Family Weekend Trip to the Coast – Green and Plastic Free?

As a family we enjoyed a few days in the amazing spell of weather at the end of the Easter holidays down on the Jurassic Coast hunting for fossils, but how plastic-free and green was this time away?

The past year has seen us making lots of small changes to our way of life as a family to avoid single-use plastic, reduce our waste, and become a greener and more environmentally conscious family overall. This has proved challenging at times and even more so away from home and on holiday so I was determined to make sure these few days away wouldn’t result in a massive pile of plastic waste & packaging or excess consumerism.

Our first green fail was the 4 hour drive down to the coast in our car, ideally we should have jumped on the train but the thought of adding so many extra hours to a journey with small(ish) children for just a couple of days away, coupled with the place we were staying in being in the middle of nowhere and a 15 minute drive from the town meant logistically and financially our car won hands down.
Packing of the family backpack to cart around our reusables was my job otherwise all the things I wanted packing would be mysteriously ‘forgotten’ by husband. The upside of filling the family backpack with our water bottles, coffee cups, bamboo cutlery, snacks, notebooks, pens and a couple of magazines is that we wouldn’t need to use any disposables, buy anything, or rely on restaurant provided crayons for entertainment when sitting down for dinner. The downside, however, is that the bag is massive when packed for 4 people, becomes extremely heavy, and you end up feeling like a cart horse with a very sweaty back.

green reusable travel cup

My husband thinks I’m bonkers wanting to lug our reusable cutlery around with us but my argument was that when on the beach you never know when you’ll fancy an impromptu fish & chips… the cutlery wasn’t used once and came home clean… but it was there if we needed it!

We were staying in a lovely self-catering cottage within a converted dairy farm just outside Lyme Regis, I was pleased to see it had no travel size plastic bottles of shampoo etc, it had a restaurant on site so our breakfast was covered each day (fresh pancakes and ice cream went down well each morning with one of the kids – breakfast of champions apparently!) as well as a bar (great for enjoying an evening beverage in a real glass while the sun went down) and a health/beauty spa (which I didn’t get to sample sadly).

Meal-wise we managed to produce no additional waste or plastic waste on 2 of the 3 days over and above what the restaurants themselves produced (I try not to think about the reality of waste from the catering industry!) as we ate dinner in restaurants on 2 of the days. We bought food to cook in our self-catering cottage on the third day and this was our biggest day of waste production as the local town supermarkets did not sell anything that wasn’t encased in plastic… We tried our best to find dinner in recyclable packaging and were about 50% successful, thankfully the cottage did have recycling facilities for the packaging that could be.  

Out and about each day on the beach we made sure we’d filled our water bottles from the tap in the cottage so no need to buy water and we had snacks with us so we didn’t buy convenience foods wrapped in unrecyclable plastic wrappers. I’d packed our recently purchased Huski Home reusable coffee cups for hot drinks which were great, they were well insulated, light to carry around and lovely to drink from (I’d highly recommend).

blue and green reusable travel cup

Ice creams are a must when at the beach and over the 3 days we did consume quite a lot of them, they were always eaten in cones as they should be (why wouldn’t you want a good waffle cone with your ice cream?!) so no plastic spoons or tubs for us. It was pretty annoying to see these single-use items still being offered alongside the ice cream cones and I picked up and binned a number of these discarded plastic spoons from the beach over the 3 days, (along with coffee cup lids and various other pieces of single-use plastic rubbish).

Looking back I think we did a pretty good job over the 3 days, the fact we now think about how and what we consume before buying makes it a bit easier and is a really good way of reducing our impact on the planet as we try to choose zero waste/non-plastic options wherever we can. If we’d been more organised and prepared we’d have taken food with us to cook on the self-catering evening as we’d pre-booked our restaurants but overall I’m pretty happy with our efforts.  
Blog written by Alexandra Parrish at Achieving Greenness

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