My Drastic Plastic Fast part 4: A confessional gallery

26th June 2012 by

It’s day 15 of my month-long plastic fast (see part 1 for an explanation). So far I’ve been pretty daunted by the scale of trying to avoid the stuff for a month. And then I’ve been cheered and inspired by the heroes that are helping to make the task easier.

But now, at the halfway stage, it’s time to ‘fess up. Where have I failed? Where have I weakened? Where have I been unable to avoid plastic? And where have I had plastic thrust upon me against my will or under my radar? Feast your eyes on the plastic fast confessional gallery…

1. Bottle cap

Ah, my great love is now my great nemesis. The underside of the cap on my sweet, sweet bottle of ale is made of plastic. Aaaargh!  Also under the lid of a jar of tahini, not pictured.

2. The drinking straw

For some reason, bar staff are hard-wired to put a straw into every soft drink that is ordered, as if we’re not grown adults who can drink safely directly from the rim of a glass. I’ve been pretty good at pre-empting this by specifying ‘No straw!’, but when I ordered my friend an apple juice this one slipped through. Whatever happened to paper drinking straws? Remember them? Yes, they went soggy before you finished your drink, but weren’t they wonderful?

3. The packet of cheese

How on earth did this one slip through the anti-plastic filter? Well I didn’t buy it myself, it was offered at a friend’s house, and it was only after I opened it and helped myself that I realised what I’d done.  To clarify the groundrules, by the way: we can accept unsolicited, unexpected gifts that might be plastic-wrapped, but to accept something shared that is plastic-wrapped is a no-no. Why? Well, it means that it’s used up quicker and a replacement will be bought quicker, so by sharing it I’m helping to send a market signal that says: “Make more plastic, we love it!”.

4. The sneaky sellotape

A cardboard box kept my lovely patisserie tarts safe as I cycled them home. What was the box secured shut with? D’oh!

5. The crisp packet

OK, so this is the one I’ve got absolutely no defence for except ‘Brainfreeze, m’lud’. I went to the bar, I ordered a packet of pickled onion Monster Munch, my mind was elsewhere. Total brainfreeze. This crisp packet has stalked my dreams ever since.

So that, as far as I’m aware, is the entirety of the plastic I’ve bought or helped cause to be bought, in the last two weeks, halfway into the fast. It doesn’t look like much, but there were some silly lapses. What’s your verdict? Is this pile of plastic teeny enough to be impressive considering how much plastic is thrust upon us by consumer capitalism, or do I really need to raise my game over the next two weeks?

Read on for the great toothy tabs experiment…

11 Responses to “My Drastic Plastic Fast part 4: A confessional gallery”

  1. Kerry Lane says:

    I think that’s impressive!

    And the sticky tape might be made from cellulose anyway – sellotape the brand’s stuff is, although others aren’t

    In terms of ale you will just have to drink draught. If you’re finding it hard to find decent ones then check out the CAMRA website for some good places. Also the fat cat in Norwich used to have cartons that you could take a pint home in – not sure if they were plastic lined though…

    Keep going, your doing great and its really interesting. I think it would be a lot more challenging if you werent in London too.

  2. Brian says:

    Well done! Those oversights are minor at worst. Especially given the scale of your endeavour.

    I’m not sure I understand your logic with regards to the shared cheese crisis though. Just because a packet of plastic-wrapped cheese is consumed doesn’t mean that it will necessarily be replaced with another cheese wrapped in plastic.

    Also, because the cheese has been shared doesn’t mean that it’s being consumed less efficiently than if one person had eaten the cheese. Four satisfied cheese filled bellies has the same impact as one satisfied belly filled with cheese four times, especially if the folks you ate the cheese with are also eating cheese on their own. Whether you share the cheese or eat it alone, it will still deliver the same quantity of cheesy satisfaction per piece of plastic packaging. If that makes sense…

    (on a lunch-break and quickly typing, so don’t have time to better phrase all of that…)

    Anyway – well done. This is a pretty awesome project. I’m enjoying reading your posts.

  3. Gavin says:

    Thanks, Brian, I need all the cheerleading I can get! OK, so the thinking behind the cheese-sharing… I realise the logic might seem a bit idiosyncratic! How it arose: in the Otesha office we often share lunches – everyone brings something, we all get a few bites of each. If we haven’t made something we often nip out to get stuff, eg hummus in a plastic pot. So in sharing that I do feel I have equal responsibility for causing it to be bought and for the market signal to be sent that more plastic hummus pots should be made because the demand is there. The same logic extended to my friends’ cheese. Other people doing this challenge might draw the lines in slightly different places, but to me it makes a kind of sense. Anyway, thanks again for the support!

    By the way, there are people out there doing this on a much more ambitious scale – I almost feel a bit pathetic limiting myself to one month!

  4. Gavin says:

    Kerry, your comments have been amazingly helpful. Definitely going to follow up some of your tips. Good to know there are Unpackaged-style places elsewhere. I hear tell of one in Peckham, too, which I’m going to have to check out.

  5. Sue says:

    Well done, you have inspired me to give it a go!

  6. polythenepam says:

    I think you have done so good – when I started boycotting plastic I phased out one product a month and sourced an alternative. To do it all at once!! Big thumbs up.

    But once you get started it gets loads easier dont you find? And its inspiring to see people cutting plastic consumption and sharing ideas. And at the end of the month when you look in your bin and see hardly any rubbish…. truely that is a proud moment.

    Once again well done you.

  7. Linkesh says:

    Awesome!!!! When I saw the headline, I expected a huge list… but this I can count on one hand!

    You’re doing awesome! Have a happy 15 days ahead!

  8. polythenepam says:

    hey where are you? I came back to see what you were up to .. and no new posts. Are you slumped, guilt ridden, in a huge piles of crisp packets and beer bottle tops? Covered in cheese crumbs and smoking tabs? Or am I missing a link somewhere?

  9. Gavin says:

    Ha! Hi Pam. No, not slumped and guilt-ridden, just really busy with work. I fully intend to write (at least) one post reflecting on the plastic fast – how it went, what it revealed. Sometimes blogging slips down the list a little though. Rest assured that although the month is now over, I’m sticking to a great deal of my new habits. I promise to update! Thanks for taking such an interest.

  10. Tom says:

    “Sellotape Original is made using cellulose film derived from wood pulp. The cellulose film decomposes naturally in soil.” Though not all sellotape brands use the same materials i believe

  11. Gavin says:

    Wow, that is brilliant to know. Sellotape Original all the way from here on in.


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