Getting Ready For Plastic Free July
Have you heard of Plastic Free July? It's a campaign to raise awareness of our enormous consumption of single use plastic in our daily lives, and encourages people to realise that if each of us makes a small difference, it can have a collective benefit for all of us.
We are transitioning more and more to as close as we can get to a zero-waste lifestyle - so this year, we thought we'd jump on board and keep a record of how easy (or how hard!) it is to go without single use plastic for a month.
There are a lot of things that we have been doing for a while to minimise our use of plastic, which is going to make this challenge much easier. Like carrying Keep Cups & lightweight steel lunch boxes if we know we'll be eating out and needing an alternative to the plastic options otherwise offered; refusing plastic shopping bags and either using our own or if necessary our hands (!!); never buying bottled water but always carrying our own refillable stainless steel containers, and not purchasing cut fruit and veggies in plastic wrapped styrofoam containers.
First of all, we thought "this is easy, we can do this for the whole month no troubles!"
But then.... we started noticing just how much plastic has crept into our daily lives without us noticing, and we were a little shocked.
Consider these everyday "greener" packages which involve single use plastic:
- Glass bottles with plastic lids (deodorant, moisturiser, etc.)
- Glass bottles with plastic pump tops (cleanser, foundation, shampoo, etc.)
- Cardboard tubes, packets or boxes with plastic labels and wrapping (boxes of spices wrapped in plastic, brown paper bags with clear plastic viewing patches, cardboard boxes with plastic tape, etc.)
Because the aim here is to reduce plastic consumption, and not overwhelm everybody, the campaign focusses on getting people to create their own challenge. You can commit for 1 day, 1 week or the whole month. You may avoid takeaway containers, disposable coffee cups & plastic straws, or refuse plastic shopping bags, or even go entirely plastic-free.
We'll be avoiding takeaway containers, using our own produce bags & glass bottles to purchase all of our food, using bulk stores for refills, and making lots of our own food to avoid using plastic packaging (like tortillas and pappadums wrapped in plastic) - but we will be using makeup & hair products which have plastic lids (at least until we can find some better alternatives).
This campaign is all about finding solutions - so for the whole month of July, we'll be featuring products and brands that are providing solutions, and posting recipes for cleaning and cosmetics that you can make yourself, using bulk-purchased items.
We'll be posting tips and tricks of our finds, too.
GETTING PREPARED SO WE CAN HIT THE GROUND RUNNING
We've been busy little beavers sourcing local shops where we can get bulk goods from, and stocking up on produce bags that can be used over and over. We keep several vintage wicker baskets in the car (sourced from op shops), as well as a gorgeous woven market bag we purchased in Portugal last year, which are used to hold the produce. (We do have some tote style shopping bags made from hessian, but honestly it feels so romantic to use the wicker baskets that they are the ones we reach for!)
For the produce bags themselves, we've purchased a couple of sets of Onya bags which are made from 100% recycled plastic drink bottles, and a couple of sets of organic cotton solid cloth & woven net bags, which are great for bread & flour. We purchased the Onya bags from the Enviro Shop here in Melbourne, because they have become so popular that they were sold out on line (how encouraging is that?!!). The organic cotton bags were also bought from the Enviro Shop at Northcote.
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO USE LESS PLASTIC
- Buy bread from bakeries, and ask the staff to put the loaf straight into your own cloth bag.
- Purchase fruit and veggies from farmers markets, fruit & veggie providores or fresh food markets so you can buy them loose and pack straight into your own bags. If a supermarket does have pack your own fruit & veg, that's great & we're happy to use it, as it encourages them to use this system more - instead of those dreadful pre-packed plastic boxes. We prefer to support the little stores though, which is where we do most of our shopping.
- Eat seasonal food only. If it's in season, chances are you can buy it unpackaged.
- Switch to bamboo and bio-nylon bristle tooth brushes which can be put in your own compost bin to break down. We use Pearl Bar tooth brushes, which we love as they actually work and do break down. (Be wary of green-washing: lots of brands of bamboo tooth brushes still use standard nylon bristles, which have to be removed from the bamboo handle and put in a recycling bin for processing.)
- Carry a glass or steel coffee cup & water bottle to fill your own. This is one of the simplest, but most effective, things we can ALL do to make a difference.
- Buy in bulk from bulk produce stores. Take your own bags & glass bottles to purchase everything from detergent, to shampoo, to nuts, flours, cacao, and spices - and everything in between! There are more and more stores popping up around the world, so let's encourage their business model.
So what do you think? Are you up for the challenge, or would like to follow along on our Plastic Free July journey? We're looking forward to it, and learning lots as we go.
You can register for the challenge yourself, or simply learn more about it, here:-