There’s no getting away from plastic. It’s with us whether we like it or not. And right now, the onus to use/not use and recycle/dump is entirely on us, the purchasers. So if we can find ways to can minimise our use of plastic, all the better. So here are a few suggestions.

Anything with pump action

I get horrible attacks of eczema which means I have to purchase endless vats and tubes of all sorts of creams and unguents to rehydrate my poor, dry, itchy skin. Recently, I couldn’t get a half full pump-action pot to work – don’t you hate it when that happens!. So I tried to take it apart so that I could use the rest of the cream. Only then did I realise that there was SO much more plastic than I’d realised. (Oh, and empty space for which I was paying…!)

See what I mean?

I can’t think why it took me SO long to work out that anything with a pump action means there is a great deal more plastic than is absolutely necessary. Now I just get a simple tube or a pot.

Knorr Stock Pots etc

For some unimaginable reason, companies have started selling the same or very similar products in plastic where they have always sold them in something recyclable (tins) or biodegradable (foil wrap). Grrr! The Knorr stock pot is a case in point.

Let me assure you that the so-called “stock pot” is more or less the same as the Knorr Stock cube. Only not quite as tasty – yes, I tested it. It was a very clever marketing trick to make the new Stock Pot look more melty than the old cube but please be assured, the stock cube dissolves in hot water, hot stew etc., every bit as well as the stock pot. So keep a look out for other pernicious plasticisation.

And why have John West started selling fish in plastic pots instead of cans? Shame on them!!!

Blister packs

Proper medicines have to come in blister packs – it’s the law – but why do so many complementary meds and cough sweets (Strepsils! I name and shame you!) also come in blister packs? Superdrug now recycle them but recycling consumes a fair amount of energy, and the thought of having to recycle the unnecessary makes the heart sink. So please have a look out for alternatives wherever possible.

Meat ‘n’ veg

Bring your own container to the butchers and ask them to use that. They will, you know – and you won’t be the first to ask.

Buy loose vegetables and fruit where you can. If you have a local market or a regular stall on the street, better still. Ask them to put the veg straight into your bag for life – after all, we don’t really need paper bags for most of it. Our mothers and grandmothers knew how to shop – potatoes at the bottom, then onions, root veg, brassicas, hard fruit, and then the softer fruit, tomatoes, lettuces etc on top.

Scouring sponges

Yep, plastic. Two layers of artificial polymers laminated together which will release fibres into the sewage system every time you use them. Use a biodegradable bristle brush from Ecovibe.

So just be mindful of what you buy. Meanwhile, I’d be delighted to include any ideas from you guys. Please do send them in. And I’m going to try and keep these posts a bit shorter in the future. The long ones take me at least two weeks to research and write. Not being a scientist, trawling through long scientific papers is slow going.


This goes to Barilla, the pasta manufacturers, who have stopped selling packets of pasta with plastic windows. Hurrah for Barilla!

Frightening plastic fact for today

A garment made from polyester or any other synthetic fabric can shed 1900 fibres per wash.

In humans, inhaled microplastic fibres are taken up by the lung tissues and can become associated with tumours, whilst dispersive dyes from polyester and acrylic fibres have been shown to cause dermatitis. See below for citation.

In other words, wear more natural fabrics and wash your clothes less!


We’ve had a fairly torrid time of it at home. After a string of losses, it was very hard to summon the mojo needed for this kind of work. But I’m back out on the road now with my pals, Fascinating Aïda, and it’s just wonderful to be working again. A shot in the arm.

So here’s a final picture of the amazing old fella who gave us so much joy for 13 wonderful years, known as Three Dogs Barney because my partner always called “Barney Barney Barney!” We said goodbye to him on 1st April, just before Easter. Piper was a very lost little doggie for months afterwards.

Thanks to Mark Anthony Browne, Phillip Crump, Stewart J. Niven, Emma Louise Teuten, Andrew Tonkin, Tamara Galloway, and Richard C. Thompson for their article Accumulations of microplastic on shorelines worldwide: sources and sinksfor my plastic fact.