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.


  • Comment number 1.

    Certainly sounds like a challenge.
    Best of luck Chris!

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm looking around at my bought sandwich, crisps, chocolate flapjack and smootie drink and can't help thinking you put me to shame!

    Best of luck with it, I can't wait to see how you get on!

  • Comment number 3.

    isnt it upto manufacturers and global multi-nationals to provide alternative packaging methods rather than us do without because of the packaging?

    our Earth is so precious and yet in the shortest space of time it is our recent civilisation that has done the most damage and harm to the planet.

    i wish you well in your endeavours but its gonna take an army of boycotters to make any manufacturer really think to change its ways.

  • Comment number 4.

    A link that will be useful for you...

    -sigg lunch boxes
    -sigg water bottles (even for toddlers)
    -reuseable cloth veggie and fruit bags

  • Comment number 5.

    Well, Your either bonkers or bored with life! What ever, I wish you the best of luck. Almost everything that is classed as essential is wrapped in some type of plastic. What about that time of the month or are you lucky like me and not have to worry about that. I can understand using what you have, with shops like the body shop where you can refill for your smellies that will be good. I take my pack lunch to work in brown wrapping paper and if I am lucky I use the same piece for about three days. Buy brown paper by the roll it has a number of uses. washing powder that has the little plastic measure don't forget them. God the list is endless I could go on forever. I shall be watching this blog right the way through. Hope to chat with you sometime.Good Luck.

  • Comment number 6.

    Persistence will be required to convince shop/store staff that your insistence on removing plastic is a valid activity. They love the convenience of plastic and diplomacy on your part will be essential.

    A related issue is Junk Mail, and its plastic content. Return To Sender is a good response where franked envelopes can be returned with a note asking to remove your name from the company list.

    You have a great vehicle to help change the current wasteful situation.


  • Comment number 7.

    Hey 'mudbounder' those sigg water bottles are a really good way of stopping yourself using plastic bottles. Radiohead are selling Sigg Bottles at their gigs I got one and haven't used a plastic bottle since.

  • Comment number 8.

    In reply to fuzzypostie, there are reusable sanitary products just as there are reusable nappies :-) The Mooncup is an example, does siilicon count as plastic? Hmm actually does PUL for reusable nappies count too, or are you using lanolised wool Chris? What about polyester fleece? Or are you doing 'late starter' ec-ing??

    Don't Sigg bottles have a plastic top?

  • Comment number 9.

    Good on you! and although I suspect that I'll struggle to eliminate plastic from my life, I'll certainly try to follow your example (and your blog).
    For nearly two years now I have been running what, at least at first, felt like a one-man campaign against plastic bags in Deptford (SE London). The local shopkeepers now all know better than to offer me a plastic bag; and I'm delighted to say that cotton bags are an increasingly familiar sight on Deptford High Street. Indeed, Lewisham Council have actually produced cotton bags bearing the slogam 'Shop Local in Deptford/Lewisham/Forest Hill/etc. I'd take their green commitment more seriously if they gave these bags away rather than charging 2GBP, but I suppose it's a start...

  • Comment number 10.

    I hope you don't get sick - I can't even think of any pharmaceuticals that are not packaged in plastic.

  • Comment number 11.

    Homeopathic remedies are usually packaged in glass bottles or foil sachets :-)

  • Comment number 12.

    Medical plastic isn't really the point though. I don't think anyone's arguing about the use of plastic in medicine. It's the everyday plastics that build up and can be reduced without really affecting our lives that much that are the most important to reduce first. Think this is a great idea - obviously not likely to change corporations or governments but just as an experiment to make a point and make people think.

    Also - this is not really the place for a debate about homeopathy efficacy but any serious illness should be treated via you GP rather than using homeopathy

  • Comment number 13.

    If it's that serious perhaps it should be via a specialist unit in hospital rather than a GP? And isn't it the place to suggest the use of a system that uses minimal and mostly sustainable resources, including plastic (though I have just remembered the plastic lids on the glass bottles *sigh* it's everywere, isn't it?) over one that uses vast quantities of synthetic materials? I won't enter into a debate over efficacy mind you, obviously you don't think it works so there would be little point. More open-minded people might be interested though.

    Anyway, back to the point... looks like a useful thing, as long as silicone is allowed!

