Newsflash…..We’re going plastic free!

Filed in Blog by on November 24, 2008 18 Comments
FavoriteLoadingAdd article to favourites

Little Miss Green came out of her bedroom an hour ago with big wide eyes calling us together for a ‘family conference’.  She had an announcement to make which was very important. So we grabbed the camera and caught it for you all to hear. Don’t ask me what triggered her, but this is what she had to say:


Talk about throwing me in at the deep end! She has declared that from now until the end of the year we are not going to buy any more plastic :O

Sure it’s something we have aspired to, but it’s not something we have achieved, apart from our zero waste week. And, to be honest, I’ve not felt able to do this long term. Quite how I’m going to manage it in the run up to Christmas I don’t know, but I guess we’ll see how we get on. I’m assuming that the sorts of plastic we can recycle are still ok? I’ll just have to ask her how in depth she envisages this ‘plastic free’ lifestyle is going to be later on.

Will I really have to give up kitchen towel and turn to buying expensive Andrex toilet paper that comes wrapped in paper? Can I continue to buy yogurt or will I have to dust off that machine yet again, and how will I buy milk anyway if I can’t get the brand I like in a tetrapak?? Maybe she will declare that the recyclable stuff is ok.
Or is it just the whims of a seven year old that will soon be forgotten when she realises that most Christmas ‘treats’ include some form of plastic packaging?

Are we on the home straight for a plastic free Christmas or will we have given up by the first day of Advent?

Stay tuned (oh, and wish me lots of luck!)…………….

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 (18)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Well you can’t say no to that cute face! Good luck with your plastic free challenge. I hope it’s not too hard on your pocketbook. I’ve been buying milk in glass bottles adn it’s more than twice as expensive!

  2. Shannon says:

    “Recyclable” plastic (although there is really no such thing!) is definitely not okay. There is a great book “Cradle to Cradle” which is a readable book about the toxicity of things and the toxicity of their creation. I’m saying even if you reuse the plastic bottle or bag at home and it doesn’t go to the landfill, it is poisoning you.

    Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t found the way to completely remove all plastic from my life, but we all would be a lot healthier if we did.

  3. Kris says:

    Good luck with your new challenge 🙂

    I enjoy the realism on this site, both LMG having considered what would be a big impact challenge to choose, and your considered post about how it might work and how sustainable it may be. On the whole my favourite times are not necessarily the moments where you meet a challenge, but the quieter bits where you reflect on how you are carrying on with an initiative and it has become second nature to do it that way.

  4. russell says:

    Hey go girl! Well that’s a challenge for you! I have to say I am not sure about recycled plastic but that is easy for me to say when I am not facing that challenge! I would say not to it as my motivation would be plastic is derived from oil as as well as not all of them are recyclable, so the oil derivative would be my main motivation, hence I would say all plastics. But having said that LMG’s motivation was reducing landfill so you could say from that point of view recyclable plastics would be OK. You could compromise by saying no to all non-recyclable and have a target for reducing recyclable (would mean having some way of ‘measuring’ what you use now.

    LMG is an inspiration to us all! Good luck and looking forward to hearing how it progresses. I am sure you will learn new things which are going to be useful to us all.

  5. Deb from Boston says:

    Wow – you should really be proud of LMG!
    We’ve been reading a lot about plastics and food containers (see article and related link regarding Bisphenol-A in food storage. I’m currently looking for alternatives for food storage and figure it will take awhile to get rid of all the plasticware containers to shift over to glass and stainless steel. Much to my frustration, our favorate yogarts come in #6 plastic cups – which is listed on the avoid list.

  6. Well, you know you should have been making yogurt all along. (hee-hee)

    Good luck with this!

  7. Layla says:

    Ooh!! She’s SOO ADORABLE!! :))

    Well, in the summer we make our own ‘sour milk’, we get milk from a farmer directly.. and a nice walk along it! 🙂 Not sure if that’s doable where you live…?
    I’m considering trying to make kefir (the ‘yoghurt apparatus’ wasn’t very popular here either..) – I read cold milk is okay for making it.. 🙂

    & are tetrapaks really recycled where you live? Did you check? (not just collected & dumped somewhere, like China..?)
    what are they made of? how environmentally friendly is the process of making & recycling them?
    these are some things I would think about, & research.. Personally, I’m anti-tetrapak.. & think even plastics as such may be more easily recyclable.. (?) if they do get recycled that is..
    “to generate energy” I assume means ‘waste to energy’ which I assume means incinerators! 🙂
    /there is a reason this is hidden behind a very small & almost unnoticable link..!!/
    That site seems like a lot of greenwashing to me, sorry!! 🙂
    Okay, it’s better than landfilling or burning it alltogether, but still-!!
    It would be interesting to know of any emissions or ‘by-products’ of the process.. but haven’t seen that info on the site..

