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Fray Bentos for the first time, no chicken or salad and a bamboo toothbrush: Meet the man who gave up plastic for Lent!

Photographer Luke MacGregor gave up plastic for Lent and it was harder than he anticipated. Credit: Luke MacGregor

Some people give up chocolate, others biscuits and cakes or alcohol.

But for Lent this year, photographer Luke MacGregor decided to abstain from single-use plastic for 40 days - and it produced some surprising results.

The 44-year-old from West Meon, Hampshire, inadvertently found himself giving up chicken, because it was impossible to buy it without plastic packaging in supermarkets.

A traditional salad - a staple feature of his daily diet - was also eliminated after it proved difficult to buy lettuce, cabbage, rocket, cucumber or celery which was not encased in plastic.

But he did enjoy a Fray Bentos for the first time, as the pie does not come in plastic packaging, and switched to using a bamboo toothbrush.

Tinned sardines on toast also became his go-to dish for convenience instead of microwave meals which are all covered in plastic.

Mr MacGregor told ITV News: "The experiment has made me much more aware of how much plastic there is everywhere and how blind we are to it.''

The non-plastic items that made up Luke's weekly shopping list. Credit: Luke MacGregor

It was a tweet from Christian charity Tearfund setting out the challenge to give up single-use plastic for Lent that spurred Mr MacGregor into action.

He explained: "I usually like to give up something for Lent. In the past it has been chocolate, or alcohol, cakes and biscuits. This year I wanted to give up something more meaningful.

"And the truth is, the challenge has been hard! Everything seems to be covered in plastic, especially food and you don't realise until you try to stop how much of it is unnecessary.

"For example, I was given a trowel that was hung on plastic, it doesn't need the protection!"

One of the first changes Mr MacGregor made was to have his milk delivered in glass bottles instead of buying it in plastic cartons from a supermarket.

He also switched to a muesli in a cardboard box as his usual choice came in plastic packaging.

Non-plastic options which featured heavily on his shopping list included tinned food and cheese encased in wax instead of plastic.

  • Scroll down to see how Mr MacGregor transformed his shopping lists and meal plans in order to complete the challenge
Mr MacGregor said he became much more aware of how much food produce is needlessly covered in plastic. Credit: Luke MacGregor

Microwave meals had to go as they are all covered in plastic and prompted Mr MacGregor to find a quick and easy alternative.

"I've been surprised by how tasty Fray Bentos pies are. I've eaten hardly any salad. It has been impossible to buy lettuce, rocket, watercress, or cucumber that was not covered in plastic or in plastic bags," he said.

"Thankfully tomatoes come loose and red peppers but it's not been the same. I've also eaten more eggs than I would normally as I pretty much gave up eating chicken as it's all covered in plastic in supermarkets.

"When I did eat meat it was once a week and involved going to my local butchers with a tupperware box to buy cheaper cuts of meat such as sausages, bacon or mince.

''My diet also changed to become more vegetarian simply because so much meat is covered in plastic.

''I also switched from a plastic toothpaste to Euthymol which is in a metal casing - but it does have a plastic red lid however that's only 5% plastic so it's not so bad.

''I will also be switching to a bamboo toothbrush when my old one needs replacing.''

Mr MacGregor replaced his toothbrush and toothpaste for non-plastic options. Credit: Luke MacGregor

Lent came to an end on Thursday and, having completed the challenge successfully, Mr MacGregor said he won't be returning to his old ways and he urged others to give the experiment a go.

He said: "This year I feel like there has to be a commitment on my part to make a conscious decision to change and try and reduce my plastic consumption where I can.

''I would say to others thinking about following my example, next time you're in supermarket, give it a go and see how easy or hard it is for you to give up single-use plastic.''

Plastic meal plan: Monday : Spaghetti bolognese with salad Tuesday : pre-prepared chicken with green beans and mash Wednesday : chorizo and bean stew with microwave rice Thursday : fish cakes with salad Friday : microwave chicken tikka masala and rice Saturday : bacon and eggs Sunday : roast chicken, potatoes gravy and veg

Non-plastic meal plan: Monday : Lasagne with tomato and avocado salad Tuesday : Frozen breaded fish with peas, sweetcorn and potato wedges Wednesday : baked eggs with tomato and red peppers, with roast potatoes Thursday : Sardines in spicy tomato sauce with rice Friday : Ready-made pie, carrots and homemade mash Saturday : bacon and eggs Sunday : Toad in the hole, gravy, mash and broccoli in cheese sauce

Regular shopping list

supermarket muesli 2.20 Yorkshire Tea 4.00 Coffee pods 3.50 Milk (2 x 2pints) 1.60 spaghetti 1.30 Mince 3.00 Onions 3pack .85 garlic .60 salad leaves (2 bags) 2.40 Cherry Tomatoes .85 Cucumber .60 Peppers bagged x3 1.10 green beans 1.10 prepared mash x2 2.00 raspberries 3.00 Parmesan 3.00 Cheddar 3.00 St Agur cheese 1.60 prepared chicken 3.75 chorizo 2.00 beans .55 microwave rice .60 tin of tomatoes .35 fish cakes 2.65 Chicken tikka masala 3.50 Bacon 1.75 eggs .85 Chicken 3.50 baby potatoes 1.00 Warburtons seeded bread 1.35 biscuits .75 Haribo 1.00 Knorr gravy pots 1.00 Toothbrush 2.00 Toothpaste 1.00 bin bags 1.85 butter 1.50 crisps 1.50 cream 1.00 nuts and raisins 1.50 crackers 1.00 scotch egg 1.00

Non-plastic shopping list:

Pimhill Organic muesli 3.49 (Milk and More) Brew Tea Co. tea bags 7.95 (Waitrose) Eden Project coffee pods 3.50 (Waitrose) milk 5 x pints delivered 4.05 (Milk and More) Lasagne sheets .67 (waitrose) 200g Mince, 4 sausages 4 rashers bacon 7.30 ( Harriotts : Meon Valley Butchers) onions .38 tomatoes 1.20 carrots .29 avocados x2 1.70 lemon .30 peppers loose x2 1.10 eggs 12 1.70
steak pie 3.00 broccoli .29 garlic .30 potatoes 1.00 sardines 1.00 tins of tomatoes x3 1.05 tin of peas .40 oxo 1.00 flour .60 sugar .70 Scotts porridge oats 1.25 Lyons golden syrup 1.15 butter 1.50 seeded bread 1.45 (Waitrose - in paper bag) Godminster Cheddar 5.00 (alternatively Black Bomber) Shepherds Purse Harrogate blue 2.50 (Waitrose) frozen breaded fish 3.00 tin of soup .45 fruit and nuts 2.00 Holland and Barratt kidney beans .40 chickpeas .55 Uncle Ben's long grain rice 2.00 Euthymol toothpaste 2.00 Humble Brush toothbrush 4.99 Wild Thyme health food shop or Waitrose online biodegradable caddy bin liners 2.50 apples 1.50 Cadburys cream egg x2 1.00 Rowntrees fruit pastilles .65 Mentos fruit sweets .65