Plastic free on the trail?
A little bit of a deviation from my normal posts today but I am, as you read this, somewhere along the 177 miles of Offa's Dyke National Trail along the borders of Wales and England. And this is where I'll be for the next fortnight, alot of which is still in #Plasticfreejuly.
Walking/hiking is another big love in my life alongside seasonal eating & words. Last year mum and I tackled the Thames Path National Trail, I walked the Inca Trail to fund raise for the charity I work for back in 2015 and so far this year we've done over 100 miles on the North Downs Way. I have sort of caught the walking bug but as I head out on the trail this weekend this will be my first solo adventure.
Honestly I'm bricking it, but I also really need a break so cannot wait and have spent this week prepping all the things I need to pack. However with #Plasticfreejuly as a backdrop to day to day life right now all I've prepared has gone through the lens of 'is this reusable?' and 'is this sustainable?' And actually this is a lot harder than I thought it would be.
So this one is kinda straightforward. It's long been a thing in my walking world that for equipment you pay more for better kit that lasts longer. There is definitely a 'fast fashion' version of backpacks, boots, stoves etc. but if you're serious about the hobby, you tend to invest. The packaging isn't too bad either especially if you go in store to buy. However, what all the gear is made of and can you recycle it when it finally reaches it's life end? I'll admit I don't know and it's on my 'to Google list' for when I get back.
As is the same with all clothing you can either buy cheaper or pay out for something that claims to be of higher quality. Sadly though I have yet to stumble over a brand in the 'outdoors' world that pushes it's sustainability as a reason for it's cost. (I said this to Elea shortly after drafting this and she just looked at me and went 'Patagonia, next?'. It's a shame there aren't more though...) Mostly you are paying for a brand name as I've found the margin between mid price and top price quality is barely noticeable. I've had my sports direct leggings for as long as my craghopper trousers and both are still in good nick aside from a few rabbit nibbled holes from when Flopsie raided my wardrobe.
I thought it came naturally to me as a walker and camper not to pack single use plastic items as bins are normally far and few between on the trail and carrying rubbish is carrying unnecessary weight. But boy was I naive when I thought I could meal prep for a fortnight with light foods without involving plastic. Breakfast option - oats, comes in plastic. Dinner options - grains, comes in plastic. Pre-prepared, designed for the trail, ration pack style meals, you guessed it, comes in plastic. Even all of the things I like to throw in a trail mix comes initially in plastic. I have a great memory of being part way up a mountain on the Inca Trail and a friend yelling down the mountain to check if I was ok and me yelling back 'yeh, just sitting to eat some jerky', jerky is one of my go to trail snacks yet I've never seen it not in plastic pouches. And actually, although I hate to say this, plastic zip lock bags are super useful for storing food whilst out walking. Can we invent biodegradable ones of these please?
Now given it's #Plasticfreejuly obviously this wouldn't do. If I'd got my arse in gear earlier I would have done a plasticfreepantry order, but I didn't and I still need to eat next week. See pictures below for what I finally settled with and the for the waste I created. I am hoping that along the trail I'll have the pleasure of stumbling across a couple of markets and maybe some fresh eggs outside someones house and all of that gloriousness that comes with walking in the country.
However good we get at cutting out plastic and living more sustainably in our day to day if something changes or we go on holiday or we move to a new place it might feel like starting again. And that's ok because change doesn't happen overnight and you can't foresee every circumstance.
Don't worry the next couple of blogs from me are ready to go, with a special guest post from mum next weekend with the first of my 'Plot Tips' post.
If you wanted to keep up with how I'm doing I'll be posting sporadically on Instagram and Twitter @shallottheplot. And if you're reading this waiting for a 'sponsor me here' button, there isn't one, this is my holiday. Yes, really. And if that really doesn't feel right feel free to sign up for what's left of #Plasticfreejuly here and cut out single-use plastic as much as you can.
What am I eating this week?
honestly? couscous, grains, oats, trail mix and any fresh fruit & veg I stumble across or can forage