    You’re lucky to even have toilet paper that comes wrapped in paper – here we don’t get any such!

    I wonder if plastic bags & foils are really recycled though (or just ‘waste to energi-ed’? :))

    Good luck with the challenge!! 🙂 & YES, she truly IS an inspiration to us all!! 🙂

  8. Sal says:

    In response to the tetra pak issue, a few years ago I looked into it and was told via a friend who works within paper science that the reason for so few tetrapak recycling facilities was that there were only 2 uk paper mills that can deal with, it requires spliting the plastic content from the paper. The reason for the decline in paper mills doing this was due to the huge increase in energy costs.
    In our area the council take quite alot of recycling kerbside but not tetra so i travel a mile or so to put it in a specific recycling bin.

  9. Mr. Green says:

    Sal that interesting about tetra paks. In our region we have a few tetra pak collection points, but 6 miles away in a large town there is nothing at all to recycle them. This seems very odd as they are adjacent local authorities. I think much of the problem is due to how each local council decides on how to spend their money and that in turn depends on what will win votes in the elections.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    Jen, you’re right; sometimes we have to look at ‘cost’ in the broader sense such as the cost to the environment if we buy things in plastic……..

    Shannon, that book is on my wishlist 🙂 I think you are right; but I just don’t see a way to go totally plastic free in our culture. I think I could do it if I lived on my own perhaps, but with a family I’m not prepared to force anyone to make ‘sacrifices’; especially not a child. Essentially though; I totally agree with what you are saying. As Russell says, we have to think about the oil consumption……..

    Kris, your comment was lovely – thank you.
    To you and Russell – We have now had another ‘family conference’ and gone through some ways in which plastic is in our lives. Of course, as a seven year old, LMG did not quite realise the impact of what she was saying when she made her broadcast! We spoke for a good couple of hours on the subject; planned our Christmas lunch, talked about areas in which there would be plastic and then LMG got upset and suggested we forget the idea completely. So we are still ‘in discussion’ about it all. I think she suddenly felt overwhelmed and dis empowered, so we’re working on reversing that and seeing where we can reach a compromise. We’ll be posting things up as we work things out 🙂
    But I’m proud of her for even suggesting or thinking about the idea.

    Deb, we are proud! The stuff about Bisphenol A is very concerning and Mr Green showed me a report yesterday about how they reckon obesity is bringing early puberty on in girls. Personally I think that is only a fraction of the problem and we’ll see in time that plastic is linked to it as well. Good luck with the change over to glass and stainless steel. I must admit, we still use plastic for storage of items.

    Thank you Kristen – oh you are so hard on me 😀

    Layla, we have no local milk, but I might look into it and see what I can find out. I’d much rather buy raw milk anyway, if at all possible.
    Regarding tetrapaks; they aren’t collected from the kerbside, but we have local collection banks which contain only tetrapaks. As to what happens, I know there is not a plant in the UK for recycling, but they end up in Europe somewhere (to my knowledge). Now you have opened a can of worms for me to stick my nose into – I wonder how much ‘truthful’ information you can ever get tbh, unless you work for the company and are in the know.
    There is just ONE brand of toilet paper wrapped in paper to my knowledge; all other brands are in polythene 🙁

  11. Layla says:

    lol I was really curious about the tetrapaks before, cause a friend of mine who is a biologist, said the pro-incinerator movement says that recycling some things is so bad that it’s less toxic to burn ’em! (with proper filters etc.)! & she or others mentioned tetrapaks & glossy papers & such I think..
    Of course, I was really curious when I saw it mentioned on your site that they’re collected & recycled in UK, & then we got nifty brochures home where they were cited under ‘recyclables’ too.. so this really got me wondering..

    I agree definitely more research is needed into that!! 🙂

    Glad you’re intrigued enough to research it a bit too!! 🙂

    As for Little Miss Green, tell her she’s inspiring people all over the world!! with what she posted..
    I’m from Slovenia, & an Italian guy just posted on my blog how cute she is!! 🙂 …

    So, little by little, people can get inspired.. & if everyone just cuts their waste down by half, or even 10% only.. a lot of plastic can be avoided..

