As you’ll know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, plastic is something that has been really concerning me for some years now. While we’ve already made lots of swaps n our daily life, I can’t help but feel like I could be doing more sometimes. With Autumn and I doing 30 Days Wild currently, it felt like the perfect time to set ourselves the challenge of going plastic-free for a day. We went to a zero-waste shop the day before for a few essentials to prepare a little, but I decided that we’d mostly give it a go with things that we already had.
7.30 – Autumn wakes up and comes to wake us up too. After going to the loo, she washes her hands with a bar of soap (which was part of a Christmas present from one of my friends and came in cardboard packaging so we’re safe there). I had put our liquid soap in a plastic bottle up on the windowsill the night before so that neither of us forgot and used it in a sleepy daze! We’ve been ordering toilet roll from Who Gives a Crap since last January or February, so that hadn’t come in plastic packaging either. They all come individually wrapped in paper, then packaged in a large cardboard box.
7.35 – Autumn usually has jam on toast on a plastic plate for breakfast. Of course, that was a no no today! I had pre-prepared by making a loaf of bread, so she had that with some jam and butter rather than margarine. We gave it to her on a bamboo plate. So far, so good.
8.10 – Oh no, we stumble upon our first unavoidable plastic of the day! Getting Autumn ready for school, I notice that all of her uniform has plastic buttons on it. Because she has quite curly hair I tend to use a wooden wide tooth comb, so we’re all good there. I make a mental note that I’ll need to brush my hair with this later!
8.45 – While Dave does the school run, I have a quick shower. Oops, more unavoidable plastic! I look up and notice that the showerhead is plastic. However, the rest of my shower is plastic free as I use bars of soap and shampoo and conditioner which was packaged in a glass jar.
9.00 – Out of the shower, it’s time to take my medication. Slightly exasperated by the day not being as plastic-free as I’d hoped for already, I turn over the blister pack, realising that this is also plastic. I use Autumn’s comb and tie my hair in plaits in order to avoid the hairdryer,
9.10 – I get dressed using my cork-encased deodorant and pop a couple of reusable breast pads into m bra.
9.30 – It’s almost time to leave for baby group. I pack some wooden toys and Reuben’s rubber teether into his bag.
9.45 – Reuben has slept in unusually late and is still snoring! It’s time to wake him up and give him a quick nappy change because we sprint out of the door. I use cloth nappies full-time, so there’s no need to make any changes here. I clean him using reusable wipes (did you know that a shocking 90% of baby wipes contain plastic?!)
10.10 – Now at baby group, Reuben has his first feed of the day. Fortunately, he’s breastfed. Otherwise, this likely would have been another plastic fail! Although I had one glass bottle for Autumn, it was pricier, harder to sterilise and obviously a lot more breakable than her plastic bottles!
12.00 – Having picked Autumn up from nursery, it’s time for her to have lunch. I toast some of the bread I made (in the…oh, plastic toaster) and fry an egg using butter rather than oil. At this point, I have come to realise that this day will be about avoiding as much plastic as possible. It’s frustrating, but I have to make peace with this and just do my best. There’s no way to escape it all.
12.10 – Before she eats her lunch, I get Autumn changed into some home clothes. Going through her wardrobe, I notice that lots of her clothes have plastic buttons. Some are made of polyester. I deliberately choose her an outfit that is made of cotton and has no plastic buttons.
12.15 – I think about what I can have for lunch and remember I have some vegan sausage rolls in the freezer. They’re packaged in cardboard, but I have to open the plastic fridge door and freezer drawer to get them. Then I put them in the oven which has a plastic handle.
13.05 – I sit down to eat my lunch and realise that I usually have ketchup with sausage rolls. Especially these ones as in all honesty, they taste a bit weird and I won’t be buying them again. The ketchup we have in a plastic bottle, so I try out some Dijon mustard from a glass jar. It’s not quite right, so I give in and use the ketchup.
