At the end of May I decided to enrol on  the Marine Conservation Society's plastic challenge. 8 million tons of plastic ends up in our oceans each year and it only breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, never disappearing completely. With that in mind it seemed reasonable that I could at least try to live plastic free for 30 days....


The best greengrocer in all of Hackney!

I gave myself two rules: if I already owned it, I could continue to use it, and if someone else bought something for me which was packaged in plastic I could still eat/use it. It seemed crazy to discard something for the sake of it! With that in mind I cracked on - and here are 10 things I learned:


1. By and large, cutting out plastic forced me to eat healthier: I bought no crisps, and pretty much the only chocolate that doesn't come in plastic is Rolos. Or a large bar of Green and Blacks 😉

2. And on a similar theme, the best plastic free hangover cure seems to be a pizza. Shout out to Well Street Pizza for helping me out on a couple of occasions. Although I'm not sure I could do without curry forever so i'll be finding out if i can send the plastic tubs back for reuse the next time I order...

3. Going plastic free also meant shopping locally. I'm a big fan of my local greengrocers, Mircey, who sell pretty much everything lose. Even spinach.

4. If you don't have a local greengrocers, you can get away with taking your own paper bags and using them in Tesco for the lose items (veg and also bakery items). When challenged, I told the assistant that I wanted the items but didn't want the plastic. Top tip though - make sure you put only one type of item in each paper bag. Whoops.

5. Bulk stores are big news right now however there's not one near me. But if/when one pops up (surely only a matter of time), I'll be taking my own container. I'm also going to try this at my local fishmonger instead of buying supermarket fish in plastic. I don't eat meat, but i'm sure it would be possible at the butcher's too.  Check if there's a bulk store near you here.

6. And on the subject of speaking up, ask ask ask! When I told people I was on the challenge they were more than happy to help me, from friends I was meeting for a picnic, to cafes who could advise which items came in plastic and which were made fresh on the premises.

7. Straws are everywhere. They come automatically - I have to get into the habit of requesting no straw when I order, or refusing them at the bar before they're automatically stuck in my drink.

8. A few months ago I bought new Ecover products (laundry liquid, washing up liquid etc) and now I get them refilled by the lovely George at The Wholemeal Shop on Well Street. Find out where you can refill yours here.

9. Having your own bottle, cup and cutlery on you is really helpful when you're out and about. Often you can get lunch options that come in cardboard or paper bags etc, but the cutlery is still plastic! I love my Keepcup and camping spork/spoon set!

10. None of my toiletries ran out during the month but when they do I'll be trying these amazing tips from Lauren Singer of Trash is for Tossers...

If you want to reduce plastic on your shoot, have a look at our Five Easy Things page, which will guide you through getting rid of plastic bottles and correx. You can also insist your caterers ditch plastic cups, plastic cutlery and straws. Until next year's challenge...