and more how non recyclable packaging (most notably plastic) is in our lives.

A glass jar of herbs for example, has a plastic lid. If you go for the refill option, the cardboard box contains two small cellophane packages. The glass gravy jar has a plastic top (except I discovered today that gravy comes in plastic containers now!), filter coffee comes in a tin with a plastic cap. It’s everywhere! We’ve had the bronze age, the stone age, the ice age – will we be referred to as the plastics age?

All this talk of food has reminded me. I need to make bread. At least that isn’t creating plastic waste any more since I’ve started making it………..


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (11)

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  1. Sue says:

    Thanks Mrs G. I too need to make bread, but I need to battle my way down the stairs first! And then tr to make the bread while hopping round the kitchen on crutches, Hmmm! How do I get the yeast out of the fridge with crutches in my hands! Hmmm! I think I better wait until the children get home!

  2. Sue says:

    But, to the point, yes plastic, we ARE living in the plastic age, that convenient light weight invention that gets everywhere.
    I found it frustrating when the children were younger, I wanted to buy good quality toys that were made to last, but everything was plastic. I think all we can do at the moment it try to find alternatives, but it is difficult, and maybe buying larger packets reduces the amount of plastic.
    I always wanted to do what Kate suggested, remove the plastic at the till, but I have never been brave enough to do it!
    I think you are making great progress by just being aware, ok, you slipped back, but you will remember next time. And remember to take your time, make small gradual changes(take baby steps!!). The plastic oil bottle can be recyled, so thats a bit better. You may find that you will start to eat different things as your habits change.

  3. Melissa says:

    Mrs. Green:
    I’m such a newbie at this kind of thing. I’m curious – in this day and age how on earth you can totally escape plastics? Everything you buy is covered in it. In North America at least I’m just not sure how I could possibly go plastic-free as much as I would love to be able to. I’ll admit I haven’t really tried, but in preparing a grocery list I don’t see any non-plastic packaged alternatives on the shelves for things like coffee or peanut butter or salad dressing etc.
    So my point is – I wouldn’t beat yourself up, you are doing fabulous! And, I’d be interested in some alternate ideas for goods that in the stores are always packaged in plastics…?

  4. Mrs Green says:

    How are you doing on those crutches Sue? Buying wooden toys is easier now, but that’s changed a lot even in recent years. It was quite difficult a short 8 years ago to get something good that was affordable and made from wood from a decent source. Interestingly the wooden toys are now in a box as ‘heirlooms’ whereas the plastic ones are long broken and dumped in the landfill πŸ™

    I’d like to do the checkout thing too, but don’t have the courage. I’m finding refusing carrier bags takes quite a bit of energy in some places.

    In not sure about this bottle being recyclable, it’s a number 4 I think πŸ™ and the cocoa powder actually says ‘sorry, not recyclable yet’ on the container……

    Never mind; I’ll remember to buy glass bottles for the oil next time but we’ll have to switch from grapeseed in order to buy it.

    Mrs G x

  5. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Melissa, A friend from across the pond – you are so welcome here πŸ™‚

    It *is* a challenge and one that we knew would have its difficulties. We are still in the early days but already we’ve found an alternative to most meat packaging. We can now get chicken, sausages, bacon and cooked meat from our butcher and he’ll put it straight into my own box. I’m making bread and I’m going to have a go at yogurt too.

    Regarding coffee and salad dressing. I’m not sure what you mean by salad dressing, but I make my own from olice oil, lemon juice and herbs although I’m sure we could buy things like that in glass jars over here. As for the coffee; well that’s Mr green’s domain as he is the only one who drinks it. I’ll let him figure it out πŸ˜€

    Mrs G x

  6. Hi Mrs G – those darn habits. I have heard that it takes about 30 days to change a grown up’s habits…not sure if that means 30 consecutive days or 30 actual days. If it’s the latter, you can’t expect miracles for almost 3 years on a weekly shop..LOL!

    You are doing brilliantly. In a way, it’s great that you’ve not got the option of mixed plastics collection, as it highlights other options that are out there.

    Re coffee, that happens to be Mr A’s domain too. He tends to go for the fresh grounds or coffee beans which he gets off the market in a paper bag. xx

  7. Mrs Green says:

    Well, that’s a good perspective Mrs A; I feel better already πŸ™‚

    Mrs Green is very particular about his coffee and we don’t have anywhere that sells fresh beans for miles, so that’s a no goer. At the moment he is reusing the containers for other things. Not really the point as they will end up in the landfill at some point, but there you go.

    He only has one cup a day, first thing so it’s not too bad…….

    Mrs G x

  8. Sue says:

    What is it with the men? Coffee is down to dh! Although I buy it! We tend to buy instant for everyday use, and have ground in the fridge for special, or weekends. We buy a certain brand of coffee, always when it is bogof, it has a glass jar and a glass lid. I use these jars for storing herbs and spices, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, sugar, salt etc. I have about 30 in the cupboards (collected over many years) and could still do with more! This month we did change to a fairtrade coffee, we bulk bought it, and it was delivered to the door. So saving fuel, and being more ethical (fairtrade) but it has a plastic lid! And it would no make a very attractive storage container. Dilema, so do I keep my eyes open for the glass jars on offer, or order with my bulk order?

  9. Mrs Green says:

    Is that the ground coffee that comes in glass jars with glass lids Sue? It’s only ground coffee that Mr Green will drink and we’d like to find something in a better container if we can find something he likes.

    Perhaps I’ll buy him a coffee grinder for Christmas and get some beans in a paper bag from Whittards for him to try πŸ˜‰

    Mrs G x

  10. indiebird says:

    Plastic lids can be recycled here in italy and they go in with my plastic waste. There are also a lot of shops here that collect lids so they can go off in bulk to be recycled. I have to say that I used to have a large instant coffee habit in the uk and then wondered why I had problems sleeping!!!! Last xmas dh brought me a coffee grinder and although my friends thought it was very unromantic I thought it was a great idea and I love it and I now buy beans in paper bags and grind them in my grinder for my one breakfast cup of proper lovely coffee a day. Pure bliss and it feels like the luxury it should be. I think that some of this ‘stuff’ is just getting your head round to a new way of thinking and looking at things. Yes a chicken from the butchers is more expensive than the supermarket but it is nicer, tastes better and should be savoured not just eaten as an everyday occurence and forgotten about…. I know it’s easier said than done but sometimes its just a shift in mindset that needs to come first….

  11. Mrs Green says:

    Great comment, Indiebird – thank you. I love how you have embraced some changes in your lifestyle in order to address environmental issues. I agree we do need a change in our mindset; it’s not fair to tell people it’s easy or just as convenient to make these choices, because it isn’t (especially at first). I have a sneaking suspicion things will become much easier though, even in the form of not having so much choice! In today’s society I feel overwhelmed by my consumer choices, but now I’m feeling more liberated as my choices are narrowed down. Sounds crazy, but that’s how I see it at the moment.

    The idea of grinding your own beans to make coffee turns that cup of coffee into a real event – one which has your energy invested in it. I can imagine how much more satisfying that must be. Like a meal you’ve taken an hour or so to prepare πŸ™‚

    Oh, the chicken that was more expensive from the butcher? It’s lasted the cat for 8 days now – so it’s clearly better value for money; I guess happier chickens produce more meat πŸ˜€

    Mrs G x

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