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The etiquette of the non-plastic tea run

  • Chris Jeavans
  • 1 Aug 08, 11:02 AM GMT

I clunked and clanged my way to work today, weighed down by a bag (reusable of course) containing a sandwich tin, an aluminium water bottle and enamelled camping cup.

tea cupsThe novelty of preparing my lunch the night before is bound to wear off - I'm a far from organised person ordinarily - but maybe having a few spare quid at the end of the week will make it feel worth it.

But even before midday, going plastic-free has thrown up its first conundrum - what to do about the office tea run? Can I accept colleagues' offers of a hot beverage, knowing that it would be in a polystyrene cup from the tea bar?
Obviously not, as my rules state I cannot buy or accept anything packaged in plastic.

But equally this means I can't buy a round either. What to do? Well for today, I will just have to hope that a day of stinginess won't make me a pariah; and as of next week I will be bringing in mugs, teabags and a kettle. Radical.

Goodbye plastic (for now)

  • Chris Jeavans
  • 1 Aug 08, 09:44 AM GMT

I am starting an experiment to see if it's possible to give up plastic for a month. By "give up" I mean not buying anything containing plastic or wrapped in plastic.

Pile of plasticSo no more water bottles, take-away coffees or pre-packed sandwiches. No quick trips to the corner shop for a pack of chicken and some yoghurts for dinner. And I'll be switching to reusable nappies for my toddler.

I will, however, be able to keep the plastic I already own but even so it is going to be very difficult.

Synthetic plastics have been around for a century and widely used for just 50 years but in that time they have become integral to our modern lifestyles.

But despite plastic's usefulness, we also throw it away in huge amounts. Most of the UK's plastic waste ends up in landfill where it will take hundreds of years to break down.

Environmentalists and cash-conscious councils who have to pay for landfill are calling for consumers to reduce their use of plastic where possible.

I will be seeing what happens if I try to take that to the extreme.

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