The Mum and Single Use Plastics Challenges

I have been on a mission this month to try and assess just how easy or difficult it is to be a mum with a baby and attempt to do my bit in reducing single use plastics in my household.

I had set myself some criteria to make sure that I was consistent in my experiment:

  1. Shop as I usually would at the places I would normally shop

  2. Try to purchase only the items I would normally buy without making too many substitutions

  3. Be more consciously aware of items I don’t NEED to buy that are usually in single use plastic coverings

In reality, the easiest way to shop is to go to a supermarket, with everything under one roof. Only having to get your children out and back into the car once, make one payment and be done and home within the hour. Let’s face it, nobody really enjoys doing the weekly shop!

Starting at the fruit and veg, I thought this would be the place where the most variety might be without me having to consider the packaging. Most veg don’t need to be in packaging since they are generally well protected with their own skins as are quite a lot of fruits. Unfortunately, I was gravely mistaken. Out of my normal shop of regular items that I would by in the fruit and veg section, I could barely get anything! The loose items, apart from perhaps a couple of other root veg like parsnips and carrots, offered very poor options.

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This image represents basically the fruit and veg I came home with that first week to feed my family. I was really disappointed after being so excited about doing my bit for the environment and the war on plastic!

Every shop, I still do my best but am aware that I am limiting my family to the types of goodness they are consuming within their meals now. Other than driving around to farm shops and multiple smaller stores, using more fuel, time and energy, I am at a bit of a loss.

Then onward to the rest of the shop, I had almost given up. Even when selecting meat, I went to the meat counter but then they wrap everything in plastic too! So no joy there. Continuing through the supermarket I found that actually EVERYTHING that wasn’t in a tin was in some sort of single use plastic wrapping. Although it does have its place in some respects, it is just everywhere.

I found myself getting quite irritated and gutted that even in my best efforts to take my time and fish through all the items in the supermarket, I just struggled from start to finish.

We haven’t even spoken about the ‘baby aisle’ yet which lets face it is 100% plastic everywhere! There is literally no option but to add your contribution to plastic consumption if you have any children still in nappies or weaning.

I do make a lot of fresh food for my son and give him fruit and home made muffins for snacks but I also always have a back-up stash of pre-made weaning snacks for when I don’t have time or forget to make something. This is basically a drawer full of plastic!

What can we do? How can we make our collective voices loud enough to tell supermarkets that we consume what THEY provide to us!? Is it really the demand from the consumer that makes us crave this wasteful lifestyle or is it that we buy what is provided??

As mums who are already frazzled with 101 jobs to do each day, we don’t want this war, we just want to pop to the supermarket to get the things we need without having to work so hard in order to also try be better people for our planet. Come on supermarkets, throw us a bone and hear our voices!!

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