Blog 14th February 2018: Lent Without Plastic at the Deanery

14th Feb 2018
News category

A Blog written by the Dean & Mrs Waine (Stephen & Lizzie) who are trying to live without single use plastic at the Deanery during Lent.

It's all about the P's!

Wednesday 14th February 2018:

This blog describes our mission to discover whether it is possible for the Deanery to be single use plastic free during Lent and beyond.  The Blue Planet II television series is responsible for our decision; no one could have failed to be moved when albatross chicks were fed plastic bags by their unsuspecting parents or a statistic that one in three turtles have ingested plastic.

DEFRA has reported that UK households produce an average of 56kg of plastic packaging waste a year - so why are we not reducing or recycling more?  To understand what plastics are classifed as single use, we took to the internet and made some shocking discoveries.  Much of the plastic we use in the UK ends up in the landfill.  This is either because it is currently not possible to recyle, individuals don't take it to be recycled or local authorities don't accept it.

Plastic means mouldable - so clay and wax could properly be defined as plastic - but these days the word tends to mean synthetic polymers made from oil.  There are more than 50 different types of plastic, but six common types have been given codes which help identify them for recycling.  There is a seventh category for "other" plastics.  Click here to read more about the seven types of plastic.

We soon came to the conclusion that recycling is fraught with difficulty and that actually it's not just about single use plastic it's better to reduce ALL plastic, full stop.

Plastic pollution in the sea

Researchers at the Scottish Association for Marine Science sampled creatures off the Western Isles and a staggering 48% of them were found with plastic in them, at depths of up to 2,000m.  These plastics consisted of polyethylene and polyester (found in plastic shopping bags and clothing).  Polyester fibres can reach the seas in waste water from washing machines and to add to the problem, many household and cosmetic products contain tiny pieces of plastic, known as microbeads or microplastics.  These plastics are washed down the drain when you brush your teeth, scrub your face or clean the house and can end up in our oceans as they are too small to be caught in any water filtration systems.  Plastic microbeads can no longer be used in cosmetics and personal care products in the UK, after a long-promised ban came into effect in January 2018.  The ban initially bars the manufacture of such products and a ban on sales will follow in July.

We've downloaded a great app on our iPhone called "Beat the Bead" - the app scans barcodes on household and cosmetic products, checking whether they contain these harmful plastics, if they do then we won't be buying.

What a great sight to greet Ash Wednesday!  First change in the Deanery - no more plastic milk bottles.  Ron the milkman will deliver milk in glass bottles three times a week.

Second change - almost 160 million teabags are scalded, squeezed and thrown away every day in the UK and almost all are made with ony 70/80% paper fibre, the remaining packaging includes plastic which is not fully biodegradable.

The company 'Teapigs' has just announced a new packaging.  Their bags are now made of corn-starch, no plastic and are therefore fully biodegradable.  Whilst they look excellent, especially their lovely tins, we are not sure how economical this will be - bearing in mind the full flow of people through the Deanery, therefore we will experiment with loose tea to start with.

Third change - the toothpaste is running low, we were tempted to stock pile last week until we read about microbeads and that most toothpaste tubes cannot be recycled.  So see below our new toothpaste - in a recyclable glass jar.  We'll let you know how we get on!

Another dilemma: The Ethical Consumer Research Association says that we spend about £1billion a year in the UK on cleaning products.  Cleaning products tend to come in plastic bottles of some sort - most of the ones under the Deanery kitchen sink are category 2 HDPE, but we found some great information about using natural products - vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and citric acid or lemons.  With just these few simple items you can clean, scour, descale and odorise your loos, baths, tiles, ovens, work surfaces, sinks, windows, shower doors, mirrors and more.  And they are readily available to buy in shops or online and packaged in paper bags.  And, of course, all these ingredients are used in food production so if we can eat them they're clearly not bad for the environment!

Four changes for one day - we are under no illusion that food shopping will be potentially the hardest part, particularly in the supermarket.  We have stocked up on brown parchment paper and paper bags to use for the cheese, fish, meat etc and will challenge whoever serves us to wrap it in our own packaging.  Thankfully Chichester has a wonderful Farmers Market on the 1st and 3rd Friday each month and a weekly market on Wednesdays, where all the traders are happy to pop produce direct into paper/fabric bags, and talking about Markets, it's time to shop for supper.

Log on next Monday 19th when we will report on our progress - Stephen and Lizzie Waine.

16th February - We are delighted to hear that the Church of England has issued a list to encourage all to live Lent without plastic, click here for further details. There is also an excellent article in The Times 'Deliver us from the evil of plastic this Lent'

14th Feb 2018
News category