  • Comment number 14.

    i think bringing mugs, kettle and tea bags in is a great idea! who doesn't have a ton of extra, unused ceramic mugs hanging around in their cupboard!

  • Comment number 15.

    and the best of luck to you, you are going to need it. I have just looked around my kitchen and nearly everything has plastic around it. I didn't realize just how much i am using, even the veg that's loose you are given a plastic bag to put it in.

  • Comment number 16.

    You know, in a bizarre way, you could actually view plastic in landfill as a kind of carbon sequestration ...

  • Comment number 17.

    Best of luck, i have tried to reduce my use of plastic for several years now and i still catch myself needing it at times.

    One month is not long enough, i say go for a year, then its not a novelty for being without, its a lifestyle and habit change.

    And honesty- thanks, the world wants changes. The more people that go public showing what its like to do change, the more our world will develop the means to be better than we are.

    its like your making salt to change and empire.

  • Comment number 18.

    Good luck, I'd love to try what you're doing. Where exactly are you getting your food from?

    Remember, anything out of cans is a no-no too. Most are lined with plastic these days.

  • Comment number 19.

    i hope you can make it !!!!

  • Comment number 20.

    You have to be joking!! This is such drivel - where did you find a plastic free computer to write the blog? A plastic free home to live in. Plastic free wiring to get your electricity?? Please do something intelligent rather than continue to drag the BBC's name even further into ridicule

  • Comment number 21.

    Thank you for trying this. Plastic has become insidious--it lasts and lasts in our environment. We need to take a step back. Petroleum products--no thanks. Good luck and it will be fun to see how it goes. It will be tough, but you're doing this for us all. Thanks.

  • Comment number 22.

    I think Chris is doing a very admirable thing, by trying to take a count of how much plastic we actually use in our daily lifes.
    I am afraid she will find it a lot more difficult then she thought.
    Plastic is a fantastic product that would be very hard to do without out, thinking of the keyboard I am using now, but we have to stop this mindless miss use that fills our land fills and pollutes our seas!
    Good Luck!

  • Comment number 23.

    Hey, it's the Max Gogarty of environmentalism!

  • Comment number 24.

    Well done Chris, this is a great inspiration to all of us. We are also reducing household waste to the landfill and confirm that plastic is the hardest item to deal with. There are however, many things you can do, that begin with carefull choices when you buy and end with knowing where to go to dispose of plastics responsibly so that they can be recycled. We have collected a lot of very useful information on our own blog Do stop by, we are happy to support you and share our experiences.

    (to the moderator. I have not incluced the http in our blog address, as I know you don't allow links. I hope this is ok, thanks)

  • Comment number 25.

    Good luck Chris! What are you going to do about the rubbish that needs to go in the bin? Will you use 'cornstarch' rubbish bags? I can remember as a child smelly metal bins with rubbish wrapped in a bit of newspaper. I'm now down to one little bag of rubbish a week, but it is wrapped up in a carrier bag :(

  • Comment number 26.

    This is a marvelous initiative and very worthwhile project. Good for you Chris.
    I have sent the article to many friends around the world who are also concerned about the 'too-much-plastic' lives we lead. This could be the start of making some real changes in our lives.

    I'm going to try to do a similar non-plastic exercise with you during August. I went to the supermarket today with 'plastic in mind'. I was appalled to see how much plastic there is with everything. The 'shock awareness' is that all toilet paper is wrapped in plastic!

  • Comment number 27.

    how do we purchase milk out of plastic bottles as we have no milkman locally and are not close enough to any farms.

  • Comment number 28.

    Having recently moved to the US on a temporary assignment, the amount of packaging for products one encounters everywhere drives us both bonkers. However I will admit that NY is better than London for recycling of glass, plastic bottles and paper etc.

    I think that 1 month is definitely too short as you can survive on things already purchased for a while. eg tea bags come in sealed packets, cordials etc. To be realistic you need to do it for 12 months so that you will have to encounter real problems - what happens when an essential electrical appliance stops working (computer, fridge, tv...)

    You will have reduced your waste and I am sure you are recycling all your paper, but you will still have some household waste. One of my first thoughts is how are you getting rid of it if you can't use rubbish bags?

  • Comment number 29.

