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Category: Zero Waste

Plastic free & minimalism in real life – practical tips and the struggles

Plastic free & minimalism in real life – practical tips and the struggles

I have been so engrossed in the whole journey towards becoming as minimalist as I can be, having as less waste as possible and being as plastic free as possible but I know I am still far off the ideal goal.

What I also know is that there are people who have succeeded and not just for a week, a month or two months but many years. This is what keeps me going.

However that isn’t to say that the struggle isn’t real. Take for example, plastic straws. My little kids use them. It allows them to be independent as that’s what they love at that age but it also helps with less spillage with water and milk but as a family we’ve decided not to buy plastic straws at all now.

Over the last few months I have been searching everywhere for mini mason jars. I had switched to my kids drinking in standard mason jars with handles but they were too big for them. Shot glass versions of these were too small. I couldn’t find loosely sold glass mason jars anywhere in varying sizes. Last week I visited T K Max for something unrelated but then saw a pack of salt and pepper shakers which were the perfect size for my kids to drink from. The problem is, I came home and remembered the packaging is plastic and I won’t have any use for the lids.

We are so used to buying everything in plastic that during the early stages of learning to be plastic free, I may avoid it altogether in a place I’m surrounded by it (supermarkets) but forget in the next shop which is less obvious. However I’ll use this opportunity to email the company to raise awareness.

On the other hand I bought a glass bottle to pour from when out and about. It is a good size, less than a litre and portable. I’ll have to be extra careful when out but I have to carry spare clothes for my kids anyway so it doubles up as padding for the bottle.

I purchased a biscuit dessert to have with the tea from the dessert shop next store. My kids were with me and I shared a little. The plastic cutlery is easily accessible and as there was a really soft caramel layer, they used a spoon. Yes they could eat with their hands as we do this often but it would have been extra messy. I mentioned in a previous post that people ask what to do about crisps as they cannot live without them. My thought was we should step away what we have been driven towards in supermarkets who care about their profits and making money from you. This thought needs to be applied everywhere. Had I been healthy and not bought it, there would have been less of a problem. This is me being totally honest. As of today I won’t buy any and will stick to making it at home but this is the kickstart to us all eating healthily again.


Last night I found myself watching a vlogger on YouTube. It’s not even like I enjoy it so much but it’s like TV, sometimes you just put it on for background noise. It’s funny though, as nowadays I hardly turn the TV on but our phones replace TV with the availability of YouTube.

I found myself feeling so upbeat seeing this rich YouTuber wrapping expensive presents for their family. All the patterned wrapping paper enveloping the surprise inside. I came to the conclusion that it’s unhealthy to watch. In reality I am not taking part in any consumerism during December. If I gift anything to anyone, it is randomly throughout the year. I’m also not the slightest bit interested in expensive presents (ones that cost several hundred pounds each). It did make me thing that others on the same journey as me may struggle to break away from the attraction this time of year brings and which many YouTubers present. Remember, a lot of times they are being sent items for free, or being paid to advertise a product!

I also have no intention of buying wrapping paper ever again.

This brings me to a conversation I had with my mum last night. My mother showed me a picture of a a gift wrapped nicely in cellophane and ribbons and a bow. It did look good. It was someone’s profile picture showing what their place of work did for people who passed their exams. My mum is the person who has always said stay away from plastic bottles so I said to her that cellophane is not a good one either. My mum responded with something like we can’t really get away from this sort of thing and the whole gift experience (the way the gift is presented) really does show appreciation, care etc etc. And I totally get what she meant by it. We had a really good conversation about it. We are led to feel that having a gift wrapped in all these things and embellished with other things (a bow, a tag, a ribbon…) means luxury, thought, care, attention and so on. We can’t just give a gift as it is. No. That is too odd. But if we did that, how would companies make more money from all these extras we purchase?

It is a very slow and hard to explain journey, when it feels like you are nitpicking everything but I’m here and committed for the long run. There is still a lot to learn about but there are so many people sharing their advice online that it does make it that little bit easier.

