Did you take part in ‘The Big Plastic Count‘ ? I did…

Organised by Greenpeace for schools and households to participate in, just for a week you count the plastics you use and either bin or recycle.

Well, I thought, I really don’t use much plastic. Always trying to re-use and recycle and avoiding clingfilm in the home like the plague.

It turned out to be a very thought provoking exercise…….

(Audio file intro above, if you want to hear my voice!)

What’s It’s Purpose?

The idea is to build up real evidence about our plastic waste. What is actually generated and in which categories so that this data can be presented to both the relevant ministers, supermarkets and big brands in the hope that it will push towards the phasing out of plastic use wherever possible. Wouldn’t it be amazing not even have to recycle that plastic – I always worry where its ending up and of course, how much of that plastic I am ingesting with the food its wrapping! It’s interesting, my husband is in his late 70’s and remembers when plastics were introduced and hailed a game changer that would have a positive effect on our lives. Hmm…

What Did You Have to Do?

Simple registration and a digital pack which consisted of an easy to understand two pager, one a ‘how-to’ guide and the second a tally sheet for recording. Good descriptions of what to count and not to count, and I liked that they had split the food and drink, from the toiletries and cleaning, and then everything else.

Counting week was 11th – 17th March 2024 – though you could adapt this to suit your ‘week’. For me we had a few days away, but I continued the count once home, making sure I did it for 7 days. Your results are simply uploaded on the web to link provided with a deadline of 31st March 2024.

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You can’t change what you don’t measure

I don’t actually know who said that, but we use it a lot at home – mainly around keeping our weight in check and discussions with friends who don’t have bathroom scales! But it applies to so many things and this plastics count is a great example.

Recycling is a must in our household, and I am always surprised each week how full our recycling bin is, but have always had the impression that most of it is cardboard!

Well this was a real shock for me. We had A LOT more plastic containers and wrappers from fruit and vegetables and pots, tubs and trays like yoghurt, meat etc than I expected.

So here is my tally sheet showing the results for a week’s worth of plastic – by the way, we are a household of two and I mainly cook everything from fresh ingredients i.e. eating a ready prepared meal is occasional BUT we do eat a lot of fruit and particularly vegetables.

One point to note, the How-To guide does mention that once you start this exercise you might feel much of this plastics issue is your fault! Obviously that’s not necessarily the case, in that the supermarkets and brands, backed by governments, need to provide alternatives that are still affordable and accessible to everyone and that isn’t plastic.

My Conclusion: Now is the time to move over to fruit and vegetable boxes for me. That should eliminate some of the plastic wrappers and bags that I experienced this week. As an online grocery shopper unwrapped fruit and veg isn’t an option. Once a month there is a food market not too far away and starting soon for the summer, so that will be on my list to visit. Also, I grow some vegetables in my small garden and greenhouse, at least Tomatoes, Aubergines, Cucumbers and peppers – looking forward to those, and plastic free. For items such as olives and sun-dried tomatoes etc, I need to be more choosy about the containers, perhaps looking for versions in glass jars. Already using refillable non-chemical based cleaning items from Bio-D. Will check out if there are any ‘refillable’ shops in the near vicinity too. Anyone have any other good ideas?

Individual counts have to be in submitted before 31st March, with some results to follow. Look out for the next post when I will report back the findings.