    Good luck Chris, but I fear your attempts to cut back are never going to amount to more than a drop in a (plastic) bucket.
    When my local council first started collecting rubbish for recycling it was all put out on the pavement in carrier bags. The contents were emptied and the bags tossed into another section on the truck. Since they provided recycling boxes (green plastic, of course) and contracted out the collection it's all tossed in together and separating it by using plastic bags is no longer permitted, with dire warnings about non-collection if you transgress.
    The result is that small paper items blow out of the boxes and all round the neighbourhood during the fortnight before each collection. Anything that gets dropped by the operatives actually during collection is ignored until a resident picks it up and puts it in the box again in the vain hope it might eventually get disposed of as promised.
    And if it rains, of course, the whole lot gets sodden and stuck together with lumps remaining in the bottom of the box and great colonies of slugs hiding underneath it. The whole business is disgusting.
    I recently paid almost £400 to get a rat catcher out to my house, which isn't funny when you're a disabled pensioner living alone. I'm fed up with being bullied into living by someone else's dictat which drags me down to the lowest common denominator as far as cleanliness and hygiene are concerned.
    And can someone say why we can't just burn the plastic instead of it flaping around on landfill sites? It reduces to practically nothing and could generate a lot of heat/energy/electricity in the process.
    I'm becoming very discouraged and on the verge of going back to using my bin for absolutely everything - tied up nice and tight in a carrier bag!

  • Comment number 30.

    What a total waste of time! Another gimmick linked to sensational news reporting. Get on with your life and use common sense!

  • Comment number 31.

    In reply to tokyoguru. Quote:"You have to be joking!! This is such drivel - where did you find a plastic free computer to write the blog? A plastic free home to live in. Plastic free wiring to get your electricity?? Please do something intelligent rather than continue to drag the BBC's name even further into ridicule"

    Who is being ridiculous here? The issue is not removing plastic entirely from modern living, but reducing the amount of plastic waste today and for the future. Did you know that a disposable nappy is estimated to take as much as 500 years to biodegrade. Every single one ever produced is therefore still here. Your taxes and costs increase every year for removing these products that manufacturers continue to produce because you continue to buy them. Obviously we do not throw away our computer everyday, and when we buy a piece of furniture, for example, we usually keep it for years, not hours, before disposing of it or recycling it. Tuppaware for example is in most homes and is preferable to cling film. One is thrown away on a daily basis, the other not. Surely a first step is compromise. We no longer buy yogurt in plastic but in returnable glass jars, as we do with milk.

    I think Chris Jeavans and the BBC IS taking an intelligent approach and rather than dragging its name into ridicule, as you suggest, is actually illustrating that perhaps you cannot remain ignorant forever and it is you that is being ridiculous not them. Without this type of reporting, the awareness of such issues and consequent debate would continue to be conveniently ignored.

    Naples in under mountains of waste because, for one reason or another, they have no more landfill left. Is this is the future of modern living or can we all actively do something, anything about it?

  • Comment number 32.

    In response to fabbarryuk. Quote: "What a total waste of time! Another gimmick linked to sensational news reporting. Get on with your life and use common sense!"

    Hardly sensationalism. In fact what Chris is doing IS common sense! It is also in consideration of other lives, present and future, and not just a selfish 'sweep-it-in-under-the-carpet' one, as perhaps you suggest yours is.

    However, I'd hope that Chris continues this attitude to plastic-reduced shopping and not merely for the month.

  • Comment number 33.

    Seen these?

    Buy one plastic bottle and you'll never have to buy another... bit of a conundrum in your situation I guess, but then again you wouldn't have to ever look for water in glass bottles. They may be environmentally friendly, but NOT using them (i.e. not wasting energy and resources in producing, transporting and recycling them) is far better for the environment!

    I've never like plastic much myself, but am intrigued by this one...

  • Comment number 34.

    Hi there.

    I'd just like to add an input to this plastic idea.

    I think that it's commendable what you're doing. However, I saw on TV the other day some "expert" saying about plastic that can and can't be recycled.

    My father and grand-father have been involved with recycling plastic. It's the family business, or was until 5 years ago. It started in the mid 1950's.

    Recycling plastic is very easy and cheap. It's a very easy material to recycle. To make a vinyl floor from old sandwich containers (depending on the plastic), simply wash, heat up to 200 degrees, mould, cool down, new product.

    We were doing this in the 1980's with PVC. Back then it was a big money maker. People pay to have their waste removed. People pay to buy the processed material.

