Ahead of the Southwark Green Party discussion about plastic with Plastic Free Peckham, I have been thinking about my own use of plastic. My main weekly veg shop comes thanks to Local Greens – a not-for-profit veg bag scheme. I pick it up on Thursday evenings on the way home from work, from a shed in the beer garden of my local pub (other collection points are available!). I like that the fruit and veg is sourced from farms as close to London as possible, and the system of collection points means fewer delivery van trips are required. Local Greens use reusable bags; some of the herbs and salad greens inside are packed in paper bags, but some are in plastic.
I do pick up other fresh fruit that can’t be grown near London – citrus fruits, bananas – from supermarkets, but the vegetables usually cover my main meals for the week. This week, the bag included pak choi, purple sprouting broccoli and rocket, as well as carrots, parsnips and onions.
In the bathroom, I’ve got toothpaste in a jar and silk dental floss from Anything But Plastic – the floss is a revelation, being softer and more effective than the plastic version. There’s a bar of soap and a shampoo bar from Lush instead of shampoo in a plastic bottle. Refills of detergent, washing up liquid and surface cleaner come from Karavan Eco on Lordship Lane.
Bartley Shaw, a Nunhead resident, set up a hyper-local refill scheme with his neighbours that also had the benefit of bringing people together as a community: ‘Already, neighbours are positive about what else we can do and acknowledge the real benefits of such a simple shift in how we behave’.
And I’ve got a waterbottle, a reusable coffee cup and a spork for the work bag.
I haven’t tried to go plastic-free all at once, as Amelia Womack did (as she discusses with Jenny Jones in this great podcast about fast fashion and plastic). I’ve just tried to swap things over little by little – and once you’ve found an alternative that works, it’s easy to stick with it.
But I still end up with a bin full of this sort of flimsy food packaging that can’t even go into the recycling.
I’m doing away with some of this by doing a monthly shop for staples with the Naked Larder in Herne Hill. You put in an order in advance and the stocks are ordered in bulk for people to weigh out themselves. The quality is really good and it’s just a ten-minute cycle from home. Other local plastic-free shops include Bring Your Own in Nunhead who will be at the Southwark Greens social on Thursday.
But I’m still collecting ideas for low-stress alternatives to plastic-wrapped SNACKS (i.e. falling upon a packet of crisps when too hungry to think straight). On days when I’m organised, I manage to bring some almonds and dried apricots in a plastic pot. And yesterday my colleague produced these amazing home-made date and fruit snacks in reusable pot….