Deluding myself

Once upon a time, I thought I had found the holy grail… plastic packaging-free coffee. I used to go to the little local tea and coffee shop, they weighed out 500g of organic beans from the glass jar onto the scale pan, then tipped them into my (reused many times) container. In my mind, the coffee arrived at the shop in Hessian sacks, like I’ve seen on the internet. In my mind there was no packaging involved that could not be composted or reused.

And then, one day, I decided to buy 1kg of coffee beans and my illusions were shattered…

Oh no!

Oh no!

The glass jar did not contain a whole kilo, so the shopkeeper went into the storeroom and emerged with a sealed 1kg plastic bag of coffee (silent sob). I restrained myself and suggested that rather than open the bag and weigh out the contents, I’d just take the whole bag. And so I came home with some single-use plastic (which I carefully recycled) and something to think about.

And this is the thing… just because you don’t see the waste, doesn’t mean it’s not there. I consoled myself with the fact that I had used less plastic than if I had bought a smaller amount and had it weighed into yet another single use bag (the shop uses paper/foil/plastic combination bags) and that I had recycled the packaging rather than just sending it to landfill.

It does tick all sorts of other boxes

It does tick all sorts of other boxes

It’s very hard, if not impossible, to track the whole life of any product that you use. Often there is no information about waste, and what information there is has to be taken on trust. However, this is not going to stop me trying to make a difference and reduce the amount of waste I am responsible for. I was, therefore, very pleased to come across PALL: Plastic A Lot Less. Michelle’s idea is to think about consumption and try to reduce it, but not to beat ourselves up if it’s not possible. Just think how much the earth would benefit if we all took this approach. So, next time you’re making a buying choice, think about whether there is a ‘less’ option (for packaging, transport, or whatever) and make a real difference.

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14 Comments

  1. I’ve been told I must drink less coffee, or even less than my one cup of good stuff and two mugs of instant a day. Since I have no other vices, this is going to be hard, but I console myself with the idea that I must now develop home grown alternatives that have travelled many less food miles than my coffee, or the rooibos tea from South Africa that I love, or the Indian tea so beloved of Anglo Saxons everywhere. If I grow it and preserve it and brew it at home, I have not only improved my health, I’ve saved the world from a bit more packaging waste and a few thousand more unnecessary miles of fossil fuel consumption. But it IS going to be hard… 😦

    Reply
    • We only drink one mug of coffee each day but I too would find it hard to give up. What will be your substitute? I like mint tea, and lemon and ginger infusion, but they just aren’t the same as black tea or coffee or rooibos. I really do feel for you.

      Reply
      • Mint, lemon verbena, sage, lemon peel, orange & clove. I suppose it comes down to the herbs and fruits. I can grow my own roots and herbs, but I’ll have to put in quite a plantation if it’s going to be my beverage of choice! And then there’s kombucha, miso, kefir and all that fermented group, which I struggle with because anything fermented just tastes spoiled to my palate 😦

        Reply
  2. I drink, “a little bit more” than one cup a day! I agree that we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about what we do use but buying by the Kg does greatly reduce the total amount of plastic involved as well as my shopping hours which I also like to keep to a minimum!

    Reply
  3. Thank you! It makes me happy you like the ethos of my blog. Believe there was some beating up of myself… that why I didn´t start blogging for 6 years! “Every refusal adds up” and know you´ve found out how your coffee comes you´ve started a conversation about it, which is brilliant.

    Reply
    • I think I’ve finally managed plastic-free tea as far as possible (I gave up tea bags a few months ago). We’ve had lots of discussion here about plastic in tea bags, so I’m hoping that word is spreading. The coffee I hadn’t thought about much before, as we’ve bought loose beans in our own container for ages… I was just so sad to discover the ‘hidden’ plastic… I guess there’s a lot of it about.

      Reply
  4. I had this same conversations with friends I was with yesterday, the discussion about packaging and recycling so I’m glad you’ve posted this, I feel like I’m in “good company” again. I know they have very different views on environmental issues to me, but were quite rude and scathing when I told them instead of just buying something because I want it, even if heavily packaged, I look for alternatives first and make different choices, thereby reducing waste, if only a little bit. One was quite adamant she wasn’t going to bother about something “so stupid” as how something was packaged if she wanted it and didn’t want to become like me…..hmm?…….I can’t change other people’s minds, can only talk about what I do, so I’ll continue to shop carefully and refuse packaging wherever I can. I only drink tea, and buy that in bulk in my own container, but I’m wondering now how that bulk tea arrives in the shop…something to check out.

    Reply
  5. So important to remember not to beat yourself up – over anything really! As responsible and caring human beings we all do the best we can – and, as Maya Angelou so famously said, when you know better you do better. I think your posts are helpful to everybody on this subject. Your attempts to eliminate waste, the ways your figure out how to do it and your reports on whether or not it works are all informative and inspirational. [You know – lecturing never works, real life examples are aspirational!] In my opinion [and you know how opinionated I am] t’s not just about what you are doing – it is also about how many others you inspire to join in and do the best they can do. And you’re doing a good job Ms Snail!! ❤

    Reply
  6. So glad you found the PALL. I think you are doing quite a lot, so beating yourself up–which you thankfully said you weren’t in the last paragraphs–just isn’t on. Control what you can; the rest, well at the beginning of your blog I was prepared to leave a “this way lies madness” comment. So glad I don’t need to! And isn’t it funny how we all have this warehouse pile with burlap in our heads? Warehouses are full of pallets and plastic. Yipes (this way lies madness).

    Reply
  7. claire

     /  August 28, 2015

    thanks for sharing! i used to buy my tea in 1kg boxes – plastic wrapped but in lovely wooden boxes with a sri lankan dragon etched on (still using these as CD and bookshelves 10years later!!) anyway, I am afraid that for the sake of preserving flavor, you will always find a plastic or aluminium wrapping around loose tea and coffee

    Reply
    • I have resigned myself to the presence of some plastic, but it’s good to say no to some of it. I love the idea of your wooden boxes… and how lovely to be using them still.

      Reply
  8. I like the idea of PALL. 🙂 I’m in agreement with Pauline too. We all try to do the best we can and waste as little as possible. You are doing a very good job and trying harder than most.

    Reply

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