    It's ignorance of plastic that has killed the recycling industry. A few people (800) presented a petition to a sandwich company about 10 years ago about their fears of plasticiser leeching into the food. Overnight they switched from PVC, which can be recycled to ABS, which couldn't.

    I'm probably not making much sense, but it's ignorance of plastic and fake "experts" that have completely killed the plastic recycling industry dead. There's no money in it now, so plastic doesn't get recycled now like it used to or it could be.

  • Comment number 35.

    Keep it up Chris. This is an important experiment.
    Wishing you best regards from Canada

  • Comment number 36.

    I am trying to cut down on my plastic use too as well as reducing my expenditure! My problem is that I buy in bulk from my butcher and cannot find a way to freeze chops, pork belly, portions of bacon etc without using clingfilm. I have tried greaseproof paper, baking parchment, I even resorted to trying foil (my son's school has a recycling scheme), but nothing keeps them from sticking together except the dreaded clingfilm!!
    Have you got any ideas?

  • Comment number 37.

    I worked in the plastics industry in the 60s and into the 70s. For some of that time, I was involved in the development of plastics for the packaging industry. I quit my job in the early 70s largely because I couldn't take the hypocracy involved in the 'oil crisis' and the obvious waste deriving from wrapping EVERYTHING in a plastic film. (Yes, I am aware that the plasics industry uses, for the most part, the dregs from crude oil.) I said at the time that the World would be buried under its own trash....And?

  • Comment number 38.

    What is truly amazing and whilst I believe 100% in the use of plastic and the cause is that the BBC can increase its carbon footprint to send reporters all over the UK to stand outside some building to comment on the incident.

    I am sure we all know that a police office in Leeds or a coverment building in Manchester or outside 10 Downing Street in London is like.

    Do we need reporters travelling to these destinations to stand outside in the rain from a Post Office in Grimsby.

    Where is the commitment to the reduction of our carbon footrints which would be out weights by a few plastic bottles. ??

  • Comment number 39.

    If all the mnufactuters of plastic produced the same plastic recycling would be a lot simpilies.

    Lobby the maunfactureers first to bring all into line before we can start on the trail.

  • Comment number 40.

    This is a great idea, plastic usage has gone way too out of hand. We've just converted to Plastic bottles in Malta, when Glass bottles were better for keeping the gas tight.

    Over packaging is a big issue everywhere, we cannot give up using plastic all together, but we can reduce our plastic consumption by at least 50-60% easily, but this has to come from the corporations.

    Wrapping apples in clingfilm is retarded, having a box bigger than your head to put a Mp3 player the size of your finger is even more retarded.

    This should be a battle against retardedness, not plastic as a whole, but well done!

  • Comment number 41.

    great idea
    a summary at end of your findings and recommendations please

    louiseblogs australia

  • Comment number 42.

    I signed up to this website to make the comment about not being able to use your computer to update your blog. Someone beat me to it. But they take themselves way too seriously. Plonker.

  • Comment number 43.

    My wife and I REUSE every plastic bag we get, and if we didn't get them free, we would have to buy them. We use them for trash, garbage, used kitty litter, and to wrap shoes and dirty clothes when traveling.

    Banning all plastic baqs would cost us money, but it would NOT stop our usage.

  • Comment number 44.

    A stunt displaying a simplistic understanding of the issues. Why is paper/cardboard deemed more green than plastic? At least it highlighted the stupitidy of assuming that tiny changes in behaviour, like buying loose is more environment friendly than buying packaged. Buy local say the environment facists, yes we can all do that tomorrow! This is complicated stuff and cannot be addressed overnight by simple but incorrect assumtions.

  • Comment number 45.

    A noble crusade Chris! It’s definitely one with which you have my total support.

    It just so happened that yesterday I sat with my nephew watching the ‘Doll on a Box’ song from ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’. So, I thought I’d write you some lyrics to this classic tune where you can sing-along. I think it’s best if you go to this link for the tune:

    Anyway, hope it keeps you amused for a little while.

    Good luck in your plastic pursuit. I’ll be watching how you cope!

    What do you see? You creatures - swimming in the sea

    You see a bag on a sandy beach - that’s left there by we

    H D P E - crime! P E T E – crime! Waiting for plas-fish-tic’s first, dish.

    You seem to see, how much we need to be free

    Purging we’ve found on this detox plan, we want to agree



    Pile - crime - no more a mound to be found.


