Pack in the Plastic!

Could you give up plastic for a week to help save the planet? These days, most people do their little bit to protect the environment.

John Millen |

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Voice: These days, most people do their little bit to protect the environment. But for Mei Foo resident Patrick Wu, throwing that empty plastic water bottle in a recycling bin and then patting himself on the back wasn’t enough. Patrick decided to take the’ No Plastics Challenge’. Tell us, Patrick, what exactly is this and how did it affect your lifestyle? 

Patrick: The ‘No Plastics Challenge’ is exactly what the name suggests. It involves giving up single-use plastic for one week. I decided to have a go after seeing photos in a magazine of Henderson Island, a small coral island in the Pacific Ocean. I was absolutely shocked.

Over the last few years, millions of tonnes of plastic rubbish have been washed up on Henderson Island’s shores. This beautiful place has become a rubbish dump. Did you know by 2050, if things go on as they are, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish?

Voice: Urgh! That’s grotesque!

Patrick: Indeed. So, we’ve all got to do more than we are doing now to stop this. That’s where the ‘No Plastics Challenge’ comes in. For one week last month, I monitored the amount of plastic from packaging that I threw away, dividing it into what could and could not be recycled.

I live on my own and cook for myself so I buy a lot of stuff from the supermarket. At the end of the week, my non-recyclable pile of plastic was bigger than my recyclable pile. I knew all this would end up in a hole in the ground or in the sea. I had to do something.

Voice: And that’s where the ‘No Plastics Challenge’ came in.

Patrick: Right. I decided not to buy anything packaged in plastic. I didn't buy any drinks in plastic bottles, and that was no problem. I used to buy ready-made soups in plastic containers, but that week I made my own. I love bread rolls, but stopped buying them from the bakeries at the train station, and made my own. I bought fruits and veggies from the market, and didn't buy any of those cut fruits n plastic containers.

Voice: I’m guilty of buying a lot of ready prepared fruit. And I do it out of laziness! Not good!

Patrick: Exactly! I started buying unwrapped bars of soap instead of shower gel. You can even buy hair soap instead of shampoo if you look around. I put uneaten food in dishes covered with saucers and plates and threw out the clingfilm. I found a shop that sells rice and cereal and nuts from big vats. You just scoop up the amount you want and put it in your own containers. I am a great tea drinker, and started buying loose tea instead of tea bags. It tastes better, as well!

Voice: Did you manage to cut plastic out of your shopping for the week?

Patrick: Yes. Completely. It was tough, but I did it. And now I’ve got into the habit, I will continue. I know that some plastics are recyclable, but I decided to cut throw-away plastic out of my lifestyle completely. Why buy cheese wrapped in plastic or peaches in a plastic punnet?  It’s stupid if you think about it. All it needs is a bit of thought and a lot of determination, and we can clean up our planet. It’s time to pack in the plastic! Now!