Without a doubt, I find half terms and holidays the trickiest times to juggle everything. Work, childcare (local sports camps), an overdose of sibling rivalry and triple sets of the dreaded packed lunches are enough to put anyone’s patience to the test.
The crux of the issue is that it’s a change of routine; a time where something is bound to slip through the gaps.
This week, we’ve had a few no-plastic fails. But – in an attempt to err on the side of ‘glass half full’ rather than empty – I’ll start with a few half-term successes:
- Sandwiches for my boys’ packed lunches were made with home-baked bread.
- Pasta for the days when I hadn’t got around to baking the next loaf.
- For snacks, I baked large batches of gingerbread cake, granola bars, and cookies. (To be honest, the granola bars crumbled into granola in their lunch bags making a right mess, but let’s gloss over that for now).
- Fruit (apples and satsumas) were packed dutifully, wrapped only in their skins… and returned most evenings equally dutifully, bruised and un-eaten.
- Everything in the boys’ lunch boxes was packed in small paper bags and reusable tubs.
- Refillable water bottles were the only drinks.
- Our supermarket delivery was almost entirely plastic-free, with the exception of three items (one giant tub of yoghurt, toothpaste and olive oil spread).
And the fails?
- Salt and vinegar crisps! My boys love a pack in their packed lunch at camp. Everything else was pretty healthy, but I reckoned they deserved a treat on that front. So, trying to minimise any plastic, we stuck clear of individual packets. Instead, I bought a couple of tubes of Pringles (cardboard tubes, but with a plastic lid) and divided them into small paper bags or pockets in their lunch boxes.
- We ran out of milk and I forgot to order some more from our [glass] milk bottle delivery service, so had to pick up a plastic bottle of milk locally.
- The valentine’s supermarket special deal, offering three courses (with four pieces of plastic packaging) and a bottle of wine for £20!
- I spent so much time sorting the kids’ lunch boxes that I forgot my own refillable water bottle and reusable coffee cup on my commute into work.
I’m certainly not wishing the kids back to school and school dinners, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it’s a little easier to stick to our principles when packed lunches aren’t in the equation.
It wasn’t our best week on the plastic-free front, but it’s streets ahead of our plastic use this time last year and that’s progress. I’ve taken the view that I’ll learn from our mistakes and start each week afresh trying to do better than the week before.
But, if anyone does discover a plastic-free brand of salt and vinegar crisps, please do let me know!