Plastic Free July was a really interesting experience for me. It’s funny how much you suddenly notice that there is plastic packaging on just about everything. I’m relatively happy with how I did but there is definitely a long way to go to reducing single use plastics even more in my life.
The biggest key to success for me in Plastic Free July was preparation. Carrying my Keepcup, a reusable shopping bag, my cutlery set and my water bottle with me at basically all times while I was out made a huge difference to being able to avoid the ‘top 4’ single use plastics of coffee cups, plastic bags, plastic straws (and I’m putting plastic cutlery in with this) and plastic bottles.
I did end up using disposable coffee cups twice at the very end of July as I went to Hobart and didn’t take my Keepcup with me and sitting in wasn’t an option as I was at the markets. I did however not use a plastic lid for my chai so I feel that counts as a small improvement over the alternative. I feel like I did a pretty good job of avoiding the top 4 plastics and made decent progress on reducing single use plastic packaging but I still feel like I have a very long way to go. But this is the first time that I’ve committed to something like this in a formal way so I’m trying to be gentle on myself and acknowledge that these kinds of changes take time to implement more fully across the various aspects of your life.
There were quite a few things I was happy with in terms of my progress during Plastic Free July:
- I (mostly) succeeded in avoiding the top 4 during July
- I was able to have some discussions both in person and online about the products I use to help me with waste and plastic reduction
- I managed to get myself into a bulk ordering group for Who Gives A Crap toilet paper which cut down on the cost of ordering it and also meant that I successfully managed to avoid plastic wrapping on my toilet paper during July
- taking my reusable bags with me when I just duck to the shops is starting to become more of a habit and less something I have to think about as much.
The biggest areas of plastic packaging I noticed in my home across the month of July were:
- meat – I primarily buy my meat from the Farmers Market and it’s already portioned and vacuum sealed in plastic for health reasons (and presumably also to make sale easier as the prices are already marked) so although this is bringing single use plastic into my home, it is supporting local farmers so I’m happy with the compromise.
- baby spinach/beans/Brussels sprouts/berries – these fruit and veggies are the biggest offenders for me, even at the Farmers Market. These all come in either pre-portioned plastic bags or plastic punnets for ease of selling at the market and I’m yet to find a seller that sells them loose. This might be one area where it’s not enough for me to just look, I need to ask.
- cheese – I buy grated cheese as well as blocks of cheese which are both packaged in single use plastic. The feta I buy is in glass jars though and I reuse those jars after I’ve finished the feta.
- yoghurt – we go through about a kilo of Greek yoghurt a week (Grace just loves it) and the yoghurt I buy is in a plastic container. I recently purchased this homemade yoghurt kit so I’m hoping to give that a try shortly to see if I can manage to make my own.
- milk – I drink soy milk which comes in a tetra pack and Grace drinks cows milk which comes in a plastic container. If I could find a seller locally that sold milk in a glass bottle I would definitely try that. This is another area that I need to look into more.
- parcels – although the shopping ban helped this one a bit I still had some parcels arriving throughout the month and the plastic parcel envelopes added to my plastic rubbish for the month. Same goes for the plastic that my magazine subscriptions come in.
The things I’d like to improve on:
- making my own – I’d really like to try making my own yoghurt and other products to reduce on waste and unnecessary plastic packaging. I make majority of my own meals but I’d really like to try making products I would normally buy.
- speaking up and asking questions – this is the thing I find hardest about trying to make these changes. I can be quite a shy person and take the path of least resistance so it can be hard for me to be vocal when it comes to things like this. I want to get better at asking sellers at the Farmers Market what options there might be to reduce the amount of plastic and buy more loose produce or to just have a chat to them to see what they think about all this. I think it will definitely be slow going on this front as it involves putting myself out there a bit more than I’m probably comfortable with, but it’s an important enough issue for me to experience a bit of discomfort for.
- researching alternatives – when I’m seeing no plastic-free options for products I really do need to get better at actually doing the research and finding out what alternatives are out there that I might not have considered. Not being limited to what is physically available in front of me is one of the great things about the internet and I need to harness it more to do some research and find out what my options really are.
What do you find to be the plastic offenders for you? What things would you like to improve on in reducing plastic?
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