A Week Without Plastic: Luke's Story
How did our intern Luke deal with a whole week without using plastic? He told us about his experience for our blog.
Luke’s been at EcoVibe on a work experience placement for the past month. He’s helped us launch our site, source products and runs our social media accounts. But from day one, Luke has promised us that he would attempt a totally plastic-free week during his placement.
At long last, it’s finally happened. And it teaches us all a thing or two about the challenge we face to clean up our planet.
1. The Weekend Before
The first plastic-free day might have been Monday, but preparation started the weekend before.
‘I realised that if I was going to do this properly, I would need to get all the plastic I would use daily out of the house. So, I needed to replace plastic items with alternatives, take any plastic I would normally use to the recycling centre and get all the prep done.’
Luke doesn’t drive, so getting to the recycling centre involved braving a crowded bus with a suitcase filled with plastic.
‘I had to look pretty closely to see what could and couldn’t be brought. In the end, I brought shampoo and shower wash bottles, a tub of butter, some pop bottles and a few other things. I couldn’t take my toothbrush and I wasn’t sure about bleach bottles’
He’d already made healthy use of his EcoVibe staff discount. He ordered a shampoo bar, a bamboo toothbrush, solid toothpaste and some bamboo cotton buds. He was almost ready to start
‘You don’t realise just how much plastic you’re surrounded by until you try to cut it out’, says Luke. ‘For instance, I had a problem almost as soon as I got up on the Monday morning. What was I going to bring my lunch in to work with? I obviously couldn’t use clingfilm to wrap it up.’
He used greaseproof paper in the end, bringing it with him in a tote bag. There were also some things Luke needed clarification on.
‘Could I use my bank card? What about plastic cash? How extreme did this have to be?’
In the end, we allowed him to use his card and cash. But it was a close call!
His morning routine remained largely the same throughout the week. He’d phased plastic out of his preparations and was enjoying it.
‘This part was the easiest’, he says. ‘It was good to have everything I needed to begin with’
3. At the Office
Luke loves the local market. At lunch time, he’ll often go over and buy a big bag of broccoli or other greens to take home for his dinner. He had to make some adjustments this week, however, as the plastic bags that the veg normally comes in would have to go. The greens went into his tote bag.
‘I find it unbelievable that supermarkets continue to wrap their vegetables in plastic. If you buy broccoli at the big supermarkets, each individual broccoli is wrapped in plastic. What’s the point?’
At least when he goes to the local market he can cut plastic out! There’s also a new zero-waste stall in the market (Leeds, Kirkgate) – perfect for a plastic-free week!
But the office environment also posed some problems for Luke. For one thing, biros were out of the question. There’d be no morning coffee on the way in to work either, unless he brought a reusable cup, and he could forget about gossiping over the water cooler in our building. That was also strictly off limits.
‘I couldn’t get a snack from the vending machine in our building, I couldn’t buy a yoghurt from the shop, I couldn’t use the new notebook I have as it has a plastic wrapper. Once you start to look at the wider picture, you see just how much of this stuff there is.’
Poor Luke couldn’t unwind from the daily grind with a bottle or can of beer (plastic can binders, plastic on the inside of bottle tops), nor could he get a tub of ice cream, a ready meal, a takeaway, or a packet of balloons to celebrate his birthday (sorry, Luke…). So, he was back to the basics of reading a book.
‘I read a book called The Drowned World by JG Ballard. It’s basically about global warming but was written over 50 years ago. I felt like it was a decent one to pick for the week.’
The hardest thing of all for Luke to stop for the week, however, was smoking. Luke couldn’t buy any cigarettes all week – though he’s been meaning to quit for a while. How successful was he?
‘I almost cracked. It got to Wednesday and I was so close to going out and buying some, but I managed to stop myself. I’m so glad because I haven’t smoked since!’
Well, if there’s one thing we can all feel quite positive about it’s this!
Luke doesn’t have any children and lives alone, so it was relatively simple for him to make the switch in comparison to others. He tells us he didn’t use plastic all week, and we’re willing to believe him. But if there’s one thing this demonstrates, it’s that it is possible for us to dramatically decrease our reliance on plastic simply through keeping it in mind, reducing consumption and finding alternatives. And that’s what EcoVibe is all about!