We’re nearly 3 weeks into our attempt at plastic-free Lent. We’ve negotiated a birthday complete with party food and yet more foul weather for shopping cyclists. It’s not been an easy challenge but we are learning a lot and I’m increasingly questioning why we seem to have so much plastic in our world. I’m going to resist the temptation to rant about the harm is does, but now that I’m looking out for things without it, plastic seems to be lurking everywhere.

Here are a couple of examples: in order to enjoy a humble biscuit now and then we really have to make our own. I have yet to find a shop-bought biscuit option that does not involve plastic. Baking your own is easy and there are 100s of good recipes online. So far so good. The majority of these involve syrup, as do flapjacks. Luckily you can buy this in tins – I trekked off to Lidl to get some only to find that the tin had a plastic collar round the top. I went to Sainsbury’s. Their alternative was syrup in plastic bottles. Back to Lidl. I got the tin but peeled off the slim plastic collar and left it on the shelf in protest. I’m not proud of this – just a bit hacked off.

My husband really had to get a new shirt. I enjoy sewing but I draw the line at turning shirt collars. He came home triumphant with his purchase neatly wrapped in a thin band of cardboard, only to discover that when unwrapped, the whole thing was held together with plastic clips and a big chunk of plastic inside the collar. None of it was the recyclable kind.

Cheese is also tricky. Even buying from a deli counter often involves plastic. I think my next attempt will be taking my own paper wrapping and asking them to cut me a piece of cheese to go in it.

On the other hand we have found some great products in very friendly wrapping. We recommend:

Who gives a crap loo roll https://uk.whogivesacrap.org/ – it comes in cardboard with each roll wrapped in bright paper (excellent for journalling with) and free bum jokes. Some of them made me laugh out loud. The added bonus is that 50% of profits go to sanitation projects in developing countries. And no one is panic buying it. Yet….

Mosgiel Farm milk https://mossgielfarm.co.uk/ – it comes in reusable glass bottles with foil tops just like in the old days. It’s produced on a cow-friendly ‘single use plastic free’ organic farm in the Borders and it tastes superb. It’s more expensive than the supermarket version but you get what you pay for as they say!

We have mastered the New Leaf Co op https://www.newleafcoop.co.uk/ and can now get everything we need in half the time it took us on the first attempt. You take your own containers (we now have a stock of them pre-weighed which saves time in the shop), fill them up, weigh them and stick a label on before going to the check-out. We’ve realised avoiding weekends is a good idea where possible. Planning is the key. Luckily my daughter is very good at this and regales her Dad with lists before he leaves for work so he can stop and shop as he cycles home.

It will be interesting to see how much this is all costing compared to our normal weekly foodshop. I’m interested to see how accessible these so-called choices actually are. More on that to follow.

I wouldn’t say us ‘oldies’ are finding it easy either practically or psychologically, but we’re not exactly starving! And whatever the challenges of the next few months bring for all of us in the UK, whether attempting to buy from large supermarkets or not, with or without plastic, here in our little corner we have enough chick peas to last us a while!

Meanwhile the various Lent courses around the country using the ‘God’s Creation Our concern’ material seem to be going well. At our church we got stuck into the difficult story of the flood and had some good discussion and fun with rainbow paints.

Find the materials here.

Plastic-free lent #2

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