    What do you see? You creatures - swimming in the sea
    (Chrisie fantastic, now you’re deprived of plastic)

    You see a bottle on a sandy beach - that’s left there by we
    (Fantastic as a carrier (bag) beached Bass –Hey!)

    H D P E - crime, P E T E - crime, waiting for plas-fish-tics first, dish
    (When the seas free, Blackpool could be Mauritius, honest Chrisie, you’re the answer to our fish’s)

    You seem to see – how much we need to agree
    (Chrisie fantastic, though some might say - bit drastic!)

    Purging we’ve found on this detox, that we want to be free
    (It may take forever to go away)

    (To me it don’t sound fishy)

    (Because you’re trying Chrisie)

    Test – time – no more a mound to be found
    (Honest, Chrisie, here’s to youuuuu!!)

  • Comment number 46.

    Good on you, and the very best of luck with your campaign!! Please ignore all the nay-sayers who want to shout you down and belittle your effort. It is definitely possible to cut down enormously on household plastic - we're doing it in Belgium, where I live, where recycling is second-nature and legally enforced. I'm always stunned when I come back to the UK at how little recycling is done there.

    All major supermarkets here have recognised the Curse of the Free Plastic Bag and you have to buy strong reusable shopping bags. (Only corner shops give thin bags away, and they usually tear before you get to the car.)
    The paper bag is definitely back, and minimalist cardboard packaging is slowly replacing all that horrible hard plastic usually welded round manufactured goods.

    Two areas where hygiene laws insist on plastic - perishable foods and medicinal capsules and tablets. You can avoid plastics for food (hello to the old-fashioned butcher, grocer, fishmonger, goodbye convenience foods) but maybe keep prescription medicines out of the equation. (Not much weight, there, so not much damage.)

    The worst threats are: thin plastic bags, blister pack wrapping, plastic-wrapped food trays and plastic bottles - please don't go back to any of these in September when your campaign is over.

    Best of luck,

    CW, Brussels, Belgium

  • Comment number 47.

    Buy some new reading glasses, tokyoguru.

    "20. At 00:23am on 02 Aug 2008, tokyoguru wrote:
    You have to be joking!! This is such drivel - where did you find a plastic free computer to write the blog? A plastic free home to live in. Plastic free wiring to get your electricity?? Please do something intelligent rather than continue to drag the BBC's name even further into ridicule"

    The campaign makes it clear that it does not include any plastics already contained in Chris's home. It is to do with stopping bringing any new unnecessary disposable plastics into her home- as you would have seen from the video - where the target waste was spread out on the kitchen counter tops.

    General note to everybody who slams recycling - when this is done properly, it really is big business, and new bikes really do get made out of beercans. If the local authorities make a (deliberate) cock-up of the collection process because they can't be bothered to set the necessary collection process up properly, that's not an argument against recycling, that's a demonstration of poor local governance.

  • Comment number 48.

    I hate to put a downer on this whole thing, but to what extent does your "month without plastic" stretch? You are using a computer to write your blog entries; I am assuming you are using a car/bus/train to travel. All of these contain many plastic parts. In the modern world I think it is impossible to do anything without their being some plastic involved. Computer monitors, keyboards and mice are virtually entirely plastic. Are you taking these things into consideration, or does your "month without plastic" only refer to plastic packaging?

  • Comment number 49.

    Oh gaymatty, another one person who can't think straight.

    Let me explain this to you. The computer is not thrown away after every use. It lasts for many years, and is then recycled.

    A platic bottle, bag or coffee cup is used once then put into landfill.

    Can you see the difference?

    Eventually landfil fills up, and we run out of space.

    Not rocket science, but so many people can't understand it.

  • Comment number 50.

    to 'pink_student'... I buy local-farm-shop-made and frozen burgers with paper between, a good sharp bash on a hard surface (we have granite worktops) and failing that a sharp knife in between usually sorts them out.

  • Comment number 51.

    trying to avoid plastic is a good idea. One thing that never seems to be discussed is the accuracy of the labelling of plastic. Most is labelled recyclable yet local authorities claim it is not as no market exists? Is this not a case for advertising standards . The consumer is stuck between something that claims to be recyclable i.e has the triangular icon, yet isn't

  • Comment number 52.

