Emma: my day without plastics…

I have set myself the challenge of going an entire day without plastics, not using them, not touching them, at all!


07.23 The bathroom

I’m awake. And ready for a day without plastics. To be honest I havent slept that well for the past few hours, disturbed by odd dreams involving a never ending march of plastic items. I exited the bed pretty sharpish as any mattress that uncomfortable is not stuffed with natural fibres.I’m pleased to see I can wear my 100% cotton dressing gown and head to the bathroom. I can’t put the light on but I manage to overcome my number one worry of the day with the good old art of squatting. I am neither touching or benefiting from the plastic toilet seat. Looking at the plastic shower base and all the product bottles it’s quite clear most sorts of washing are out. I check the towel- 100% cotton again. Water and a wet towel it is then.

Breakfast - sorry for the poor quality photo I still can't turn the lights on!

07.37 The kitchen

I’m contemplating the kitchen. I should be in the gym right now for day 2 of my new fitness routine but looking and my plastic membership card and thinking about trainers and lycra I know it’s a no go. So I’m breaking my habit of eating at my desk to see what we have at home.

My forage has turned up an orange, a banana and the last home made biscuit (sorry housemates!). With bread cereal and the fridge out of bounds I’m limited on options.

08.00 My phone

It has dawned on me that two things are going to considerably slow me down today: trying to avoid plastics, and writing about it. Which brings me onto the point I know everyone will raise- my phone. I know however beautifully designed it is, my iPhone is essentially made of plastic. In my first idea for this challenge when I was going to write it up afterwards I would have left my rule breaking phone behind. Something that would be an enlightening challenge in itself. However, as I’ve promised constant updates I see no other choice. So this is the only willing exception I’m making.

As a compromise I have taken the plastic cover off the phone. I must not drop it!

08.14 My underwear draw

Not normally something I would share with the world at large and luckily for me (as I can’t use the plastic blind chord) still too dark for a proper picture. I have looked at the label of everything in here and there is nothing I can wear. I even desperately looked up elastane on my complete guide to plastics just to be sure.

The rest of my outfit I’ve had more luck with:
Trousers- one pair of work trousers are 100% cotton (yes there is one plastic button but I am dutifully neither touching or using it)
Vest- unfortunately my only elastane free vest is rather stripy
Top- all shirts were out but my latest favourite vintage buy is 100% wool.

I am largely dressed but with limited options and no hair products I look more like a boy than usual.

Next step: socks, shoes, coat.

08.42 Finishing touches

What to wear?! My shoe collection seems to be a plastic minefield...

Bag – my initial excitement at the site of my normal leather work bag faded when I remembered that I’d been plagued with guilt by concerns of the leather industry and it was actually made from fake- plastic- leather. I found a rucksack that assures me it’s made from 100% cotton and real leather. Having realised I can’t actually take most of the contents of my bag with me I’m not sure what I’m using it for.

Coat – a wealth of polyester and viscous in even the most promising of items. I’ve settled for a large blue zip up hoodie which is not helping me look less like a boy.

Hat and scarf – another 2 wool items from the vintage shop, I now look like a 6 year old boy.

Shoes – this was the hardest. Especially as nothing seems to be labelled. I have settled on some winter boots that are leather and wool lined with what seemed to be the most likely of all the options for real rubber soles. Fingers crossed.

08.59 Transport

Looking at my plastic oyster card it’s clear options are limited. I could get a paper ticket but picturing either the bus or the tube there’s unavoidable plastic everywhere. Even my bike has essential plastic parts. There’s nothing else for it…

I google maps it. 1 hour 24 minutes. That’s doable. Though I’m not sure in these boots. At least my route will go right through hyde park.

09.05 Provisions
An apple to try and overcome the tooth brushing issues and very pleased to find a large glass jar of sunflower seeds and a smaller jar to take then in. I’ve topped up on water as there’s no glass bottles to hand.

No pressing the plastic button!

09.21 Commuting

Taking longer than usual to cross roads as I can’t press the button. Really I shouldn’t be looking at the lights at all. I’ve walked for 10 minutes and I already have a blister – I remember why I stopped wearing these boots! Plasters out of the questions so I’ve stuffed tissue in my sock to try and stop it rubbing.

09.45 Phew!

Holland Park Avenue Hill and I don’t feel so bad about missing the gym this morning.

10.00 Making friends

Making friends along the way

Nice to see some more trees being planted in Notting Hill Gate.


Still a way to go

10.28 I’m only here!

I’m definitely walking quite slowly but it’s so beautiful here. And yes, that is a glass frame.

11.04 Work at last

I have finally arrived! I think I could win a prize for the slowest walker ever but I very much enjoyed watching the squirrels in Hyde Park. And, because I’d given up in rushing I even managed to help a tourist find her bus stop.

I couldn’t use my key fob to get in but luckily the buzzer was brass. After carefully avoiding the plastic risers on the stairs and another awkward toilet trip I entered the office to a small round of applause… followed quickly by disapproving looks of my outfit choice.

