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Lent Plastic Challenge 2020

26th February to 9th April

Are you trying to reduce your plastics as an individual and need some inspiration? 

Perhaps you have ‘nailed it’ and want to get your friends, family and teammates engaged without being ‘preachy’.

Or you just fancy doing more than giving up chocolate this Lent. 

So why not suggest you all do a team ‘Lent Plastic Challenge’: 40 days of reducing single-use plastics week by week. 

Sign up here to join the Facebook group or the email newsletter where you will get weekly tips and suggestions, or follow on Instagram.

Furthermore, if you would like to get to grips with the background to the problem with plastics and plastic recycling, we have teamed up with our sister consultancy, The Sustainable Sidekicks, to offer a free e-learning course.

The first 50 people who sign up will get access to an online course on Understanding Plastic and Plastic Recycling. Head to the sign-up page to find out more.

Overcoming our Brain: The Psychology behind a Lent Plastic Challenge

If you have ever started a diet, or told yourself you are never eating sugar or chocolate again, you will know how tough it can be and how all you think about is the forbidden items.

This can be the same, if you try to make changes to your lifestyle for the environment, like going vegan or plastic-free. In this blog, we will unpack the psychological factors at work and how undertaking a month challenge like Veganuary or the Lent Plastic Challenge can achieve long-term behaviour change. I will share from my own personal experience of hosting the Lent Plastic Challenge for 5 years, changing my lifestyle for the environment and from studying behaviour change.

Why giving something up is painful and daunting?

When we are told, or tell ourselves, that we can’t have something we experience ‘loss aversion’. And due to our human survival mechanisms, we are actually wired to experience loss twice as painfully as the joy of pleasure; so it actually hurts to give something up!

Also due to our survival instincts, we also struggle with long-term comprehension, but are more focused on the immediate future which is why, for so long, we have struggled to comprehend climate change as explained in the book ‘Don’t even think about it‘.

So how do we overcome this?

By doing a Lent challenge or a month-long challenge, we can tell our brain, it is not forever which is less daunting and painful. Rather than the loss, we can also focus on all the things we are going to bring into our lives and how we can replace the items we are giving up by finding recipes and solutions. And our brain will love this process because our brains enjoy solving problems, which is why crosswords and computer games are so popular.

The allure of convenience and plastic packaging

No, our brains are not wired to find satisfaction in unpackaging and throwing away plastic wrappers. However, our brain is constantly seeking out the easy option and the shortcut which is why convenience is king and plastic-packaged goods have become so indispensable.

Trying to overcome convenience can be challenging, but it is why when you seek out alternatives you need to find things that are quick and easy- which is all the recipes in the Lent Plastic Challenge are simple and straight forward (because I don’t have much time, and I actually switch off from a recipe with lots of ingredients).

How to change our plastic habits

Whilst we humans like to think we are rational beings making conscious choices, it turns out that most of the time we are going through life on autopilot because our brains like to automate as much as possible. This means that most of our day-to-day shopping behaviours and purchasing choices are because of habit or impulse, whereas shopping plastic-free requires more conscious thought and planning.

It is believed that we need at least 21 days to create or break a new habit, hence why month-long challenges work so well. To avoid overwhelm it is important not to take on too many new behaviours at once, which is why in the Lent Plastic Challenge we suggest doing a couple of items a week, rather than going all-out plastic-free at once, because this can be overwhelming and too much to remember for a life on autopilot.

The importance of public commitment

As humans, we are very social creatures and we care a lot about what other people think of us, so maintaining our public persona is important. This means if we make a public commitment, we are more likely to stick to it than if we just commit to ourselves.

So getting your friends, family and work colleagues involved in a challenge, or joining a public group and making a public pledge will increase your success rate. The Lent Plastic Challenge is set-up to support this, with a Facebook group, Instagram feed and a weekly email newsletter you can share with your work colleagues.

Joining the Lent Plastic Challenge

So if you are keen to change your plastic habits, then why not get involved in the Lent Plastic Challenge. There is a Facebook group, Instagram account and an email newsletter with weekly tips based on different themes.

This is of course completely free and furthermore this year, I am linking up my business consultancy, The Sustainable Sidekicks. The first 50 people to sign up will get free access to one of our workplace e-learning courses on Understanding Plastics and Plastic Recycling. To find out more head to the sign-up page for all the links.