    I understand the concept completely "moose44", if indeed that is your real name...I am not a complete imbecile as you seem to think. Do you recycle your computers? I have worked my way through many computers in the years I have worked in IT support, and have never recycled any, as you have to pay for the privilage of having someone come and collect and recycle your old computers (I know this as the company I work for has just had to pay over £600 for a recycling company to take away some old computer equipment).

    Maybe there are lots of people that recycle old computers as you say, but there are also lots of people (myself included) that recycle plastic packaging. 100,000 computers will take up much more landfill space than 100,000 styrofoam coffee cups (although as a side note, everywhere I have ordered coffee from in the past couple of years has served it in a cardboard cup).

    My point being, when you have used your plastic bottle/cup etc, you can take it to any town centre or supermarket and put it in a recycling bin, and in some areas the council will collect them. There is no such service offered for computers or other equipment. If you want o recycle them you have to pay someone to do it. There is more plastic in a computer keyboard than in a coffee cup, and I threw 20 old keyboards in the bin last week, as there is no local service that will allow me to recycle them without charging me a fortune. Even charities weren't interested in taking them to use in their offices. That is an extra 20 large pieces of hard plastic unneccesarily chucked into a landfill site. If you know of a company that will take away all my computer equipment for recycling without charging a fortune please let me know, my managers would be very grateful of the savings!

  • Comment number 53.

    You got an article on the home page of the Italian's first newspaper La Repubblica (

    I hope your experiment will inspire people in my country to use less plastic. Today for example orur Supermarkets only sell water in plastic bottles. I find it terrible. We could all drink from glass bottles (if the water from tha faucet is no good, which by the way is not true in Italy) and return the glass to the supermarkets for a discount on the next purchase. I suggested this method also for any other bottle (also glass, or cans ect) last year to the Rome Municipality but I am still waiting for an answer.

    Good luck!

    Martina Battistich
    Rome, Italy

  • Comment number 54.

    Please can you explain how recycling of glass, paper and plastic bottles is so much better in NYC than in London? I've never lived in NYC, I'll admit, but as a keen recycler living in London we can recycle all those materials and more. One London council even picks up recycling three times a week from people's door-step! I'm curious as to how NYC does it better.

  • Comment number 55.

    When I was growing up in Canada, we were indoctrinated with the mantra 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle'.
    I remember packaging being a big issue in the early 90s; groups of school-kids returned unwanted wrappers to the McDonald's staff, everyone was encouraged to buy in bulk, and our class was set the challenge of 'garbage-less lunches'!

    It's always bugged me that the UK seems so far behind in the (alternative) three Rs, particularly the Reduce one as this experiment highlights.

    Best of luck Chris - I really hope you can succeed and hopefully encourage more to do the same.

  • Comment number 56.

    I can see a few "little less inteligent" people here - PLEASE before you post your comment READ the article.
    Comments about "plastic PC" from which is Chris typing are irrelevant as there is clearly stated she can use everything she's already got.

    Now to the topic - It's definitely a good idea and even better experience. Let's be honest - most of us wouldn't do it just because we are lazy to think and too comfortable with our lifestyle full of unwanted waste.

    And a few tips - Don't complain that you can't get loose veg and fruit in supermarkets. If you really want it go to street markets - they put everything in paper bags or in your bag which you can bring with you. And it's CHEAPER!
    Same for milk - don't buy it from supermarkets. It's in plastic and in the end it doesn't even taste like milk should. It's full of chemicals to keep it fresh for longer but the taste is totally gone:(
    And again same for meat etc. - don't shop in supermarkets, go to your local butcher. They put there less packaging and you can also get paper instead of plastic.


  • Comment number 57.

    I live in Germany where recycling is practically a religion.
    I try to avoid the supermarkets as much as possible (why support the global giants?) and buy fruit, veg, chicken, eggs etc from our small local farmer. We live on the outskirts of a large town but are still able to get to locally produced produce. It's more fun, you get to know the local people in your community and you know what you're eating. Food may be simpler, but it's organic, seasonal and tastes fresher. I have all but stopped buying veg and fruit which I know has come from abroad.
    We drink raw milk straight from the cow. The farmer gets all the cash straight away and it doesn't pass through any middle men who cream off most for themselves. We buy milk in our reusable glass bottles.
    When I get the chance I visit farmers' markets for cheese and butter and stock up.
    Our plastic waste has been greatly reduced since we started.