After a much appreciated glass of water I’m ready to try and start working.

11.47 Feeling the love

Great to hear people are feeling inspired

With lunchtime rapidly approaching and unpackaged food options looking scarce I was starting to feel a little low. But I’ve just heard that Keep Soctland Beautiful has heard about my challenge and is feeling inspired. They’re now going to pledge DoAction in support of Mark Wood’s polar challenge through The DoNation. Thanks so much for the support guys, makes it all worthwhile!

Do you think this is allowed??

11.55 A little freshness?

Half the difficulty seems to be working out what’s plastic and what isn’t. This chewing gum could be my salvation but is the packing plastic or not. Also, what is the gum made of…? Eating plastic would surely be a fail!

12.02 Settling down to work

There is nothing on my desk that I can touch so I’m sat at the meeting room table with the only food I could find that I could touch and the only work that doesn’t involve my computer.

13.30 Where to find a plastic free lunch…

14.24 Word spreads

Amazing! Keep Scotland Beautiful have written a lovely blog piece about my challenge and are feeling inspired to take their own on.


14.30 A meeting!

I don

I have a meeting in 30 minutes! I’m pleased as it will be one of the few productive things I can do today. But, as Suzy has already pointed out to the world, I look like a tramp!

I could go and hide in my office but I dont want to be ashamed of what I’m doing. As everyone we meet is in the green industry I’m hoping they will wholeheartedly support my endeavour and forgive the hair and outfit.

I’m off to the sink to try and flatten my hair – made worse by hiding it all day in the hat!

Will see how it goes!

16.56 Evening plans

After consultation with the missus, I’ve decided not to educate myself at the LSE Carbon Talk I was supposed to be attending and instead to use my free cinema tickets. Somewhat trepidatious about what plastic horrors may await me there, and really hope I don’t get asked for my Times Plus membership card (luckily I’d already printed the tickets). I’ve sent home strict instructions to bring me something to eat that’s not in a plastic container. Are those popcorn boxes plastic? I really hope not.

As someone’s now arrived to fit the insulation glazing and I’ve got a long walk ahead of me, I best get a move one!

17.27 Battling my way home

#NoPlastic is hard when you’re trying to avoid bumping into commuters.

Rushing too fast to explain to street fundraiser that even if I wanted to I couldn’t sign up because I can’t use their pen.

Could get used to this. Business on the phone while walking through Hyde Park. Breathlessness could be a problem though!


21.00 The good, the bad and the ugly

TOTAL FAIL: The cinema. I avoided all the food and drink, I tried not to touch anything visibly plastic but my seat was undeniably made solidly of unnatural polymers and let’s not get into what the projector is made of.

CHIPS! Ah sweet delicious chips. Even without your vinegary goodness your traditional paper wrapping and wooden fork have never looked so beautiful.

JO: Unexpectedly bumped into my old flatmate Jo. She asked enthusiastically for a hug but in all get cycle gear glory there was no way that could happen!

22.34 Finally it’s bed time

The Challenge

A day without plastics

Sounds simple doesn’t it? But on the dawn of my little adventure I’m starting to feel a little nervous. Looking around my desk I can’t see anything that’s not made from plastic and I don’t want to even talk about the realisation I just made after a trip to the loo!

Wondering why I’m putting myself through this? Yes so I am. Well here’s how it happened, a series of (un)fortunate events that led to what is starting to feel more and more like a formidable task…

After reading a particularly scary chapter of ‘The World Without Us’ I started thinking about just how much plastic we produce, and what we plan on doing with it all. We’ve got to find another way, which is why I was particularly pleased to start working with Biome Bioplastics who are doing just that- producing a viable alternative.

And then we took on our first pro-bono client, The DoNation, an innovative new sponsorship platform that encourages sustainable living. We’ve been promoting one of their biggest challenges yet as the explorer Mark Wood announces his record-breaking attempt to ski both the North and the South Pole to raise awareness of climate change. Mark’s asking people to sponsor him, not through money, but through action (DoActions to be precise) and is using The DoNation to get people to pledge climate saving actions whilst he risks his life to show us why it matters.

So here’s my DoAction.

I’m going to give up plastics, for a day. If you think that doesn’t sound like much then just run through just your basic morning routine and you’ll start to get the idea that it’s not as easy as it sounds. We live in a plastic world, and I’m about to find out just how much this stuff has infiltrated every part of our lives.

The rules:

  1. I must not touch or directly benefit from plastic for a whole day.
  2. I must attempt to carry out my normal daily routine.
  3. I have accepted that there will be a few fails, but I must avoid these at all costs and be honest about them when they happen.
  4. I must, unashamedly, report on all that goes on that day.

I’ll be updating throughout the day with live blogging, videos, photos and tweets so stay tuned for all the latest. Comments, suggestions and general words of encouragement will be greatly appreciated.

Wish me luck!