A Month Without Plastic- Week 2 Wrap-Up

Another week has come and gone, but plastic is forever. Our plastic free challengers have done their best to avoid plastic in it’s many forms however, becoming more aware of how pervasive plastic is in our day to day lives is a blessing and a curse.

Actively avoiding plastic has created an environment of awareness. There is plastic that is easy to see, it’s everywhere and its obvious. But then there are the hidden plastics, the plastics that are harder to identify and excessive packing, often an afterthought. This week some our challengers discovered the joys of hidden plastic packaging and excessive packaging.

Packaging has presented a challenge to our plastic free team. We have had to change what and where we purchase and have had to stop using some products all together because plastic free alternatives aren’t available.

Finding cucumbers without plastic seems near impossible. If you want a salad your lettuce options are limited to romaine and iceberg. Think you will buy cherries, grapes or any other kind of small fruit? Think again.

Food packaging has become over the top. Everything is wrapped in plastic, put on a tray and bagged. Even when trying to make responsible choices, avoiding all the packaging is difficult. Butcher counters are often unmanned in the evenings so buying plastic free meat is a hopeless venture. Farmers markets are closed Monday to Friday so finding plastic free fruit and veg is difficult and for some items, impossible.

Then there’s the issue of hidden plastic in seemingly plastic free packaged products. One challenger this week purchased compostable coffee pods, only to find that inside the recyclable paper box, each pod was individually wrapped in plastic. Another bought a cured meat from a local shop that was wrapped in paper, when she got home and removed the paper, the product inside was vacuumed sealed in, you guessed it, plastic. Even when the attempt is made to buy plastic free products often there’s hidden packaging involved.

Excessive packaging doesn’t stop with food. Non-food items often come in boxes filled with foam peanuts, styrofoam and other harmful plastic packing products. Even items meant to reduce single use plastics, like plastic free compostable toothbrushes, were shipped inside plastic envelopes.

 

Let’s check in with our challengers and see how week two has treated them…

 

Sharon:

My biggest challenge last week wasn’t at the grocery store.  I bought a few items at Canadian Tire and the packaging was excessive.  Along with cardboard, the item were packaged in foam and plastic.  I am starting to pay more attention to all packaging, not just plastic.  I am also paying more attention to all waste.  I am amazed at how much waste we create even when trying not to do so.
This is harder than I thought it would be.

Rose:

The revelations I had last week about beauty without plastic became the bane of my plastic free existence this week. Finding solid shampoos, conditioners and face cleanser was easy enough (thank you LUSH!) but items like my toothbrush and make up are stumbling points. I have found some items like lip balm and bronzer in metal tins but there doesn’t seem to be an easy alternative to mascara (my favourite!) or any variety in plastic free lipsticks. Even just trying to shave became an ordeal when I had to decide between using plastic razors or turning into Sweeny Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
I had success finding compostable tooth brushes, even if they did come covered in plastic packaging.
As this month goes on I’m finding more and more plastic in my everyday life and so much of it is hard to avoid. Why are plastic free options so difficult to access? Why aren’t alternatives readily available, or even available at all?

Jake:

I have been using reusable grocery bags when going shopping. Buying beverages in cans and glass bottles instead of plastic. Saying no to bags when I am only buying one item at a time.
My greatest challenge has been cutting out plastic packaging all together when buying products, if I was going to do this I would have to change my whole diet.
I good story from my week happened when I was in Sobeys and noticed that they had two different single use grocery bags and when I asked about them I was told they switched out their old ones for “environmentally responsible” single use bags that use 30% less plastic.
The most excessive packing I have seen lately is the packing used for seaweed snacks. Three separate packages inside a package, with plastic trays inside the individual packages.

 

Jillian:

I didn’t use any plastic bags this week!! I also was able to purchase storage supplies second hand; cheaper for me and better for the environment! I also tried out my first paper straws. 🙂
Purchasing any food products (especially anything frozen) has been a real challenge! From not knowing what type of packaging is below a cardboard box (surprise it’s probably plastic) to anything that is individually wrapped. Restaurants are still a challenge but I’ve learned the Nook and Cranny, in Truro, is going straw-less.
The craziest packaging I’ve come across was brought to my attention by my mom, who is now on the look out for better alternatives to plastic. (Last week she bought paper straws!)
This week she purchased 100% “compostable” coffee pods. The thing is, they ALL come individually wrapped in plastic! I think the worst part of this is that they don’t tell you on the outside packaging of cardboard that they come wrapped in plastic so the person thinks they are doing a great thing for the environment when in reality they have been tricked into buying a product that is not environmentally friendly at all.

 

Check back next week to find out how our challengers are doing!