So, it has been a very, very, very long time since I have sat myself down in front of the computer to type words of hopeful wisdom about living a practically plastic-free life. The reason for this, as you may have guessed, is…I am pregnant!
I am 24 weeks at the point of writing this, which means it has taken me a good five months to get to the stage where I feel ready and able to sit back down and get to writing about it all.
The reason for this isn’t for the sake of keeping the pregnancy secret, but because I have had a pretty difficult time of it and both physically and mentally, almost since the point of finding out. Obviously, I haven’t created this blog to talk about the ins and outs of pregnancy itself, but in this instance, a lot of the difficulties I experienced are what have influenced how plastic free I have been able to be. So, I will go into it a little and, to be honest, we could all do to talk about this a little more because I think many pregnant people suffer in silence, some might even manage to fool you with a brave face, but really, it is far healthier to be open an honest. The fact is that pregnancy is different for everyone, it can even be different for the same person across different pregnancies.
So, I won’t go into any excess detail of the personal pregnancy detail in this post, so as to stick to the theme of plastic free, but if you would like to know more about my pregnancy (maybe you’re expecting and facing a challenging time too, or maybe you just want to better understand what it might be like) I will write a separate post to share this part of my journey a little later.
For now, welcome, to what will be the ‘Plastic-free and Pregnant’ mini-series. A blog within a blog!
Future posts will focus on how to navigate buying plastic-free, eco-friendly and toxic free baby stuff, while this post will explore whether I managed to maintain the same kind of plastic-free lifestyle as before pregnancy. The short answer is, no!
Is a plastic-free pregnancy possible?
Probably, I imagine there are some people out there who have managed it, but just as I have maintained that living a life with less plastic, even when not pregnant, depends on various factors like where you live, how much you earn, what local shops are available etc., doing so when pregnant simply adds to this list of variables. It depends very much on what pregnancy symptoms you get, how severe these might be, how well you respond to ways of coping with these and whether you have help at hand.
Is it practical?
Not in my opinion, even if you have a relatively breezy pregnancy, I don’t imagine it is all that practical to maintain the plastic-free approach at all times. Pregnancy itself isn’t practical, things change in an instant, cravings appear, food aversions take hold, sickness suddenly overcomes you and fatigue sets in right when you need energy. With all of this in mind, it isn’t really possible to always plan to be plastic free. At the best of times, plastic-free living takes a fair bit of organisation, especially when it comes to food, but try meal planning based on the plastic-free choices available when suddenly your body decides to have an aversion to half of the stuff you have bought. Or what about when hunger suddenly sets in whilst your out and about? Even preparing snacks for outings can be a challenge if your exhausted, or if aversions set it.
So even if you are lucky enough to be an almost fully functioning human being whilst pregnant, it doesn’t mean you are immune to everything and this makes being plastic-free and pregnant pretty impractical.
Oh and I almost forgot – pregnancy vitamins and any medication you might need for things like heartburn will often come in blister packs, which most councils do not accept for recycling. You might be lucky enough to have a TerraCycle bin somewhere local to place them in, but it’s still not plastic free.
Did I manage it?
Nope! You may have guessed based on the previous answer that if I don’t think it is practical, then I probably didn’t manage to do it. I am actually a long way from how plastic-free I was able to be before pregnancy, but as the blog is titled, it is all about doing what it practical!
I have had some success, I have managed to continue to use plastic-free bathroom and household products (well, my husband has, I was barely well enough to get from the sofa to the bathroom!), but although this is a positive, it was relatively easy to keep up.
The real place I have struggled is with food.
As I have already mentioned, even if you are managing to cope relatively well with pregnancy, things like food aversions and the odd bout of sickness or hunger can really mess up your plastic-free plans. If you are really struggling with pregnancy symptoms like persistent and extreme nausea, regular sickness, aversions to basically everything, fatigue and even vertigo (yay for me!), then this doesn’t just become the occasional problem, it is a problem all of the time.
I felt so incredibly nauseous and dizzy all of the time that I even just moving from one position to another could feel like a struggle. With so little energy it was all I could do to pop a potato waffle in the toaster or get to the bathroom to be sick (in the end I just carried around a bucket). It was awful, not just physically, but mentally too. The only real food I was able to eat was potato waffles and margherita pizza. The waffles come frozen in cardboard so that’s fine but the pizza, of course, does not. I couldn’t even have opted for my husband’s homemade versions because anything other than one particular brand made me retch. Even as the nausea started to show signs of subsiding, the aversions were still quite strong and any new food was introduced purely based on whether or not I wanted it, not the packaging it came in. At this point I just needed nutrition and to gain some of the weight I had lost, my priority was me and the baby, not the plastic. I have sadly even given up being vegetarian, have a total aversion to beans and any protein substitutes for the first 5 months. This also means more plastic, as most meat is packaged in plastic and with all the extra effort that has gone into taking care of me, a lot of choices have come down to being as convenient as possible for my husband to go out and buy.
How do I feel about it?
At first, I was feeling pretty rubbish if I am honest. I love the feeling I get from making better choices, that’s why I write about it. To fail at something you are so passionate about isn’t easy, add that to feeling as though your body is failing to get you through what is supposedly designed for is even worse. But, as you will learn once I write my additional post on my personal pregnancy journey, I have learnt not to feel guilt about any of it.
I have done my very best to keep myself and the new life growing inside me as healthy as I can and that has changed what has been practical to me when it comes to how I use plastic. As the whole point of this blog is to point out that we can all only do what is practical, then I guess I would be a hypocrite to think any different!