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Thursday, 31 December 2015

A year without plastic

Well we have completed our strange experiment. We have tried and failed of course to manage a whole year without purchasing anything packaged in single use plastic.

We did try quite hard most of the time, but this has certainly been the hardest eco challenge that I have attempted so far. It was bound to be hard. The challenges I've undertaken so far, like a year of buying only second hand clothes, a year of not buying new books, are things that only affect me. It has been up to me and me only to succeed or fail. I like a challenge so I have found it fairly easy to stick to my decisions. This year, though, my challenge has affected my whole family, my guests, my pets even. Now that's a lot harder. But it hasn't been a complete fail.

First of all here's the sum total of our single use plastic for the year.

I tried to get Smarty the Cat to stand in front of the bag to show the scale of our year of plastic, but he wouldn't oblige for long enough for me to snap a picture of him with the bag. He is nearly as tall as the bag.   Does that help give an idea?

All of this plastic is squashed inside a 2.5kg bag of cat food (almost).  When I chose this challenge, I decided that I wasn't going to go anything like as far as trying to make my own cat food.  So I found these clear bags of cat food at Countrywide.  They have been a success with the cats, and this was the first bag of the year, when I found that they also did 10kg sacks. However, I didn't want to find that the cats didn't like it, so I tried the small bag first. We then swapped to buying 10kg sacks which are not squashed inside this bag, because they are being re-deployed for various purposes like storing wood chippings, kindling etc.  So, that way, they are exempt from the single use plastic.

I can't decide whether this looks like a lot of plastic or a little, because I didn't really ever measure the amount of plastic we got through before, and I had already tried to cut out any non-recyclable plastic.  So how does it compare to plastic in a 'normal' household, I wonder?

There's something else missing from this bag too.  Quite a lot of other plastic that I didn't stock up, as I was trying to concentrate mainly on my own shopping habits rather than other people's habits, and the less I used plastic, the more I noticed how much plastic was brought into the house brother people.  If anyone bought something wrapped in plastic, I put it into another plastic bag and sent it out with my weekly recycling (most plastic in West Oxfordshire is recycled).  I think I've put out plastic recycling from other people maybe six to eight times this year as it has taken that long to fill a bag to a reasonable amount to put it out.

Before I commit this little bag of plastic to the recycling I'm going to have a good think about what has been good and what has been not so good about our year without single use plastic (nearly). But that's for another day I think.  Today I'm just going to say that it is done and my family can no doubt heave their sighs of relief, at least for a bit, until I decide how many of the new plastic free habits are going to remain in the Pitt household.  I dare say some of them will be willingly accepted, but not all of them.  I can't remember how far through the year the term 'illegals' became a Pitt family thing - as in "Sorry, Mum, I've brought illegals".  Over the next few weeks, I will tell all, maybe!

In the meantime, Happy New Year!

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