By Thomas Shaw on the 3rd March 2021
A time before plastic
In the 1900s, pre-packed food was not an option, and homes didn't have fridges or freezers. People would buy their food little and often because it would go off if they didn't. The milkman would push the milk around on a cart, and people would fill their metal jugs up in the street. By the 1950s, tinned goods had become available, but people still bought most of their food daily, from independent greengrocers, bakers and butchers. By now, milkrounds had shifted to reusable glass bottles, which the milkman would deliver and collect from your doorstep.
The age of TV dinners and pre-packaged food
The second half of the 20th Century saw fridges and freezers become a common feature in modern homes, which allowed people to do big shops to last throughout the week. The demand for plastic packaging also increased with the desire for longer shelf lives. By the 2000s, fridge and freezer ownership was the norm, and more and more people were buying milk, bread, fruit, vegetables, meat and ready-made meals in plastic packaging from the supermarket. This shift in habits coincided with the decline of independent greengrocers, bakers, butchers and the milkman.
Turning back the clock on our plastic problem
The elephant in the room is hard to ignore; plastic is an incredible material. It's cheap, versatile, and acts as an excellent barrier against moisture – keeping food fresh for longer. The problem is, it's often hard to recycle and can take around 450 years to decompose. So, there's a need for change. Our challenge is to eliminate plastic waste with reusable packaging and convenient plastic-free alternatives. Only then can we live without plastic.