Less Plastic Going Out Kit

P is for Plastic: Plan Ahead

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The second in our new ‘P is for Plastic’ series written by guest blogger, Fiona Barker, who will be regularly sharing her experiences and insights gained by living with less plastic.

This month I’ve been thinking about… Planning ahead.

I can hear a collective groan at the very thought of being organised and planning ahead. What about the joy of spontaneity? The fun of living an impulsive, impetuous, impromptu life?

Don’t worry, there’s still room for a bit of spur of the moment excitement but if you’re trying to reduce your use of single-use plastic then just a little bit of planning ahead can be very helpful.

I’m going to give you two examples of where we have found it useful to do some planning.

The first is when buying food. It is a sad fact that easy access to low plastic choices is still limited in most supermarkets. This means that doing the weekly shop needs a bit more planning.

I live pretty much right next to a supermarket but I find that I need to shop elsewhere to get things with less plastic. This necessitates an almost military level of planning around my day job and when the various other shops are open.

I use a greengrocers which operates from a local garden centre twice a week so I have to plan to fit in a trip when they’re there. I’m lucky enough to live close to an independent old-fashioned baker but they’re only open in the mornings. Because I can’t just pop in when I need something, I also need to plan what we’re going to eat in advance.

I’ll admit now that I’m completely hopeless at being organised enough to do this. This is definitely a case of ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ But it’s a goal! If anyone has any tips on how to achieve it, I’m all ears! We frequently have slightly random meals of everything that is left over so we don’t throw too much away.

Leaving the extremely-convenient-but-awash-with-plastic supermarket behind, I also travel to a cooperative shop about once a month to buy dry goods like pasta and rice by weight. I love my trips to the coop which is run entirely by wonderful volunteers but it does require more planning. I keep a running shopping list on a blackboard in the kitchen so I can keep track of what we need on my next trip.

Planning ahead is also something that comes into play when I am going out for the day. Wearying and hungry experience has taught me that it is never possible to guarantee access to a plastic-free drink, meal or snack.

This means that I have a Day Out Kit consisting of a stainless steel flask, a bamboo spork and some sort of container for food. My kit is ready to go in a canvas bag in case I have an attack of spontaneity (and, yes, I know the bag needs a wash!).

The flasks that are available now are a revelation! They genuinely keep drinks hot for 12 hours and in the summer it is bliss to carry an ice cold drink with you.

If you really want to be sure of a plastic free lunch then the only certain option is to pack one yourself. This does require extra planning ahead but the payoff is that your lunch is probably going to be much more delicious than one you could buy and you won’t need to queue to get it.

Plus, you can save up all the money you would have spent on lunch and coffee and buy yourself a plastic-free treat of your choice!

I find this makes me feel much better about planning ahead!

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Fiona Barker

Dr Fiona Barker is a clinical and behavioural scientist. She is interested in how children and adults interact with the natural world and is an active supporter of The Wildlife Trust and the Marine Conservation Society. She also writes picture books, often with an outdoor theme. You can find her on Twitter, and Instagram where she mostly posts about using more books and less plastic. Fiona’s website of mostly bookish adventures can be found at www.fionabarker.co.uk.

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