Who is Livvy Drake, aka Green Livvy?

I am a sustainability and behaviour change consultant who works with events and businesses to reduce environmental impacts, offering consultancy and training and talks.

I studied behaviour change at Bristol UWE, focusing on plastic bottle consumption. I have delivered a number of waste and plastics behaviour change initiatives and have used that experience to create an online course for businesses.

As Green Livvy, I share my knowledge on waste and plastics reduction with individuals and households online and through face-to-face talks.

Store Cupboard Baking

By Livvy Drake

To encourage saving, I have set myself a weekly budget for buying food, eating out and weekly treats. So when compiling my shopping list,  staring at the jars of flours and powders in the cupboard, I realised I had an abundance of delights in front of me and it was time for some store cupboard baking and freezing.

These were the recipes, I came across to replace bread and cakes which were so easy and tasty; I just had to share them:



I had a random bag of ryeflour so attempted to make really easy Rye Bread but alas our oven is not good for this and it never cooked in the centre. Instead I turned it in to breadcrumbs and have been making burgers, stuffed mushrooms and pakoras with it ever since- waste not want not! But give this recipe a try and let me know if it works!
Simple Ryebread

Seed and nut bread

This bread is a winner, it doesn’t need to be kneaded, or to rise in the oven, it is packed full of protein. I2015-06-21 11.09.38 chucked in whatever nuts, seeds and herbs that I had in the cupboard, it truly is a Life-changing loaf of bread (name of the recipe!).


These are always lurking in our house, so I either chuck them in the freezer and make into smoothies or make some kind of banana sweet treat.

Banana and Gramflour muffins2015-06-21 11.08.58
Amazing vegan muffins that are so satisfying and easy to make. I didn’t have any corn flour which didn’t seem to matter and I put raisins in instead of chocolate.
Chunky Monkey muffins


Rye, Banana & Peanut Butter Bread
Finding a vegan recipe is always fun, so I am pleased to say that this one worked fine by replacing the chia seeds with egg replacer (already in the 2015-06-21 11.10.33cupboard).  I put raisins in instead of cacao and used some wholewheat flour as I wasted all the rye on the unsuccessful bread.

Rye Peanut Butter Banana Bread 

Banana Flapjack
Mostly this month I have been eating oats and bananas!
The 4 Ingredient Energy Bar

Less Waste More Living Shares

Share your Store Cupboard Cookups or Baking recipes in the Facebook Group, Less Waste More Living  or on Instagram @lesswastemoreliving




How to be less stuffy in the bedroom

Well, that got your attention! 20150530_172857 Sorry, this post is not about getting jiggy, it’s about looking at the stuff we accumulate,  and  considering the best way to manage  it, rather than chucking in the bin or dumping on a local charity shop.


Many people who have travelled will always say that it is so liberating to be free of all the clutter and excess; then return to the daily routine and re-accumulate it all again. Is this because the new shiny things give meaning to justify the 9-5? Do these things really make us happy?

The trouble with stuffIMG-20150501-WA0000
After moving three times in the last 12 months, I have given stuff a bit of thought as I packed and unpacked it, and found these limitations.

  • Stuff requires more stuff – lyrcra & shoes for a bike, shelving for books
  • Stuff costs money – to maintain, shelve, move, insure
  • Stuff takes up time – from sorting out piles of paper to dusting ornaments
  • Stuff creates worry – the more precious the stuff or things the more concern and pre-occupation are attached to them.
  • Stuff takes up space – the more stuff the bigger the room, house and cupboards that are required

How to get rid of stuff ethicallycluttered house

Coming from a family of hoarders it is easy to want to save things, as they could be ‘useful one day’, but if items just live under the bed or cant be found when they are required- how useful are they?

I thought the most ethical option was to donate to a local charity shop, until I read reports suggesting that up to 41% of charity clothes are being sold off in Africa and destroying traditional industries. So on my last move, I looked at other ways to manage my unwanted stuff.

Distribute Locally 

  • Give directly to local homeless shelters – ensure you check what they actually need first though
  • Find a local scrapstore – great for scrap fabrics or old bedding
  • Offer to friends and family – save them buying more new things too
  • Sell online –  As well as ebay and Gumtree,  I recently discovered Facebay! On Facebook there are numerous local groups as well as genre specific e.g. baby things, vintage things and my favourite for Bristol, Ghetto Booty!

