We are now 6 weeks into the no plastic challenge we have set ourselves and it feels like we’ve found a rhythm. We have become accustomed to shopping in places where we can avoid plastic, we know the brands we can buy to avoid inadvertent polymer purchase.
There have been plenty of slip-ups, mistakes, and desperate compromises. Just last weekend we found ourselves chilled, hungry and tired on Longsands beach at Tynemouth without any lunch and ended up choosing to buy chips that came in polystyrene boxes! It didn’t feel good, but we could at least contrast the sad pile of unnecessary waste with the very small amount of plastic that we are buying on a weekly basis.
Being prepared and planning ahead are key. Its always been useful when out and about with the kids to have several snacks to hand, but it becomes especially important to have something prepared when we are denying ourselves the opportunity to pop into the nearest shop for some plastic-wrapped morsels.
Bakeries are our friends. We can pop in at a moment’s notice and grab a bakery item in a paper bag to stave off a child’s hunger for a while. Best though is when we leave the house with snacks prepared in advance. Apples, bananas and carrots are all very well and some of our favourite snack things, but even more guaranteed to make a bus journey scream-free are these biscuits:
125g plain flour
100g medium oatmeal/porridge oats
100g light brown soft sugar
50g desiccated coconut
100g unsalted butter, cubed
1 tbsp golden syrup or honey
Half a teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon boiling water
Preheat oven to 170 centigrade. Mix flour, oatmeal, sugar and coconut thoroughly in a large mixing bowl. Melt butter and syrup/honey in a small pan. Meanwhile put bicarb in a cup and pour on the boiling water to dissolve. Stir bicarb into butter mixture; it will froth up. Mix frothy liquid into bowl of dry ingredients to make a stiff dough. Place tablespoons of mixture onto a baking paper-lined tray and flatten with a fork. Bake for 15-20 mins or until brown (best to keep an eye as they don’t take long to be ready).
When we started this experiment I had my doubts about how we would get the milk we wanted. It seemed to be a choice between organic cows milk in plastic bottles, or oat/coconut/soya milk in a plastic-lined tetra pack, or milk delivered in a glass bottle by the local milkman. Obviously only the third option fits with the no-plastic thing, but I was very uncomfortable with buying milk from a “conventional” dairy, both because I know that organic certification demands a higher level of welfare for the cows, and because I know that “non-organic” milk can have all sorts of nonsense that we’d rather avoid putting into our bodies.
Luckily, Rachel decided to think outside the box and got in touch with Wheelbirks dairy in Stocksfield, where we knew from friends that “raw” unpasteurised milk was available to buy. She made no small effort to arrange for milk to be bottled in glass bottles at the dairy, and delivered to a central point in Newcastle where it could be picked up by the other members of the milk-coop. Between us we have been ordering around 50 litres of milk per week, which means that between 25 and 50 plastic milk bottles which would otherwise have been used have been avoided.
Best of all we get to have the most delicious milk that I have ever tasted. It’s fresh, creamy, a delightful shade of beige, and really tastes like it is straight from the udder.