A True Cost & Blue Planet 2

A True Cost & Blue Planet 2

My journey towards minimalism and eradicating plastic turned into something much bigger after watching the Netflix documentary ‘A True Cost’.

I know I have a small amount of knowledge on all these global issues which affect both people and animals but this was an eye opener.

Learning how leather affects people in India was the first. Leather is treated with chemicals, the liquids dumped in the rivers of India and those who live locally seeing an increase in certain illnesses.

Another was buying certain seeds for crops and the use of fertilisers. In that village in India, kids were born with disabilities.

There is a point where you can’t just say it’s a coincidence. If the people are saying they are seeing an increase in conditions after the introduction of something else, I believe them but nowadays we turn a blind eye to this new found knowledge.

After watching the documentary I really did feel down, depressed I’d say. We went to the local supermarket and it was the first time in ages where we had spent around £10, and not the usual £20, £30 or £40. Looking around, all I could see was plastic, plastic and more plastic. Some things that don’t typically look like plastic but are. Don’t forget crisp packets!

Of course my zeal to learn more and how to find alternatives increased and I joined online groups but many of us were scratching our heads. Clueless. It is really overwhelming.

I noticed a few more documentaries mentioned but I felt so down, I couldn’t bring myself to watch anything else.

Fast forwards a few weeks and I watched the last episode of Blue Planet 2 on BBC. It covers many different areas of how our human habits affect the animals. From plastic in the ocean, to fossil fuels and even boats in the sea! And I felt depressed all over again.

However this depression needs to be turned into something more positive. It is so easy to just give up and go back to old habits but as humans we should act and be responsible, respectable and look after this planet.

What do we start with?

I’ve written about this before, but the first thing I did was have a no plastic rule. That doesn’t mean we have no plastic at all, but having a strong rule encourages us as a family to try everything we can to emit it from our household. And if there’s something we use and don’t know how to replace, then it is always on our minds, joining in conversations on finding alternatives and so on.

In our home we had both plastic and glass storage tubs. Although the glass ones have silicone lids (still plastic!). As throwing away plastic tubs and bottles is also wasteful, I passed them on to someone else who could use them or may not have much money and could use them. This was also part of our minimalism journey so made sense to us. We already had glass mason jars, so we drink from those instead of using plastic bottles.

On the other hand, although we use reusable bags for shopping, we didn’t have a solution for bin bags at home for the household waste. The aim is to work towards having almost no waste. This is a journey in itself but there are plenty of resources online we can learn from.

And the rest?

I have seen this mentioned a lot. Many wonder, where do I now buy crisps from? Where do I buy this from, or that from?

The problem here is with us humans. Remember, we’ve been fed into this buying and eating culture where we need snacks, we need to eat till our stomachs are full, we need to buy buy buy. This is for the benefit of the huge stores that sell this stuff, who need their profits. We don’t actually need extras. Actually, our bodies feel much better when we don’t eat till we’re full and eat clean. And there are alternatives, such as nuts, certain loose fruits and also making them at home.

This is a journey of giving up extras and being satisfied with less. It isn’t just about using less plastic, changing to renewable energy and avoiding boat journeys. This is in a way, tied into minimalism. Having less, eating less (but enough to fuel your body), gives more time to do things that you truly enjoy.

It is a journey where learning is at the very front. Oh how I thought leather bags were fine to buy, as long as animals lived a life where they were free to roam and fed well. I am not a vegetarian but I believe in animals not being used to test products. But now I know this translates into other areas like bags too, even traveller notebook covers!

At the end of the day, if you got this far, you know you’re not alone. We are in this together. We can campaign together, we can email companies about how they need to work towards less plastic, we can buy less so these stores do feel affected and we need to stand up against consumerism, not just in terms of goods but even food.

Feel empowered with the new found knowledge. We can help the planet be a little bit better. This is the start of the journey for me and I will post more as I learn. I may make mistakes but I hope I will be able to learn from you too.