13.25 – Autumn finishes her egg on toast and is still hungry. I serve us both some cherries and strawberries from a local farm – in grown up’s bowls to avoid her plastic one.
13.45 – Autumn finally finishes eating and starts whinging about toys and that she doesn’t know what to play with. If she got genuinely upset about wanting to play with Barbies or something, I likely would have given in and let her have them. Instead, I gather lots of her wooden toys, toy plates and toy food, none of which are plastic. I also grabbed a couple of cuddly toys (the ones without plastic eyes) so that she could have a tea party with them.
13.50 – Autumn ignores the toys and starts complaining that she’s hungry still. I eye up the cupboards for quick snacks to grab her, but they’re all wrapped in plastic. I boil her a couple of eggs instead.
The rest of the afternoon is a bit of a blur, as I have a nap and get bags ready for Reuben’s swimming lesson (no plastic bags and a reusable swim nappy, so we’re plastic-free there hopefully). It was a beautiful sunny day, so Autumn had fun playing in the garden either side of the swimming lesson.
7.00 – Dinner is served! I’ve cooked Autumn and I a jacket potato with butter and beans. There are some things margarine tastes just as good as butter on, but butter always tastes far better on a potato! I could have been more adventurous with our plastic-free meals today. However, we weren’t collecting shopping until the following day and didn’t find time to go for a plastic-free supermarket shop, so I stuck with things we already had in the house, looking for things without plastic packaging. Autumn and I both enjoy it…but not as much as dessert. Earlier in the day I’d spotted the Ben and Jerry’s in the freezer and noticed it was in a cardboard tub. Win!
8.00 – Autumn has finally finished eating after a lot of encouragement (mainly for the potato rather than the dessert). It’s time for a quick bath before bed. She asks “I’m not allowed to have bubbles, am I?” glumly. However, her mood swiftly changes when I remind her that her banana bubble bath is in a metal bottle! Then she asks for bath toys and I bring her a few foam shapes (I don’t think those contain plastic). Most of her usual bath toys are plastic. “I never ever want to do a plastic-free day EVER again, Mummy!” she says.
I feel a bit bad, even though the purpose of this day was to educate her on the damaging effects of plastic and how much of it there is everywhere. She is excited to use the body wash we had put in one of our old jars at the zero waste shop though.
8.20 – I get Autumn dry and ready for bed. She brushes her teeth (with her bamboo toothbrush and toothpaste from a glass jar). We then read a book about baby wipes and fatbergs, which prompts a thoughtful discussion before I cuddle her, sing a lullaby and say goodnight.
8.35 – All the stuff from dinner is still in the kitchen, so it’s time to do the washing up. I’m exhausted, so I don’t forgo the plastic washing bowl for my own convenience. I do use washing up liquid from the zero-waste shop which is in a large gin bottle though, in conjunction with a compostable sponge. While I’m doing this, I realise that some of the knives I used for preparing dinner have plastic handles. Damnit.
9.00 – I am so tired and can’t see anything else I could snack on in the house that isn’t wrapped in plastic. I’m really hungry so I give up and grab a Penguin from the cupboard. I decide that’s the end of my plastic-free day.
I was quite confident that we’d manage a day free of almost all plastics. I was realistic though and knew there were some things that we couldn’t really avoid. What was scary was the fact that there was just so much plastic everywhere the more I looked, despite all the swaps I’ve made over the years. Plastic is so much more convenient and it’s scary how there seems to be no escape from it.
I know that Autumn said she never wanted a plastic-free day again, but I hope that she does, or manages a near plastic-free day again in the future. A future where there are more alternatives and choosing to be more environmentally friendly doesn’t involve so much thought and spending more money.
Welcome to my blog! I'm Laura, a 29 year old mum of two. I live in Kent with my high school sweetheart husband Dave, our daughter Autumn and newborn son Reuben.
I write about my experiences of parenting, as well as my plethora of interests including fashion, beauty, cars, weddings, mental health and the home.