Living without plastic | Part 2: A plan of plastic-free action

Each year, Country Life's Rosie Paterson issues herself a challenge for Lent. This year she's attempting to give up plastic and plastic packaging for the whole 40 days. Three days in, Rosie takes on Valentine's Day, tries to remember her Tupperware and dines at The Ritz.

Every sixty seconds, one million plastic bottles are sold across the globe.

Every year, regular seafood consumers unknowingly ingest around 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic, according to Ghent University of Belgium. What-is-more, a study by Plymouth University found that one third of all fish caught in UK waters contain plastic particles.

The facts are hard to swallow, especially when you’re eating a tuna steak alone on Valentine’s Day.

Ok, so I wasn’t alone. Valentine’s day passed in a suitable blur of girly films, red lipstick and mild hysteria, alongside friend Olivia.

It was however, suspiciously healthy. It transpires that anything vaguely sugary comes wrapped in equally processed, plastic packaging and that there’s a strong chance I’ve inadvertently embarked on a dieting challenge.

Recommended videos for you

I’m only two days in but the struggle is already very real. Aside from the sugar cravings, I failed to leave for work on time this morning, returning firstly for an industrial amount of Tupperware, packed with enough food to see me through the day (so long office vending machine), and again to grab one of the aforementioned breeding bags-for-life.

A good idea until it turns out you used permanent marker

The solution? A handy ‘what have you forgotten Rosie?’ list, scribbled in whiteboard marker on my kitchen cupboards (where it joins other penned ramblings, including a life bucket list). It’s reminiscent of tactics employed by my mother, to get me through the school week in a vaguely organised fashion.

In more promising news, this year’s Lent challenge appears to have received the royal (non-plastic) seal of approval. HRH The Queen announced this week that she is banning all plastic bottles and straws from the royal estates.

Photo by Yui Mok – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Reports suggest that Her Majesty was inspired to act by Sir David Attenborough and the Blue Planet 2 series, though I can’t help but think that last week’s column might have played a part.

It’s not just plastic in our oceans that should be giving our Monarch et al cause for concern though. Earlier this year it emerged that China will no longer import the UK’s waste plastic – to put this into perspective, in 2016 they helpfully took over 55% of it off of our hands.

And those pesky plastic bottles? With fewer than half of all bottles bought in 2016 subsequently collected for recycling, those that don’t make it to their watery ocean graves end up in landfill sites. This is despite the fact that the majority manufactured for soft drinks and water are made from highly recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (try saying that quickly, five times).


Here’s one I made earlier: packed lunches are key to avoiding one-use plastic

I try to keep this in mind on the set of Country Life’s latest photoshoot – for our second annual wedding guide, out on March 14 – generously hosted by The Ritz London. Surrounded by exquisite fine china, in the hotel’s signature rich colour palette and gold gilt, my lovingly pre-prepared homemade salad (albeit at midnight in a last minute panic) doesn’t quite fit in.

It’s a timely reminder that organisation is going to be key. With that in mind, I’m off to scribble a plan of plastic-free action for next week – which includes a road trip to Norfolk, a dinner party for 10 people and a long-haul flight to Canada – on to my kitchen cupboard.

You can follow Rosie’s progress every Friday at – she’s also on Instagram at @rosielkpaterson