We are more than half way through July, and for me that means that Plastic Challenge is closer to the end than to the start. Trying to cut out single use plastics from our lives has proved impossible, although I am proud with some of the progress we have made. But I am also a little sad. Not just because plastic seems to be almost everywhere (we knew that) but because it risks overshadowing the real environmental problem, which inherently is bound up with the way we live.
I feel I have lost a few of you already, so thanks if you are still with me. Trying to cut single use plastics involves planning, because essentially single use plastics are there to avoid planning. Forgotten your lunch? No worry, your nearby supermarket will have a plastic wrapped salad with its plastic wrapped knife and fork and plastic wrapped dressing to keep you sustained. Nothing to drink? Ditto.
But it is more than that. Eating has morphed into refuelling for so many people. You see them in offices, picking at plastic wrapped food while simultaneously typing at a keyboard, neither activity being carried out to any great efficiency.
When did we stop celebrating mealtimes? When did we stop taking time out to craft meals, sit down at a table, and connect with friends or converse with family. Many of us still do this, but even I found myself lunching occasionally at my desk. Offices and workplaces used to have canteens or staff rooms, but these seem less common, and where they exist can be places that you would rather avoid than, spend time in, and if there is no green space nearby or the weather is poor, well, you are a bit stuck.
During the Plastic Challenge I have found myself connecting more with food, asking where it came from, how sustainable it is, whether it has clocked up a lot of food miles in the process of getting to me, who (or what) else has suffered (or benefitted) as a result of my purchase. I have also found myself finding ways to be a bit more creative with food, planning more, enjoying food a little more – and wasting a little less. In short, I have taken time out to enjoy food.
So, watch out for a campaign to re-instate the British lunchtime….