  • Comment number 58.

    Plus I've started Square Foot Gardening, which I'm hoping will keep our family in veg and salad etc for three quarters of the year. That cuts down even more on what we spend on food, I get fresh air and exercise and we all appreciate far more what comes on to the table.

  • Comment number 59.

    You're not alone, Chris!

    In the USA there is a group of artists living three months without plastic and saving what is inevitably accumulated or collected from other sources for their artwork. They began with you on August 1.

    Keep it up! It might be a challenge to go back to your plastic-y way of life.

  • Comment number 60.

    I an effort to cut out plastic, what's your pc/laptop made from ;) I agree though that a lot of plastic is uneccessary packaging and such like. Good Luck!

  • Comment number 61.

    Great, you simply deleted my comment. Well, no suprise really, an accepted mode of argument for the green lobby.

    Why don't you answer Mr Jeavans to my particular technical objections: no bags will attract vermin and bacteria, spoil the air quality and will necessiate cleaning efforts far outreaching any positive effects arising from not binning a tiny amount of plastic. Can you give me any meaningful number please rather than your tearful storyline?

  • Comment number 62.

    I read your articles with great interest! I reside in Laredo, Texas, USA. We are actively combating the single-use plastic bag problem and hope to have an all out ban in this city in the near future. We have had some success as more stores are carrying reusable bags
    I refuse plastic bags when I visit stores and carry reusable bag for grocery shopping.
    Thanking you,

  • Comment number 63.

    I am amazed at some of the rude, ignorant comments you have received. I can't believe some people would not give up plastic for the good of the environment. I can't believe there aren't laws against producing plastics that aren't recyclable in the first place. Why can't everything be bulk. For example, why can't I go to a store with my old container and refill it with an item, ex. laundry detergent. Why does everything need so much packaging.

  • Comment number 64.

    #63 amydeal: Hi, I agree with you that there is many product with good packaging we could reuse.
    But again - most of the people are lazy and make even the smallest shopping "on wheels" (they go by car). I rather walk to the market with my little troley. It's not only good for the environment but also great for me as I get some excercise:)
    I understand that people need a car for big shopping (before party, holidays etc...) but they don't need to use their cars for every 200metres - I would tell them - "look at your a$$es people - you're FAT! :("
    And back to your comment: Put it simply - recycling of old packaging costs more than making new one and dumping the old one elsewhere. And let's be honest - population on the Earth always cared more about money than anything else. Sad but true!
    Look at the Amazonian rain forests for example - Who would possibly want to kill the LUNGS OF THE EARTH? Not many of us (ordinary people) but we can see the big concerns that get milions and milions for damaging it. Why? Because someone WHO'S GOT MONEY ordered to do so:(

  • Comment number 65.

    Are you aware that most teabags are made from polyester and so will not degrade in the compost? So much for taking the kettle and teabags to work - it will have to be carefully selected teabags or leaf tea!

  • Comment number 66.

    I haven't been there, but apparently there is a shop called Unpackaged in Clerkenwell ( Apparently you can take your own empty containers and fill them up with different products there.

  • Comment number 67.

    In my adopted corner of France the problem of plastic and other waste has been solved, at least for the moment. Since this new scheme came in I have reduced my domestic waste by about two-thirds.

    Everything possible is composted (most people have gardens). We recycle glass bottles, tins, plastic bottles and clean paper. Metal, wood and garden waste go to the tip for recycling. And everything else, mostly plastic in various forms, dirty paper, wet nappies, you name it, goes to the new electricity generating station. Our rubbish produces enough surplus electricity to run a town of 30,000 people, and an inert end-product used for road metal. The area around the plant is grazed by several herds of dairy cattle who are regularly monitored and show no additional dioxin (there is always a little in the background). I can see only one problem: how will they run the plant when we no longer produce enough waste plastic?

  • Comment number 68.

    Its seems from the comments coming in and from the blog itself that the main reason for throw-away plastic being so prevelant and difficult to avoid is the British obsession with convenience and the one-stop shop.

