As I walked past the bus stop I laughed derisively like a bellend. Why? Well, at first it was because I was listening to a downloaded comedy show, but then it was because I saw something even funnier.
Now, because I recently dropped my phone in the toilet, the zoom doesn't work properly any more, so you'll have to imagine how it looked. But, basically, it was an advert for bottled water, capped off with the slogan 'turns out you can buy good taste'.
This is wrong for many reasons. One, have you ever seen Robbie Savage's garms? The man is loaded, yet still goes out looking like that. Secondly, water is a tasteless mineral. I couldn't give a fish's tit what artisan waterologists (or whatever the hell they're calling themselves these days) have to say.
Plastic water bottles
But bottled water is big business - bigger even than soft drinks as of 2016. It's worth billions, as a commodity that many of us buy daily.
You may already be aware of the 'Great Pacific garbage patch' - a mass of plastic waste floating in the ocean, cumulatively the size of France. You may also be aware of LADbible's campaign to have this monstrosity declared as a country in its own right - the Trash Isles - with a view to having the area cleaned up according to UN charters.
Bearing in mind all of the above (well, maybe the comedy download gets a free pass), I decided to test how reliant on plastic our lives currently are, by trying to live without it for a whole week - so here's my diary, documenting how I got on...
(Clue: not well).
Sort of get away without using plastic. I have oats for breakfast which I keep in a glass jar. That said, they were originally bought in plastic-packaging from the supermarket. Sort-of win, sort-of fail.
After going to the gym (full of plastic handles and plastic-coated weights), I decide to have a shower, a post-exercise tradition I like to keep up. To my horror, the shampoo bottle is plastic AF.
It turns out plastic chairs and tables are a pain in the arse
I get through the rest of the day's activities/meals without going plastic, for three reasons. One, I'm not in a hurry because I haven't been on the Tube, which is hell on earth. Two, this gives me time to walk down to a local grocery store with fresh fruit and veg and everything, where I buy all the shizzle I need for tea without needing a plastic bag. Three, I don't use a plastic bag.
After dinner, I play seven-a-side football, where I score four worldies, a thunderbastard (basically a really hard shot from far out) and three bicycle kicks while wearing plastic covered astro turf boots, on a plastic pitch. Only the last bit of that sentence is true.
Working in an office. Take a packed lunch with me in a (plastic) tupperware box. It's either that or carry a plate covered in tin foil on the 8.35 from Archway station. This would be a bigger disaster than Anchorman 2.
As a member of the urban elite (well, I live in London), I'm duty bound to get coffee before work, so I drop in at a well-known coffee chain. I realise they only serve in paper cups (coated in plastic, with plastic lids), even if you're drinking in. Thankfully, there's a branch of a different chain down the road, which has proper cups.
I buy chicken on the way home from my local butcher's and refuse a plastic bag as I have a bag with me. However, the chicken itself comes wrapped in cellophane and styrofoam - the environmental equivalent of taking a dump on your neighbour's front lawn.
I manage to avoid plastics for the rest of the evening, unless you count the plastic in my sports shoes when I go boxing, the plastic fibres likely found in my clothes, the various bits of plastic used to bind the gym mats and the condom in my wallet, which remains (thankfully on this occasion) unused throughout the class.
Same coffee issues as yesterday - fuck you, Unnamed Coffee Chain #1. I forgo both boxing and chicken in the evening, opting instead for a badass sandwich followed by even badasser pints. No plastics.
Trash Isles laptops
Plastic tables, chairs and laptops also prove a bit of an issue
Well, except for the tap covers in the pub. Oh, and I also used my debit card to get to and from work, something I didn't think about on Tuesday at all. Fuck.
I get to lunch without going near plastics, a task made easier by the fact I'm working from home and haven't left my room for hours. Turns out to be a very good way to avoid plastics, but also a good way to go slightly insane.
Walk to a local cafe in the afternoon and have two coffees before buying supplies for dinner and tomorrow's breakfast. I get bananas in a nice paper bag and some chicken, again wrapped in cellophane and packaged in styrofoam. Fuck, times two.
banana and meat
Mind you, it turns out going to a local organic fruit and veg shop is a good way to avoid getting fruit and veg in unnecessary packaging. Unfortunately, you need to have a local fruit and veg store in your hometown to do this. You also need to have the time to go and buy said items, which I did because I was working from home.
All meat seems to come in some form of plastic, which begs the question: how did people package meat in the past? I am genuinely flummoxed.
Forget my packed lunch, so I go to an ostensibly healthier fast food joint where the only option (save for using my already grubby little hands) is to use a plastic knife and fork. I tuck in. Food's good, cutlery less so.
Credit: Carly Sheil (Creative Commons)
After a day tapping away at my keyboard, I hit a pub in the town centre, then another, enjoying six lovely, lovely beers. Plastic use limited. Kind of a win.
A combination of carrying around a bag with me and enjoying a diet of restaurant/fast food, lots of coffee and a fair bit of beer means I don't use too much plastic over the course of the weekend, except for my debit card.
However, when I think about it, a lot of what I've had/done will have been packaged in plastic at some point, so my pat-on-the-back mentality is most probably a load of old bollocks.
Living without plastic is extremely hard at the best of times. For the average person, it's made harder by a lack of access to shops that don't go overboard on the plastic to lower their bottom lines, the need for convenience in an overworked population and a gradual decline in non-plastic packaging.
However, a couple of things I learned over the course of the week (aside from the fact that ham, egg'n'chips is a badass sandwich filling):
1. Carrying a plastic bag or two around with you is a good idea, as it stops you constantly picking them up every time you go to a shop.
2. If you have the time, local stores are much better when it comes to not over-packaging products for the sake of convenience.
LADbible has claimed the world's first country made entirely of trash to highlight the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans.
Get involved and ensure the world's first country made of trash is its last.