I started my new job this week and wanted to find ways to avoid those habits it's so easy to fall into, especially when it comes to lunchtimes. So I started with what I do normally, which is carry a water bottle and collapsible coffee cup around, as well as some travel utensils. I try to drink more water anyway for all the usual reasons so this is definitely a win-win for me.
To get some more ideas, I asked the lovely #Unfrench community what they did to reduce plastic use and their impact on the environment, at work and at home. This is something I talk about a lot, whether it's with the admin team, my friends, or my colleagues. Anyone that follows my personal blog will have seen this come up too.
So what tips did the #Unfrench community have for me?
1. Buy used where possible
There used to be negative connotations attached to buying second hand things. I remember hating charity shops as a child because they smelt musty and didn't seem "cool". Now, I love them. France is full of lovely brick-a-brack shops but charity shops don't seem so common. It's much harder to find some great clothes at a bargain price, for example. I make the most of them when I'm back in the UK now. Facebook marketplace is also a great way to find used furniture, jewellery, cars, cookware. The list goes on!
2. Choose products carefully
Luckily fruit and veg is often sold loose in France, in supermarkets and markets. If what you want to buy isn't loose, choose packaging with as little plastic as possible and leave the wrappers at the till. Supermarkets will soon find other packaging options if they have to deal with it themselves! Careful choices can also be made when it comes to other things. For example, buy clothing that isn't full of microplastics, and choose quality items you can wear over and over.
3. Get rid of cling film
This seemed a popular one among the #Unfrench. It just doesn't seem necessary anymore! Beeswax wrappers can be used to wrap and cover food, or put things in reusable boxes instead of plastic covered bowls. When microwaving food, cover it with a plate rather than cling film. I also have reusable silicone bags which are great for freezing food without taking up much space in the freezer (this is important if your freezer is the same size as mine!).
4. Reusable (or no) straw
The use of straws seems to have become ingrained in us. They're used in restaurants, bars, fast food outlets, drink cartons. But it isn't actually necessary to use one at all. You can just drink directly from the cup! If you prefer to drink from a straw, use a steel one. Lots of them are sold with a pipe cleaner for an easy and hygienic life.
5. Bring your own lunch
It's almost impossible to avoid plastic when it comes to takeaway lunches, so bringing your own is perhaps the only way to limit plastic use. Get a selection of containers so you can vary your lunch while making it easy to carry round without leaking! For example, a box for sandwiches or salads, a bento box for a picnic lunch and something for soups and stews will cover most eventualities.
Please feel free to keep sharing any other #plasticfree tips you've got!