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Saturday, 28 February 2015

The plastic challenge two months in

We are now two months in to our plastic challenge and I think we can now say that we are getting in to the swing of things.

There are some things, that I don't think we can avoid, but even with such things we are finding ways to lessen the plastic packaging just by doing things slightly differently.

At the end of January, I had to buy more cat food and so returning to Countrywide to purchase their own make cat food again, I found them out of stock of the 2.5kg bags, but they did have 10kg bags.  I checked the ingredients against the photo I had taken on my phone and found them to be the same, but first I had to solve the problem of how to store this much larger quantity for a much longer time.  Countrywide couldn't help with that, but Poundstretcher sell a 'Pet Pantry' at a cost of £14.99 which seems to do the trick.  Even with the expense of the pet pantry it was a lot cheaper buying it in bulk. I'm hoping the pet pantry keeps the food fresh for long enough.

Smarty is checking out the new cat food
One of the most annoying things we're finding is that some shops charge more for unpackaged veg than for packed veg.  That seems totally wrong, to me. We haven't really been monitoring the price differences up to now, just getting annoyed by them.  But, I'm planning to monitor them carefully from now on to build up an accurate picture of who is doing this, when and where.

Today's challenge is a fundraising event in our village - the cricket club quiz - which involves bulk buying beer and wine and we usually serve various low budget salty snacks at each table.  The snacks will look a little different this year as we'll be serving Bombay mix, peanuts, giant corn and Japanese rice crackers all of which I've bought in  bulk in my own containers at Whole Foods Market on my way past earlier this week.  We were worried that the beer would be a plastic problem.  At Booker, we compared the price of crates of cans of beer which are wrapped in plastic with the crates of bottled beer wrapped in cardboard and the price of the cans was much cheaper.  We looked at the possibility of barrels of beer but we don't have enough people drinking it to warrant a barrel of bitter plus a barrel of lager plus a barrel of cider and once these are started, my understanding is that they have limited shelf life. On the other hand, we always just keep any left over cans to sell at the next event.  However, we checked out Sainsbury's and found that their cardboard wrapped cans were on a par with the plastic wrapped crates at Booker so we managed to purchase everything plastic free.

We've been asked to provide dips and crudités for Junior Daughter and at first she seemed reluctant for me to do this with her or for her 'because of the whole plastic thing', but I persuaded her that home made dips would be a lot nicer than shop bought dips and she agreed.  I wanted to buy a cucumber and some celery along with peppers and carrots, but as we were timing our trip into town to pick up glasses for the Quiz night (you can borrow glasses from Waitrose free of charge) I didn't manage to get to the market in time.  Waitrose and Saisnbury's only had wrapped celery and wrapped cucumber, so I took the decision to just buy peppers and carrots.  I pointed out that these were always the favourites anyway, so Junior Daughter didn't seem to mind.

All in all our plastic purchases are minimal, but we have still generated lots of plastic packaging from things we already had in the house.

Two months worth of plastic packaging

Never-the-less, it certainly makes a mountain of difference.  I'm pretty sure I used to put out this much plastic every week.