Living with plastic | Part 6: Keeping a balanced diet of cheese, vegetables… and tequila

Every year, Country Life's Rosie Paterson gives up something for Lent – this year, it's plastics. Over a month in and she discovers that even alcohol can cause plastic-related grief.

Dear Alcohol, I would like to apologise for all of those hideous mornings spent blaming you for my unintentional hangovers. Especially you, tequila.

It turns out that your drink of choice (not tequila in my case, that’s always someone else’s idea) isn’t to blame for that ‘morning after’ feeling.

It can’t be. I know this because I’ve woken up feeling hungover, despite the fact that I definitely did not drink last night. I wanted to drink, I really did, but the bar only had plastic glasses to hand and in true stubborn style, I refused. No, hangovers must be caused by sleep deprivation, or the effect of loud music on your brain.

The hangover rounds out one of the more tedious weeks of this challenge so far. It all started in Costco where I foolishly presumed that I could easily purchase everything needed for a dinner party.

The only loose produce available were some tomatoes. Or so I thought. Until the cashier pointed out that as Costco is a bulk, wholesale store I had to buy the whole crate of tomatoes. All 6kg of them. Not just ten individual ones.

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I left with a pineapple, which didn’t feature on the menu.

Next up: the third cold of 2018. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can blame my newly-depleted immune system on this challenge. Unable to buy any medication thanks to the packaging (this might be taking everything a bit too far) I’ve taken to swiping Berocca off colleague’s desks.

Happier meal times, pre-plastic challenge

Lastly: Cheesegate. The cravings for Cornish Cove, Devon Blue and Waitrose 1’s Coeur du berry reached crisis point earlier in the week and I’m ashamed to say that I bought a packet of plastic-wrapped halloumi.

Luckily, help came in the form of John Goodall, Country Life’s Architectural Editor, who recommended a fantastic cheesemonger: Rippon Cheese in Pimlico.

And here comes this week’s silver lining (I do like to go on about these). For every person who looks at me in disbelief when I mentioned what I’m doing (or at least attempting to do), or who screams theatrically when I go within five metres of a plastic bag, there are many more who are inspired to sign petitions lobbying the Government to cut down on plastic usage, offer recipes for homemade body scrubs or suggest new waste-free shops to try.

There are the girlfriends who send supportive messages whenever they read a blog, a flatmate who cooks supper whenever I can’t face another fruitless trip to the supermarket and complete strangers offering up kind words of encouragement.

Even more helpful was Riverford Organics depositing a box of 100% organic vegetables on my doorstep, just after I’d self-diagnosed myself with the plague. The earthy selection of spuds, purple sweet potatoes, leeks and fresh salad — delivered every Wednesday — were almost plastic-free and also a timely reminder of the importance of food provenance and sustainability. Riverford only uses plastic to protect produce susceptible to wilting (lettuce, spinach etc) and even have a ‘packaging technologist’ on their payroll, who is devoted to researching alternatives.

So it seems I can’t blame the hangover on a lack of vegetables. Sadly the answer comes back to me, thanks to the fact that my temporary memory loss is just that – temporary.

As the debauchery of last night starts to swirl to the front of my mind I realise can’t be 100% sure that I didn’t share a glass of something or other with a friend. Or maybe two. Or, for that matter, accept a drink bought by someone else.

Now I come to think about it, there may also have been shots.

I would like to retract my earlier apology. Tequila you’re back on the naughty step.

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