Vincent van Gogh, The Harvest, 1888, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

This week in my ongoing quest to avoid plastic I visited the farmers’ market, where I got more – and less – than I bargained for.

I’m a man with a plan. I like lists. To-do lists, shopping lists, lists of my enemies who will one day get their comeuppance. I also like to do things efficiently. Being efficient gives me a degree of pride that is probably not healthy and certainly isn’t cool. A few years ago I’d whittled the supermarket trip down to a cool 12 minutes. That’s 12 minutes flat from trolley to checkout, and I didn’t forget a thing. (Then they changed the layout, the bastards, and I had to start from scratch.) But seriously, I’m good. …

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (I shop therefore I am), 1987

Metaphorically speaking, when it comes to shopping I like to compare myself to an assassin. (Not literally, obviously — in practice I would never so much as jump the queue at the Apple Store.) I prepare meticulously, I identify my targets, scope them out over many weeks and when the moment is right I pounce in a flurry of destruction. I bet you didn’t spot me, hiding in plain sight amid all the regular shoppers. In your face, The Jackal.

So naturally when the January sales came around I had my eye on the odd bargain or two. And…

Andreas Gursky, 99 Cent, 1999 © Andreas Gursky/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

In my first week of plastic avoidance I quickly learned that the stuff is bloody everywhere and avoiding it takes time. And tough decisions.

Paved With Good Intentions

I woke up on January 1 miraculously hangover-free. No headache, no nausea, no sinking feeling that there may be an Instagram Story of me dancing in a glittery tuxedo doing the rounds. This was amazing. At the stroke of midnight I had written off the entire day, only to have it given back to me, no questions asked. How could this be? Was I dead?

There are no hangovers in The Good Place

Probably not. I…

Roy Lichtenstein, Step-on Can with Leg, 1961 © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS/Artimage 2019

At the beginning of 2019 I made a simple resolution: no more single-use plastic. Recycling wasn’t good enough, I needed to reduce. I knew it would be easier said than done, but rather than think it through, plan it out, and realise it was too complicated to bother trying, I just went for it. This is my diary of how I’ve done and what I’ve learned along the way.

Starting Line

I’ve always considered myself environmentally conscious, on a macro level — worrying about global warming and rising sea levels — but also at home on a micro level. Always turn lights…

Joe Dunning

Plastic Avoidance: A Beginner’s Diary

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