Monday, 2 May 2011

Belated Lent Update

MASS MASS MASS apologies for having neglected this blog for a month!!!!  I have recently taken a new job which requires me to commute to London and have just been settling in.  So to all of you who have been following my plastic free progress, I hope you can accept my apologies and that you will enjoy my Lent synopsis.

Yorkshire Tea:
I would like to start this update where I started this blog, with the issue of Yorkshire Tea.  I went for three weeks without a cup of Yorkshire tea because the card boxes are wrapped in cellophane!!  It was torture.  A cup of Yorkshire tea on a morning and after work are two of my daily pleasures and other teas just don't rate.  I have been sipping Biodynamic Peppermint and Chamomile tea instead, both utterly delicious, but they just don't hit that caffinated, sweet and milky tea spot. 
Action:  Write to Taylors of Harrogate asking them why they use plastic wrapping, whether they could stop using it and whether they could send me a big plastic free supply, to keep me going until they find a solution.

Meat and Dairy:
I/We didn't manage to consume plastic free meat and dairy products, as I found that I didn't make the time to go and buy cheese from the market and didn't have the motivation to go to the butchers for Liam, although we rarely have meat in the house anyway.
Action:  Build a weekly trip to the market for plastic free bread and cheese, into my weekly routine.

Abel & Cole:
I have been disappointed on a number of occasions when in our veg box from Abel & Cole salads and greens have come wrapped in plastic.
Action:  Do not buy those products from Abel & Cole which do come in plastic packaging and write to them to inform them of your decision, whilst suggesting alternatives that they might implement.  Could salads come in the fridge boxes, in card boxes so that they don't get bashed yet stay cool? 

We continued to buy margarine and butter in plastic tubs but have washed and saved each container for use at a later date.  Any plastic bottles that we have ended up with, such as the containers for cleaning and washing products we have also washed and saved.  This has lead to a rather amusing storage problem; we are collecting far more plastic containers than we can find uses for and so we now have a mountain of plastic hiding (and now spilling out from) behind the sofa!!!
Action 1:  Identify which plastic packages you acquire most often and re-source the product.  Once resourced find the next offender. 
Action 2:  Brainstorm objects/ items that you would like for the home or garden that could be constructed from the plastic collection.  Eg. Gutter for shed and plastic bottle green house.

Emergencies:  I have also experienced a couple of sugar dip emergencies.  One when I accompanied Liam to hospital for his finger x-ray after he got it stuck in his car door (the car actually has a dent in it, OUCH!).  Just as the nurse was finished strapping Liam's finger up, I almost fainted so we had to quickly get me something to eat.  My options were;  a) chocolate (in plastic), b) crisps (in plastic) or c) soft drinks (in plastic)!!!  I went for chocolate and crisps. : (  I find it very strange that the refreshment services in hospital waiting rooms are always chocolate and crisp vending machines, but that's another matter.  Similarly I have found myself on the London underground getting over heated and hypoglycemic and having to rush to the nearest bit of sugar, unavoidably wrapped in plastic. 
Action:  Eat more regularly and always have some homemade biscuits, or similar, in my bag, for such moments.

Full time work and THE COMMUTE:
Three weeks ago I started the first ever traineeship in the Sustainability of Heritage, based at the Garden Museum, Lambeth, London.  Please watch out for my blog 'Sustaining Heritage' to find out all about it and follow my sustainability journey.  My life has changed from part time work, just a 15 minute cycle from my home, to full time work a 2 hour journey from my home.  Before you can say anything, I am perfectly aware that my new job is less sustainable in terms of travel and time, but it is much more personally sustainable in keeping me challenged, mentally stimulated and its a step onto my career ladder.  It was just a week ago, when I realised why it was that I had found the plastic packaging abstinence relatively easy.  I had plenty of time on my hands and would cycle past several independent retailers, giving me plenty of choice in which products I choose to purchase.  Now I have, on average, an 11 hour day, during which I travel on train and the London underground (although I have just signed up for my Boris Bike), leaving me very little opportunity and energy to purchase consciously and prepare meals from scratch.

However I am not defeated, in fact I am even more motivated to eradicate plastic from my life.  My personal challenge is now more relative to the rest of society who work full time, commute and has a family to look after.  I am in a position where I can produce a realistic, tried and tested, frame work for people who have similar concerns, to adopt.

But the removal of plastic from a society and a world, that 100% relies on the production of fossil fuels, is no easy feat.  It requires a gentle and steady lifestyle change but as dramatic as a caterpillar breaking free from its cocoon and spreading out its brilliant dusted wings to partake a new role in the world.  A role where people stop to watch with amazement and follow the trail of those glorious beating wings. 

Step by step, beat by beat, we can make that transition.

I will now take a step by step approach to removing plastic from my life, with small challenges and targets to reach on a fortnightly or monthly basis.  Join in if you wish, and let me know what challenges you face on the way and to what degree you achieved each step.

I have been very grateful for all your comments and suggestions and hope that you continue to contribute to this undeniably difficult challenge.

I shall start by writing to both Taylors of Harrogate and Abel & Cole about their use of plastic packaging.  I will let you know when I receive a response.

Love and hugs,