    Maybe you guys can make a list of all plastic that comes into question.. & then brainstorm on items one by one.. & celebrate each tiny item!!
    & also, make sure to have a list of all you’ve already done, maybe in a pretty eco-notebook, or a visible list.. so she can be proud of all accomplishments so far!!
    You’ve already done so much!! & inspiring people everywhere with this blog!!

    I’d stick with her initial idea to avoid landfill & iffy stuff in the air.. So non-recyclables would be ‘high priority’ & recyclables maybe a lower priority so far..?
    There are lots of creative gift-wrapping & decoration ideas online etc.
    I guess the food wrappings would be hardest.. at least here, as we don’t have a farmer’s market really.. supermarkets double-wrapped everything, aargh!! & we’re the countryside!! aargh!!
    As for toilet paper, only a really bad old-fashioned brand used to be in paper here.. & nobody wants it.. not sure if it even exists..

    I wonder if there is a consumer group where one could ask for or demand such items..? Maybe even EU-wide..? I know there were some consumer groups as to what to avoid, fair-trade wise etc. Not sure if there are any zero-waste-wise…? & is there a way to lobby for tax breaks for zero waste stuff? 🙂 so they could be cheaper, & we could all afford them!! 🙂
    just curious…

    Anyway, great work so far, keep up with it!! 🙂 This website makes me hopeful about the future of our planet… 🙂

  12. I’ve solved the toilet paper for you; invest in a bidet. There are some inexpensive ones available now. You can still pat dry but with something washable. Speaking of which, must get mine installed!!!

  13. Mrs Green says:

    Layla, something we believe very strongly here is that everyone doing their bit can add up to a lot of significant change. As you say, if everyone reduces their waste by just 10%, then that will have a big global impact. It helps to keep that in mind when you’re having a ‘my bit doesn’t make any difference’ moment.
    I love your ideas for listing the plastics, LMG is big into lists, so this will help her enormously; plus it’s easy to see where you are making progress and where there is still room for change.
    We are planning on building up a resource of the things we find that are zero waste, but at the moment all of that information is scattered around the site; which isn’t particularly helpful of course.
    You mention your blog – do you have an address for it?

    Thinking Woman, I really would love a bidet – I’ve been talking about one for months. Not sure how it adds up on the environmental front when you weigh up packaging and paper vs water, but I really like the idea. Let me know how you find yours and if you like using it.

  14. Wendy says:

    For the milk, you could go with the powdered option(cardboard & paper packaging). I have been doing this for the past year, and have yet to have any spoil. We only make milk now when we need it.

  15. My word – how could I have missed this…This is big news! Go Little Miss Green…Go Girl. kids are great aren’t they. And I am in full admiration for you grabbing at it with both hands. Love the idea of the bidet 😀

  16. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Wendy, thank you for your comment. What sort of lid do these containers have? And can you buy organic? It certainly is a good idea regarding lack of food waste. How do you find the taste compares to fresh?

    Mrs A – Hmmmm, I think now we have discussed things and figured out exactly what this means, LMG is rather off the idea. We’ll see though; I definiately think we will be up for a reduced plastic Christmas, and I’ll be pleased with that as progress for our first year 🙂

  17. Wendy says:

    Mrs. Green, The powdered milk comes in [quart size] paper envelopes which are packaged together in a small cardboard box. Once mixed-up, our family finds no taste difference whatsoever. Also, the powdered milk is handy to have around for recipes, and what not. As such, you’re likely to find powdered milk available in the baking section of you grocery store. My store in New York(US) sells Carnation band and another off-brand. We save money and waste less, because we only make the milk when we need it, and there are less trips to the store. Wendy PS: I havn’t seen an organic version in my local supermarket, but I will check with the local health food store; they seem to have a solution for everything!

  18. Mrs Green says:

    Thanks Wendy; I didn’t realise you were across the pond. Over here I have only seen to date a big cardboard / foil container with a plastic lid. But, tbh I have never really look for powdered milk as I seldom use it. Trying my health food shop for an organic alternative would be a great idea and thinking about it; I’m sure I’ve seen powdered goats milk, which is what I tend to give LMG anyway, as she’s not that good on a lot of cows milk. Excellent. Actually, they even sell almond milk in this way, which is even better!
    Oooo, now I’m all fired up to see what I can get hold of! It’s great as well, as powdered milk is used in a lot of the recipes from a war era recipe book I’m currently using; so would make a useful cupboard ingredient 🙂

Leave a Reply