During February I was challenged by SIGG to ditch the plastic – a challenge for which they sent me one of their metal bottles with an active top.
When I first agreed to the challenge, before I wrote my post introducing it to you, I thought it would be no problem at all – easy even. I hardly ever buy bottles of water, I am more than happy to drink water from the tap; at home I have a water filter on my tap in the kitchen and a water filter in my fridge, at work we have a mains fed water cooler, and I use a sports bottle when exercising. Times I do purchase or drink from single use bottles of water include when on long car journeys, when away from home, and when at work events.
I realised when writing my introductory post that ditching single use plastic bottles of water should be pretty easy, it’s other things that are a problem for me; Coca Cola, Fanta, Lilt, Lucozade, Innocent Smoothies, Copella Apple Juice, that sort of thing. These are drinks I will happily have daily – think Boots Meal Deal, or simply popping to the Spar because I fancy something cold and full of flavour to drink during the afternoon. When I think about it all those bottles cost me a fortune; at least a pound at a time.
I also drink a lot of cordials. I enjoy water on its own but it’s even better with some flavour, and is a great way to supress my incredibly sweet tooth (did you see that BBC Bang Goes the Theory on Sugar the other day – eek!!). And then of course when I did share my challenge with you, a friend quite rightly commented, simply, “don’t forget milk”. And yes, milk comes in plastic bottles too doesn’t it? And I drink a lot of milk – in tea, on its own, on cereal.
So, as you know, I chose to limit the challenge to individual sized bottles – 500ml/600ml/.75l or so – the sort of thing that I could replace like for like with my SIGG reusable bottle. I thought that was me being fair to myself. I thought that was enough.
Did I Manage It?
Yes I did! I can honestly say that during February I purchased a grand total of zero individual bottles of water, Coke, juice, and anything else that counts. I stuck rigidly to using my SIGG bottle or from a glass/mug/paper cup. I got used to carrying the large SIGG bottle with its Active Top around with me everywhere, and made good use of it everywhere I went. I refilled it from the tap or water filter, and even in Lush in Lincoln where you can refill a reusable bottle for free (see my tapwater.org post).
Actually it’s been totally fine. There was more than one occasion when at about 3pm I opened my bag, removed my purse, took out a couple of quid and was about to leave for the corner shop to get come Coke when I spotted the SIGG bottle on my desk and remembered I wasn’t supposed to be doing that. I probably saved a good £20 over the month on that sort of thing, although I’m not sure what I did with it because I don’t seem to have any cash left over.
It wasn’t easy all of the time. If you go into a café (or the canteen at work) and want a cold drink rather than a cup of tea or coffee, everything comes in a plastic bottle. Or a plastic cup. Think about it – Starbucks, Costa, Café Nero etc have iced drinks in plastic cups or bottles of juice, squash, water, Coke etc. In bars and restaurants it’s fine as Coke comes in a glass… but in coffee shops and even in the work canteen it’s a hot drink in a paper cup or nothing. Some places provide tap water with no problem, but it’s never obvious. I also noticed that nowhere seems to sell cans any more. In fact I noticed in Tesco that Coke now tell 330ml Coke in plastic bottles rather than cans. I found that very surprising. I wonder why? I guess it’s because it is resealable with the bottle cap, making it more convenient.
As a result of this challenge I’ve drunk loads more water than usual, which is saying something as drinking enough has never been a problem of mine! I noticed a couple of things that may or may not be completely related such as my skin improving and my energy levels increasing… I say may or may not as I also upped my exercise levels in February and also ate far more fresh fruit and vegetables too, so those will have had an effect too.
Since the end of February I’ve not done badly either. That SIGG bottle is very well used and my water intake is still much higher than it has been in the past. I admit I have succumbed to plastic bottles on a couple, maybe three or four occasions. All for convenience. One was when I was away for work for a couple of nights and ended up purchasing a milkshake in a plastic bottle (a Bounty one, new to me and really rather nice!) because I really wanted something that wasn’t water and I wasn’t up for sitting in a very noisy busy bar on my own. The second was earlier today – I had a Boots Meal Deal after a couple of months off; I stood in the shop looking at the options and the prices and realised it was cheaper for me to buy my chosen wrap and bag of crisps with a drink rather than without. So I had an Innocent Smoothie, and I enjoyed it after not having them for so long. But a couple of bottles in nearly two months isn’t bad is it? As long as I don’t get back into the habit again.
Now the Challenge is Done
SIGG have converted me; I have every intention of continuing to avoid buying individual plastic bottles wherever possible. That bottle they sent is pretty much permanently with me when I’m somewhere where no glass will be available. It feels good to have got into a positive habit – good for me, good for my purse, good for the environment.
Ditching the plastic when it is individual bottles is fine. I might have been a bit tempted by nice looking drinks but it was fairly easy to stick to using my SIGG bottle and not give in. But if I was to ditch the plastic properly and get rid of 2l bottles of Coke and lemonade, bottles of cordial, bottles of milk, large bottles of nice apple juice, and anything and everything else, I would seriously struggle. And forget drinks, what about fabric conditioner, toilet bleach, tomato ketchup, slide oil for my trombone, washing up liquid, and all those other necessary things that come in plastic bottles or not at all? Things I need come in plastic bottles. Things that are not quite so easy to avoid as bottled water.
And of course I am not completely naïve; I realise that deciding to ditch the plastic myself makes hardly any difference to the Earth. It would take a great movement to reduce the demand for plastic bottles, they are a part of everyday life for many. There are also other things like plastic bottles that cause as much damage to our world, and I am probably equally as guilty of using those.
Those things aside, I feel good thanks to the SIGG Ditch the Plastic challenge, and I am very pleased that I was invited to take part. Thanks SIGG, you’ve made me realise once again that tap water is great (filtered and chilled is better!), and that I don’t need to spend money on single use plastic bottles that just end up in the bin.