Having co-founded Eco Glitter Fun in 2016, I’m more aware now than ever of our daily plastic use and have made a conscious effort to reduce my own personal plastic footprint.
As we know, it’s a big challenge, so I like to take my focus to an area in my life to see where I can reduce my reliance on plastics even further. After writing the blog, ‘How to go ‘plastic-free this Christmas’, it was only right that I too, took on the plastic-free challenge this year.
So, here we go, Sophie’s Plastic-Free Journey begins …
At the start of this challenge I (smugly) thought I was one step ahead with my non-plastic gifts, wrapping and decorations - how hard can this be?
Then, I suddenly remembered… Christmas food, parties & lunches
As you are aware, so much of our food is wrapped in plastic, which meant Christmas food shopping needed a little bit more thought this year.
In our family we like to cater for all the respected Christmas courses such as; chocolate breakfast, champagne brunch, the main Christmas dinner, afternoon buffet, cheese board suppers AND boxing day treats - this is where my struggles began. It was extremely difficult to get everything I needed from just one big supermarket, because most food items come pre-packaged in some kind of plastic. Even if it was boxed, annoyingly they often had a see-through plastic window, which I love as it entices me to buy the food but it’s also unnecessary plastic. During my ‘big shop’ I realised that I wasn’t going to get all my Christmas treats from just one shop, I was going to have hunt further a field for my plastic free treat alternatives.
Adding to the big day I had to consider pre-Christmas parties, lunches and the events I was working at, so I had to be on my toes in those situations too. I gave myself some very strict rules:
No travel coffee cup meant no takeaway hot drinks
No travel water bottle meant I went thirsty, unless I could get a glass of tap water
No food items in plastic at all
No takeaway food with plastic cutlery unless I had my own
Due to poor organisation I went hungry/thirsty a few times. If you intend to try these rules, be gentle on yourself, and allow for some slip ups. Little is better than none.
The staff Christmas party
A time full of fun, reflection and joy – well usually, but for me in my quest to be plastic-free I had yet again been poorly organised. I hadn’t eaten dinner and all the food on offer in my co-working office space, where we hosted our staff party, was plastic wrapped. Result… a very hungry and slightly tipsy Sophie. On the bright side, I didn’t need too many drinks to get my dancing shoes on!
Busy Christmas Weeks
Like everyone working in retail & events, I was run off my feet in December – from bottling gorgeous biodegradable eco glitter, spreading the guilt-free sparkles at Christmas Markets and hosting eco glitter bars at top London events and parties – it was manic. Resulting in me being extremely time poor and having zero time to shop, cook and prepare my meals.
Just say no
Another thing I slipped up on was the ‘obligatory plastic straw’ that you’re given when you order a drink. I was with my family, having a lovely time in a London bar, when it happened - I nearly had an actual meltdown. I’d totally forgot to say ‘no straw please’ and there it was, in my drink, in all its horrible plastic glory. Then came the guilt. Even if I don’t use it – it’s going in the bin. I was so mad with myself, and let’s just say I think the waiter thought I was insane.
Trust no one
At home we have a veg box delivered. Can’t go wrong here I hear you cry, and so we thought. One week I added a few extra little veg-i-licious delights to my box … and when it arrived, to my shock and horror my lovely, ‘innocent’ little extras were wrapped in plastic. Lesson learnt, trust no one, even an organic veg box company.
Plastic is everywhere, it’s so ingrained in our society. So much so, that when I was waiting to open our Eco Glitter Fun Glitter Bar at a Corporate Christmas Party in London - I spied/sniffed out a bowl of yummy chocolates in the reception area of the hotel. Automatically my response was to slowly wonder over and snaffle the chocolates, obvs. I took one.. nice, but that wasn’t enough, so I took another. It was when I was half way through the second one, when the chocolate fog cleared, that I noticed the plastic wrapping. My lesson here is a tough one, I need to control the chocolate fog and not snaffle carelessly.
The little things
I know I am focusing a lot on the things which I can’t have in this blog, but I must also highlight the wins. I found a glass jar of cream for my husband’s mince pies. Small wins felt great.
One element which delivered all the ‘good feels’ was shopping locally. Luckily I have a package free shop near my home, and with a little research I found other stores that sold plastic free goods. Yay! This did mean that I had to go to five different grocery shops, which led to my shopping time to be way more than usual. Not so yay. On the flip side, I am now supporting local, smaller shops in my area and that is a really good thing. Like me, they are business owners, so supporting them added an extra feel good element to my quest. Plus it meant more fresh air and more exercise, which is a bonus before the Christmas indulgence. Super YAY.
The big day
So, I have shopped and worked and partied, whilst being as plastic-free as possible – then came the big day. On Christmas Eve I spent, no less than 12 hours, yes 12 hours preparing and cooking my Christmas feast from scratch, compared to previous years where I would have brought a lot of pre-packaged items for convenience. At 9pm on Christmas eve I was slightly regretting my strict plastic free challenge. However, all my faith was restored when it came to eating and enjoying the results of my efforts. It was amazing – lovely home cooked, organic and vegetarian dishes and not a scrap of plastic in sight. The final result was worth the effort, plus it’s only an effort when things are new. Once we get in the habit, things will become easier and just be a part of what we do.
You must love pasta
I must be honest, I really struggled with time - time to meal plan, shop, prepare and cook healthy non-plastic covered food. I survived mainly on toast and pasta with pesto dishes throughout the pre-Christmas weeks. My busy work schedule combined with my poor time management led to poor eating habits. Which is not ideal at all considering well-being is a big priority for me. Not being able to eat well effected my energy levels and mood – so I’m determined to overcome this next year, and with a bit more practice and planning, I’m confident that I will.
Things I realised after
Here are some things which I realised during my #plasticfree Christmas.
Plastic is the price we pay for convenience
I don’t believe switching from plastic to compostable packaging is the answer, we need to fundamentally change the way we consume. We aren't recycling or composting our way out of this waste issue.
I had set myself up to fail. Plastic-free living requires time, planning and commitment.
Somethings just don’t come plastic-free (like posh crisps, which I love), so you have to accept that you will not be able to have them, if you want to be truly plastic-free.
I live a predominantly plant based diet, the problem with this is that many of my favourite vegan ingredients come wrapped in plastic. e.g. The delights of seitan, coconut yogurt and tempeh.
Time, planning and (did I mention) time – you need to be aware that you’ll need to plan in some extra time in order to plan, shop for and prepare your food.
My big realisation was, for me its about finding balance… explained below.
Finding a balance which works for you is important. I found myself getting so hung up not using plastic, that I didn’t really enjoy the ‘food’ part of Christmas. Which is sad for me as it’s usually one of my most favourite parts. It is a big issue, but it needs all of us to make steps of all magnitudes towards reducing our personal plastic footprint.
The plus side of this challenge is that I’m aware of the options, aware of the time I need and also empathise with its difficulties. Giving up plastic completely in one go is a struggle due to the way our society currently packages items. There’s just too much.
Going forward into 2019, I will continue my plastic-free pledge as best I can and document my findings and struggles as I go. Check out my next blog, which will focus on Easter.
Just remember, no one is perfect and it’s a journey.
Lots of love and sparkles
Co-founder, Eco Glitter Fun
Let's keep talking...
How do you go #plasticfree?
I’d love to hear from your experiences and then together we can share and help each other reduce our plastic footprints! What do you do day-to-day which helps reduce plastic which I could take on? Where do you shop and what do you buy?