Fix up Look Sharp 

I had a whole collection of broken things including rucksacks, waterproof coats, handbags and shoes. Rather than chucking away I looked locally for repair options, which saved me money.

  • A seamstress/ clothes repair place -fixed zips on dresses, ripped lining on a coat
  • The shoe repair shop – fixed loose soles and holes in the leather. They also repaired zips on a rucksack, and replaced a strap on a handbag.


Reuse rather than recycle
While I am trying to hoard much less these days, it is worth noting that there are plenty of places and organisations that will gladly take:

  • Egg boxes– local farm shops, vegetable or health food shops sometimes take these back
  • Stamps– charities can make money from these
  • Plastic bags and tote bags – these I donate to independent shops so they can reuse them.

How to reduce

My pet hate is spending time sorting through paper and piles of fltake picturesyers, so I decided to minimise the amount in my life.

Take pictures of business cards, flyers and posters on a phone


Refuse plastic bags and cotton tote bags- how many cotton tote bags do we really need, especially if as a lifecycle analysis suggests they need to be used 130 times to have a similar footprint to a plastic bag

Embrace Zero Waste living –  I have found inspiration from Bea Johnson in her Zero Waste book which demonstrates how you can mimise the clutter and consumerism without feeling deprived.

Focus on experiences rather than stuff – James Walman captures what many of us questioning consumerism are feeling- Stuffication. He suggests focusing on enjoying experiences rather than buying new things.

Less Waste More Living

Modern life is all about being ‘busy’ and ‘stressed’ and it is easy to getless-waste-more-living-profile-fb caught up on the treadmill, spending money on quick fixes to make us feel temporarily better. At Green Livvy, we are as much guilty of it too, so we decided to start the Less Waste More Living project.

Our challenge is to find simple, easy ways to take time out of consumerism and discover the pleasure and satisfaction of the simple things.

This will be a pictorial inspiration blog that you can follow on Instagram or join the Less Waste More Living community on Facebook


Plastic-free Cooking

by Livvy Drake

Every time I undertake the Lent Plastic Challenge, I find that the new recipes and products I discover, far outweigh the the things I go without. Often being ‘busy’ (our favourite word in this modern world), means I forget about the joy found being creativity in the kitchen. But, as the ‘busy’ doesn’t show signs of abating the creativity needs to be quick, easy and …. low packaging.  So here are just some of the alternatives I have discovered over the last few weeks:

  1. Home-made flatbread pizza – choosing a  yeast- free dough took minutes to make and I froze half the dough for mid-week meals.
  2. Roasted carrot curry sauce- A great friend gave me this recipe. Simply roast carrots with spices and blend to a puree
  3. Sweet potato or aubergine chips – Hemp flour, ground almonds, or leftover breadcrumbs are great for a crispy coating
  4. Mint avocado ice-cream – a creamy dream
  5. Coffee grind exfoliating scrub – mixing ‘used’ coffee grinds with coconut oil is a great wake-up experience.

These are just some of the recipes we have been sharing with those who joined the Lent Plastic Challenge, and due to their popularity we are bringing it all together in one place a ‘Low Waste More Living‘cook book.

The book will include:

  • How  to shop to avoid & minimise packaging
  • How to transform fruit & veg (they easiest non-packaged items) into delicious naughty treats.
  • How to prepare fresh food quickly & easily so you can enjoy healthy, convenient food and have time to enjoy living!


Why plastic ‘aint fantastic for Mother Nature

As we get ready for the Lent Plastic Challenge,today’s blog is all about the environmental impacts of plastics throughout it’s lifecycle.

Where does plastic come from?
Plastic is made from crude oil, which is mined/drilled around the world. Oil is a fossil fuel, meaning it was created thousands of years ago from fossil refinement and it is a finite resource that is running out.

IMPACT: This means the search for new oil reserves is heading into protected, virgin, delicate eco systems. Drilling for oil for plastics is directly implicated with Rainforest destruction in the Amazon.

How is plastic made?

Crude oil is mixed with chemicals to stabilise it. The process requires large quantities of energy and water.

IMPACT: Co2 emissions from production and transportation. Use of finite materials such as water and fossil fuels in it’s production.

Does plastic biodegrade or compost?
NO! Every piece of plastic that has been ever made still exists. It takes over 500 years for plastics to break down. Plastics in the oceans don’t biodegrade either they just break down into smaller particles.

