A No-Plastic Lent, from Isla Blair

How was my no plastic Lent?

I would like to say that I did not consume any plastic for the 40 days of Lent (14th February to 29th March), but I cannot. However, the experience has been useful in many ways and the beginning of that has been more awareness of how much plastic is part of our consumerism! Food shopping was extremely difficult and I could not avoid all plastic. Staples, like milk, bread, cheese are all contained in plastic; but I did manage to reduce it. I couldn’t do anything about milk cartons, but I did get wonderful bread from George’s Blackwaterfoot Bakery which is in a paper bag; and when I did, eventually, want some cheese, I bought a large Arran block, so it reduced the amount of plastic.

Meat was off limits for most of the time; which was easy for me as a veggie but my son missed it eventually, so I gave in a few times. Being a vegetarian was difficult also, because most fruit and veg are in plastic wrapping. I am lucky to be on the mainland every week and could get to the green grocers (Dino & Bros) in the pedestrian street in Saltcoats. It’s amazing that a small green grocers has survived and most of the produce is loose, so I can buy what I need. They did bag up some things, like Brussel sprouts, in plastic bags, for customer convenience and when I wondered about paper bags instead, the shop worker explained that the cost of paper bags is four times dearer than the plastic ones! They do have paper bags for mushrooms and I was very thankful for this. Maybe concerted efforts can change this? Lets all start craving paper bags and loose fruit and veg and business will respond to consumer ‘needs’…maybe.

Obviously my main shop is in the Brodick Co-op and, like all supermarkets, food is over packaged, more and more. I know there will be smaller businesses on the island (bakers, butchers, cheese shops, veg boxes, village shops etc…) which have less packaging and that’s hopeful and helpful. So thank you!

Now that Lent is over I am going to keep reducing plastic. It feels like a right thing to do. And when I do buy any non-reusable plastic I can compensate it by picking up litter when I walk on the beach. I used to do this regularly, but then fell away from it. I have started again and here’s what can be collected in half an hour. It’s a mindfulness exercise that has loads of benefits and may plastic continue to reduce.