    I think I speak for many when I say that the one commodity that we would all want more of is time and that anything we can do to reduce the amount of time that we spend completing boring but essential tasks is generally welcomed into our individual routines. This is definitely the case with the weekly/monthly shop. We want quicker, simpler and cheaper and we don't want to have to expend to much thought on it either - we'd rather wander round the shop planning what we're going to do that evening (or even do it all online and let someone else do the hard work) rather than have to ponder the moral and social merits of each purchase. This is why the supermarket controls so much power in modern Britain - we are beholden to it to increasingly supply more and more of our needs. And yet through this commercial agglomeration we have lost our choice; by reducing the time we take to make consumer choices we essentially limit the choice that we have available - the smaller, independent shops are forced out through inability to compete with the superstores, until the superstores are all that remains and we are held at their mercy both financially and socially.

    The average wage has not actually increased (relatively) for the last 30 years, all that has occurred to allow us to live the 'better' lives that we do is that, in the typical household, women are now wage-earners too, effectively doubling the household income but halving the household's free-time. We live a continual balancing act of time:money and the thing that gets sacrificed is our moral and social democratic choices. If we had the time to go to our local shops and markets and peruse the products and wares at our leisure and didn't feel constrained by our need to earn rather than live, then our choices would more than likely be different. But as it is, these superstores provide what we want, when we want it and it is, invariably, individually wrapped and wrapped again, in hermetically-sealed environments for our general convenience. This, I believe, is at the centre of the problem of wasteful use of plastic.

  • Comment number 69.

    @ ecojayjay, #66:

    There used to be a few places with names like "scoop 'n' save", "weigh 'n' save" and so forth where various categories of goods were sold loose by the kilo; plastic bags were provided, although you might have been able to use your own containers.

  • Comment number 70.

    I don't get it... you remove the plastic rings around the cans of beer and what? Leave them in the shop? Put them in the shop bin? Or put them in the bin at home? What's the point in that? This just seems like a half-hearted attempt to get a bit of publicity.

    I fruit and veg and meat loose from the local shop, I don't have a car and drink from glass beer bottles. I don't have kids and walk to work – thing is I don't bleat about it as if I'm special – what makes you think you are?

  • Comment number 71.

    How the plastic takeaway boxes?

    In HK, people used to carry rattan container for shopping, stainless steel containers for hot food or hot drinks

  • Comment number 72.

    Dear Chris,

    I'm not trying to catch you out, but what about bathroom products which are nearly always packed in plastic (deodorants, shampoos, toothpaste etc)? It is not just the plastic mountain which is a concern, but the way oils in cosmetics react creating potential carcinogens - something new European legislation overlooks to our detriment.

    For excellent alternatives, try taking a look at:

  • Comment number 73.

    This exercise is utterly pointless and seems nothing more than an exercise in self-aggrandisement.
    Plastic is part of our 21st century life - live with it.

  • Comment number 74.

    We make environmental bags out of recycled fabric and give them away for free.

    We are concerned about the millions of plastic bags which end up in our oceans and can go on to kill the sealife.

    So far we have made nearly 25,000 morsbags worldwide since January 2007. Please look at

    Thank you

  • Comment number 75.

    The amount of plastic in our lives is unacceptable. My mother, I remember, used to twitch about plastic packaging 25 years ago! She was way ahead of her time. I'd love to see councils forced to recycle it. My council - Barnet in North London - is useless and doesn't do it.

  • Comment number 76.

    It would be useful if you could enlist some experts to comment on how environmentally friendly starch/pla polymers are.

  • Comment number 77.

    It is an interesting but futile idea.
    A quest of this nature is futile as you are going against the norm in an extreme way.
    In France our major supermarkets do not offer free plastic bags but offer to sell a more substantial reusable bag at check outs for a euro or so. It is a bit of a curse but we have plastic boxes in our car so usually we wheel our shopping and transfer.
    Why not ask British super markets to follow the successful French lead?
    Once this is achieved then a start can be made on identifying other areas where savings might be made.
    I note that when I was a kid Britain had more battery electric vehicles than the rest of the world put together. These were mostly milk floats although our milk was originally delivered by horse that was faster than electric for obvious reasons. As a kid, London had possibly the world’s biggest trolley bus network with some 1800 vehicles compared to Britain’s total of about 3000. There is not a single system left. I also remember London’s first generation trams. May be your next project? From France near four new tramways.

  • Comment number 78.


    There is some truth in what you say, for an individual. However, there are increasing numbers joining in out in the comunity. It has not reached critical mass yet but it is only going one-way.

    We could learn from France, especially trams. These are being re-introduced in Edinburgh in the near future. Success there will encourage others.


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