Plastic Free July: week one update

OK, so week one of Plastic Free July is over. Here’s how I got on and how I’m feeling about it all.

Let me start with this; I always knew the challenge would be tough. Mainly because:

A: I know how much food is packaged in plastic. Those yogurts I love, my guilty-pleasure snacks (yes, I eat Quavers) and my go-to healthy-hummus (from Tesco Organic) for when I don’t have time to make my own. So ‘refusing’ products just because they’re in plastic isn’t always feasible… Unless I’m willing to starve this month.

and B: as well as freelancing, I work in a restaurant and I see first-hand what’s thrown away every shift. And it involves A LOT of plastic, as you can imagine.

But, I guess part of this plastic-free journey is to highlight, at least, just how tricky it is to avoid.

In this update post I list my goals alongside my current progress so far, after week one:

Goal One: Avoid all plastic bags. 

So far all plastic bags have been easy to avoid.

I still need to purchase some cotton bags, but for now my trusty suede backpack never lets me down. Whether I’m at Tesco, shopping in TK Maxx for trainers or in LUSH for toiletries, it always amazes me how much I can fit in it. Plus, being a backpack really helps distribute the weight evenly so it’s well easy to carry. I’m definitely nailing this one. 

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Ooh, I also took my plastic bag collection to Tesco for them to be recycled. I did think the plastic bag recycling box could have been more obviously located within the store, i.e. AS SOON as you walk in. But I found it nonetheless and hopefully my bags will be made into something new very soon…

Goal Two: Avoid all plastic straws.

OK so with straws, I encountered my first hiccup.

I ordered a ‘Nada Colada’ alcohol-free cocktail whilst dining at Maray in Liverpool last Wednesday. And completely forgot to ask them to skip the straw. So it arrived at the table, straw in-tact. My Mum pointed it out and I was quick to remove it – but the damage was already done. The straw had already been used, therefore making its way to the bin regardless if I’d used it or not. So lesson learnt – BE MORE VIGILANT. SAY NO BEFORE THEY PUT THE EFFING THING IN THE DRINK.

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my nada colada without a straw

However, I have made some small progress with the straw obsession at work. When I make people drinks, I’ve been skipping the straw (where possible) i.e. if someone orders a pint of lemonade, I won’t automatically give them a straw. And you know what, hardly anyone has asked me for one.

So it seems that perhaps the industry could trial this. A sort of opt-in scheme for straws, instead of automatically being given one? Hmmmm, food for thought!

Goal Three: Avoid all plastic coffee cups.

Drinking-in (as opposed to taking out) has allowed me to avoid the dreaded coffee cups so far.

I’m looking at purchasing a Keep-Cup or similar, but for now I’ve been making sure I have time to enjoy my coffee within the shop. I know this luxury isn’t feasible for everyone, so I will update you on the status of my coffee cup usage in a couple of week’s time.

One thing I did notice, is that Pumpkin Cafe at Crewe Train Station don’t actually offer drink-in coffee cups. They ONLY have the disposable ones. So sod that, I skipped it. And it felt GOOD!

My sister modelling the drink-in coffee cup so elegantly in Costa

I also noted Costa have very prominent signage about their recycling schemes and incentives. I asked about them recycling the reusable cups – they send them to a specialist plant to be recycled as they are not currently recycled through the regular system.

Goal Four: Avoid plastic in the supermarket, where possible.

This is by far the trickiest goal, which is making me a little anxious. I plan to visit each major supermarket at least once over the course of the month, but my first shop was at Tesco.

I mentioned on Twitter just how difficult the shop was, attempting to avoid plastic. They got back to me and said:

Basically just ending the Direct Message saying the film on berry bags is needed to extend the life of the berries by allowing the transfer of gas and moisture, and that they hope that helps clear things up.

Well, thanks Tesco. But no, it doesn’t really. What I want to know is this: Are you avoiding plastic where possible in your stores? What are you doing, as a responsible, profitable retailer, to discourage the use of these nasty, single-use plastics? I bet they can’t answer that one straight. Another one I want answering is, why are you still using those shitty, thin, plastic bags for loose fruit and veg? What about switching to paper bags? And can you trial more loose fruit and veg, just to see what happens? It would be great to see more loose fruit and veggie options in our supermarkets. Who’s with me?

Nice one to Lidl and their new plastic-free packaging for nuts!
Surely, Tesco, out of all those mushrooms on offer, more than ONE variety can be offered  loose?!

Goal Five: Avoid plastic toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, face wash).

I thought this was going to really tough, but it’s the goal that’s surprised me most. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I went on a mission to find the above items with no plastic in the packaging or product. I’m pleased to say I found them all at LUSH. Including facial scrub, and TOOTHPASTE.

There’s a bit of a crisis going on with conventional toothpaste, with their packaging literally clogging up landfills, so I was happy to try out a new alternative and LUSH were able to offer that.

,my all-new plastic free beauty products I’m trialling this month!

Later this month I’m going to reveal my new plastic-free beauty regime on my Instagram Story so make sure you follow me to keep up to date 😀

So… so far, *kind of* so good? I know I need to make more progress on the food-shopping front, but the supermarkets in the UK don’t make it easy.

It’s good to see eco-responsible companies like LUSH really thinking the use of plastic through and offering up feasible solutions, like these scarves and picnic blankets made from fully recycled plastic bottles….

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Matt at LUSH modelling the plastic picnic mats 😀

Why can’t the food industry hurry up and do the same? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


  1. 20 July 2017 / 9:15 am

    Good effort Sophie! I’m trying to be more environmentally friendly myself – mainly around food, but that’s real commitment what you did! Well done x

    • Sophie
      20 July 2017 / 11:33 am

      Thanks, Katya! I’m starting small and banning the easy worst offenders, then building up from there! I think it’s great that so many people seem to be taking more of an interest in this sort of thing now. It’s so important! xx

      • 20 July 2017 / 2:02 pm

        I totally agree – it’s so so important- but absolutely one step at a time makes it less daunting x

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