The Plastic Challenge concludes. Or does it?


The official challenge is over and it’s time to take a little stock…

It’s been very time consuming, on many levels.  The phrase ‘Obsessive Plastic Disorder’ was coined by my sister at some juncture along the way…this is what you get for a living with a humorous psychotherapist…

Personal highlights and achievable achievements included salad on every window sill; ordering an organic local vegetable box delivery; granting a permanent home in my bag to a KeepCup and a snazzy refillable water bottle; making houmous, soap, deodorant, oatcakes and sourdough bread (more on that in due course…); making a plastic bottle top box collection to go to Lush for recycling; the discovery of paper cotton wool buds and plant-based washing up sponges; the friendly cooperation of local fishmongers, butchers, grocers and the New Leaf in Marchmont for its many loose produce options – I salute you! Joining the Marine Conservation Society as my own personal carbon off-setting strategy. The eventual discovery of feta at Waitrose in a recyclable plastic container – that was a jump up and down in the aisle moment. Biodegradable foil and clingwrap; compostable food waste bags from the Council at a £1 – buy at your local library (!) And general plastic awareness truly raised. And the many conversations and insights gleaned at home and out and about. There are a lot of people who care about this stuff.

Low-lights and going-slowly-nowhere moments included the behemoth of toothpaste packaging communications with the Council and various suppliers; salad on every window sill does induce the odd Oliver Twist moment (‘Please Sir, can I have some more?) and isn’t actually enough for three people; getting plastic hijacked at unexpected moments, for example, the plastic spoon under the ice-cream lid at the cinema. (When did that stop being wooden?) And peering into the underside of the olive oil bottle lid – ‘Er, is this plastic I see before me?!) The conveyor belt of apparent unsolvables from butter wraps to magazine subscription covers to dental hygiene brushes to medicines to plastic freebie packaging with every online order you make. Argh! The fact that there are a lot of people who care about this stuff, who don’t feel able to do much about it because  plastic is so pervasive.

And that brings me rather neatly to my next point. Personally, then, I think I need to keep going but more slowly and in full consideration of my personal limitations. And this needs approaching from a much larger perspective. More help is needed! There are so many roads to go down here so I just picked one – enlisting the supermarket.

I motored my way around the Waitrose aisles in my secret fantasy guise as Plastic-Champion-of-the-Universe and on basis of distilled findings, drafted three page document of requested changes for Waitrose buyers at head office. Showed proof to Doug, who gave me kind and skillful feedback, in which somewhere the words ‘middle class’ and ‘eccentric’ might have briefly popped up. I paused in my Haze of Optimism and recalled my own time of working in management, remembering what it was like to receive lengthy complaint letters from people who had no grasp of the context they were writing into. And how that makes you want to make pretty boats out of the said letters.

So I’m still working on that letter and it’s going to start with a very short list of achievable requests…

And on we go….



2 thoughts on “The Plastic Challenge concludes. Or does it?

  1. Great Champion of the Universe…………… opened my eyes to a much wider perspective
    I get so frustrated at M and S every time I go in, so I am on a mission, the brag about how their uniforms are made out of x plastic bottles yet still want you to have a plastic bag at checkout! ARRGGHH ………If you have your own bag full of free veg you don’t want to be putting new undies on your carrots, john lewis lovies give you a simple piece of tissue paper.
    I am a rower and after”reading stop drifting start rowing” and poor islands in the Pacific their beaches a natural dumping ground for our rubbish, how beautiful birds and Marine life are strangled by eating plastic they think is food.
    5p is nothing and ok ive been there too and forgotten a bag and paid out another £5 for a permanent bag.
    I feel sure there is a way, where a commercial business can boost their profile to balance any costs to switch to a more environment friendly alternative solution.
    so I start today to look at solutions? and the way I live too, I love cosmetics so that’s a whole new challenge, alternative packaging.
    I would like to see all dog wardens hound litter louts as much as they do dog owners, to pick up.
    Thank you! for reminding me

    As part of a rowing community we will be supporting the fill your water bottle for free campaign at our next regatta


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