How I tried (and failed) to eat ‘plastic free’

Yesterday was apparently ‘National Plastic Bag Free Day’ and because I love a challenge I decided that not only will I ditch the plastic bags (because they actually got ditched a little while a go), I would also ditch eating anything that came in plastic!

So I think the first thing to note here is there was a serious lack of preparation which probably made this a lot harder then it could have been. The process though was totally eye opening and although I knew that lots of foods came in plastic, when I really noticed it, it is insane.

Plastic is a material that once we create it, it is here to stay. This paragraph from the World Counts blew my mind:

Plastic is Forever. They are not bio-degradable. Can you imagine that since plastic was invented, everything that has ever been made from this material still exists? In around 700 years they will start breaking up. They will not decompose or biodegrade and get absorbed by nature. They will “photo-degrade” – which means they will turn into little toxic bits of themselves. They are here to stay.

So with zero prep but an enthusiastic heart I decided to start my plastic free food day… quickly getting stumped at breakfast time.

Not a great start but thankfully I had some eggs, avocado and some pepper and onion to make a Mexican themed start to the day. So far so good.

The next challenge came in a snack form…Usually I would have some nuts and some fruit but my nuts came in a plastic package so that was off the menu leaving a solo orange championing the key snack of the day.

I’m not sure whether this broke the rules (but I kind of made the rules so lets say not), I took left over vegetable curry that I had made the previous evening for my lunch.

Quick vegetable curry

This meal was made of aubergine, onion and chickpeas fried in tikka curry paste, then chopped tomatoes and coconut milk were added for the sauce (so far so good). The grand finale however was a good handful of spinach which came in a plastic bag. Eeek! I love spinach so I really need to find new ways of buying veg without the plastic going forward. Maybe farmers markets or try and grow it myself??

Anyway, because that was made yesterday I carried on my merry way in the belief that I was smashing the plastic free food day. It was going well until the end of the working day when I returned home hungry and ready for a pre-dinner snack…There was NOTHING I could grab.

No nuts, no carrots (they were in a bag), no hummus (that was in a plastic pot) and I was at a loss. Unfortunately when hunger takes hold it is very hard to resist and I ended up having a carrot and hummus… (oh the shame!!).

I did however brush myself off and perk up my ideas for the final meal of the day. I decided that I would go for butternut squash and black bean fajitas with homemade ‘plastic free wraps’.

I drizzled the butternut squash in oil, sprinkled over some smoked paprika, and some ground cumin, sprinked over some salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Then I kicked myself as the spices were from plastic packaging… ARGH! So difficult.

From that moment I was REALLY REALLY dedicated… I roasted the butternut squash, fried the tinned black beans with some crushed garlic and made the wraps by forming a dough with plain flour, butter (in foil!), baking powder, and boiling water. After leaving to rise for 10 mins I then rolled out golf sized balls of dough into wraps and dry fried them in a hot pan.

Roasted butternut squash and black bean fajita

And that was it… I quite thought provoking and really challenging plastic free (ish) day. I think the main takeaway from the day is that actually it is almost impossible to be totally plastic free and although that ideally getting closer to that point is an aspiration for me… it doesn’t mean that if we can’t be perfect then we should give up. What we need is to have communities of people making daily efforts to use less plastic then just a few people doing it perfectly.

After this experience I will continue to opt for fruit and vegetables that are loose then those that are in bags (when I can).

I will try and go for foods in glass jars over squeezy plastic bottles.

I will make a real real effort to go to more local fruit and veg shops and farmers markets where I can take my own packaging.

So that was me and my day!

I would love to know any plastic free tips you have when it comes to food or even whether you have tried a similar experiment?? I want to know whether I am not on my own with how hard I felt it!!

Let me know.

Laura xx