A Week Without Plastic: Matt’s Story

A Week Without Plastic: Matt’s Story

As we usually do with this series, we begin with the preparations made before the week began. Matt prioritised meal prep:

“I tried to keep all of my meal prep for the coming week simple, hoping that I wouldn’t need to rely on a lot of ingredients, and by doing so reducing the amount of plastic I had to use. There’s a great little zero waste shop in Leeds, where I bought most of my ingredients. You weigh the amount of a product you want out into a reusable container and then just pay for the product by weight. It’s a really great initiative and I encourage anyone to check it out if they live near Leeds, or if they have a similar shop where they live.”

 

Cat difficulties

Next, we asked Matt what the first thing was he noticed when he started the week: “Admittedly pretty much every room in my house relies on plastic some way, there’s no way around it. I have a cat as well, it’s really hard to be plastic free with a cat I found, a lot of their food relies on plastic in some way. Horatio also has some dietary requirements, which means we’re limited to the type of food we can give him, most of the stuff he likes comes in plastic and foil packaging.”

We asked what the most challenging thing was on the first day for Matt he said everything, well almost: “The overwhelming nature of the challenge was what hit me really, we rely on plastic so much and it’s difficult to move away from. I do try to recycle everything I can, and my lunch routine has a relatively low environmental impact. I have Huel every day which is vegan and uses no packaging other than a reusable shaker.”

Zero waste shop to the rescue

On things Matt had to give up on entirely: “Sauces! When planning my meals for the week in advance, I found that the worst offending items were sauces, the easy solution was to make everything from scratch using veg from the market and other ingredients from the zero waste shop.”

On changes to his daily routine: “Other than changing my diet for the week I used a lovely shampoo bar instead of the usual stuff out of a plastic container. The amount of plastic packaging I used for my meals also drastically reduced, and I definitely ate healthier for it, which was a win in itself!”

 

The old cliché

The most surprising thing Matt learned was probably not that much of a surprise to anyone: “I know it sounds like a cliché, but just the sheer amount of plastic that’s embedded into our everyday lives is astronomical. Though on the upside, there’s a surprisingly high number of solutions and initiatives that are now out there regarding the plastic problem. From zero waste shops to how-to guides online, people are genuinely waking up.”

When asking Matt what was the hardest thing to avoid, his admission led to wider concerns: “Pretty much everything relating to the damn cat! His litter tray, food packaging, toys! He’d have a hard time living a plastic-free existence. It did leave me thinking how much pressure our pets put on the environment, and what damage the pet food and general pet industry does to the planet. Quite a lot I’d wager.”

Next, we asked Matt if he had any slip-ups at all: “I think from the outset I didn’t expect to be able to go completely plastic free, with the cat, his dietary requirements and the huge reliance we have on plastic in day-to-day life. In my defence, I do actively recycle and have a lunchtime routine which has a really low environmental impact, I also carpool to work as well! And that was before the plastic-free week.”

Wrapping up

To wrap up, we asked Matt how his experience was overall: “Eye-opening, as you might expect. Until you actually think about it you don’t realise just how much plastic we use and rely on every day. It is good to see that there are already many initiatives out there to help people with their plastic usage, which was comforting. But of course, we need to be more aware and do much more about the problem.”


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