IMPACT: Beaches and oceans littered with a fine glitter like layer of plastics.

But cant plastic be recycled?

The real meaning of recycling is to return a material to a similar state within a cyclical process (think paper and cans).
Plastic ‘recycling’ is confusing because:
a) There are so many types of plastics
b) Plastics get turned into other products in a downcycling process e.g broom handles, fleece jumpers.
c) In the UK, there is no consistent process, some could get recycled, downcycled, shipped abroad for incineration or buried in landfill.

What about all the plastic in the sea?
The 5 Gyres latest research suggests there are 268,000 tonnes of plastic in the oceans.
IMPACT: Plastic killing mammals and entering the food chain through fish and into humans.


How can you do your bit?
Whilst the prevalence of plastics shows no sign of abating (it is a cheap material), it is important that consumers and lobbying groups form to stand up against the plastics industry. Choosing to refuse and avoid single-use plastic items such as plastic bags, bottles, food containers and skin wash with microbeads in are a great start.


How does the Lent plastic challenge work?

If you think you could avoid plastic water bottles and microwaving meals in plastic tubs for 40 days you should join us on the Lent Plastic Challenge.

The Lent Plastic Challenge is not about throwing out every plastic item in your house.

Instead it’s about challenging your habits and shopping behaviours to see what single-use plastics you could ‘give-up’.

You could pick a couple of items and focus on those OR every week try and cut out another item, with the programme and support of the Green Livvy team.

What support is included in the Lent Plastic Challenge?

We will provide you with:

  • Weekly webinars containing advice, facts and motivation
  • Daily inspiration including videos and recipes
  • An online community to share your achievements, discoveries and challenges

How do I join?

Join the Lent Plastic Challenge Facebook Group or sign-up for email updates.

Want to find out more about plastics and health?

Further reading:

5 Gyres website
Plastic Coalition website

Hmm it doesn’t say plastic residue in the ingredients!

At Green Livvy we are getting ready for the Lent Plastic Challenge. Lent starts on 18th February, so not long now! We have received lots of questions and queries from our followers on why they should do it and what it entails. So in these blogs we will outline a number of issues with plastics and what is involved in giving up.

This blog is all about some of the health issues.


What is the problem with plastics for our health?

Plastics are made from oil and a cocktail of chemicals which give them their consistency- hard, squidy, soft, colourful etc. These chemical compounds such as BPA’s and phosphates have been linked with various health conditions including fertility & hormonal issues, cancer and birth defects.

You may have heard that you shouldn’t drink water from plastic water bottles that have heated up in the car. This is because the chemicals leach out into the water. It naturally follows that microwaving plastics also can have the same impact.

Understanding all the different types of plastics and their safety is a minefield and  whilst the advise and levels of toxicity between different plastics is constantly being scrutinised, would you want to risk it?

Current articles


How do I address the health implications of plastics heating up?

  • Avoid reusing plastic bottles and invest in a metal reusable bottle
  • Avoid food in plastic tubs
  • Do not microwave anything in a plastic tub

What are the side-effects of giving up single-use plastics?

It does take a little thought first of all to remember a water bottle, but like most habits if you do them enough they soon become second nature.

Some of the benefits include:

  • We save a fortune not buying plastic bottled drinks, and getting our reusable water bottle filled
  • We certainly feel healthier choosing to avoid foods in plastic pots especially microwave meals and vegetables. Have you ever noticed the chemical tastes on salads, chopped fruit and microwave vegetable sides- those are to keep the vegetables and fruit stable after they have been chopped up. Yuk!


How does the Lent plastic challenge work?

If you think you could avoid plastic water bottles and microwaving meals in plastic tubs for 40 days you should join us on the Lent Plastic Challenge.

The Lent Plastic Challenge is not about throwing out every plastic item in your house.

Instead it’s about challenging your habits and shopping behaviours to see what single-use plastics you could ‘give-up’.

You could pick a couple of items and focus on those OR every week try and cut out another item, with the programme and support of the Green Livvy team.

What support is included in the Lent Plastic Challenge?

We will provide you with:

  • Weekly webinars containing advice, facts and motivation
  • Daily inspiration including videos and recipes
  • An online community to share your achievements, discoveries and challenges

How do I join?

Join the Lent Plastic Challenge Facebook Group or sign-up for email updates.

Want to find out more about plastics and health?

Further reading: