Today marks Day 10 of Plastic Free July. When my husband and I decided to embark on a month without single-use plastics, I thought we had it nailed. I felt like I already lived a relatively plastic free life. I do my weekly produce shop at the local organic farmers markets with my own bags and baskets. I gave up disposable coffee cups a few months ago. I shun straws whenever I can. I use bamboo toothbrushes, and a silicon mat in place of baking paper. If I find myself at the regular supermarket, I don't go near those single-use off-the-roller plastic bags that everyone seems to wrap every piece of fruit and veggie in.
In the days leading up to July 1st, I sat down and made a list of all the plastic items that I rely on in my day to day life. Things like toothpaste, floss, face cleanser, moisturiser (ok, pretty much all cosmetics), cat food, cling wrap, the plastic that our meat and fish comes in... the list goes on. I was a bit taken aback with the amount of things on my list (maybe I'm not as good as I thought).
Thankfully, there are some great plastic free and zero waste blogs out there that describe alternatives to most of these things. I was blown away with the novelty some people show in their plastic free quests. These everyday folk are seriously committed to this eco cause. Needless to say, I was pretty inspired.
With these new ideas and inspiration in mind, on the night before July 1, we did a plastic free shop at Biome where we purchased things like a shampoo bar, apple cider conditioner in glass, package free soap, a face cleanser in glass, honeybee wraps (to replace cling wrap), and re-usable containers to purchase our meat and fish in (our butcher is happy to oblige). We made our own toothpaste in preparation, using bi-carb, coconut oil, sea salt and peppermint oil. We were pretty well prepared!
But I have to admit, it hasn't been as smooth sailing as I expected...
The past ten days have shown me that living a life with less plastic is possible, but it's not always easy. We've still managed to generate a sizable amount of plastic waste, despite our efforts. In addition to the plastic things we've still used at home (e.g. cat food), I've been keeping track of my 'fails' out and about in my daily life:
- Conference lunch that came in a plastic x 2; with plastic cutlery that was wrapped in plastic
- A conference mug that came wrapped in plastic
- Take-away lunch when (it seemed) there were no other options; came in plastic
- Plastic fork when I forgot to pack my own for lunch at uni
- Plastic cutlery at a friend's party
- Some plastic things gifted to me
- When the barista made my coffee in a regular take away cup including the plastic lid, then realised his mistake, then threw the whole thing in bin.
Some of these situations were genuinely out of my control, but some weren't. It's easy to see which ones could have been avoided with a bit of extra thought and planning. Considering this, I'm feeling even more confident about the rest of the month. I can see more clearly where I need to focus my plastic free attention, and I think I can do better. One of my saving graces so far has been the discovery of my local The Source Bulk Foods. This place is plastic free heaven! Seriously, check it out.
In the short time since July 1, I've become so much more aware of the plastics all around me, and how much people consume without a second thought. I'm trying to understand why this is and how we as a society can start to shift away from our throwaway habits.
Apart from the obvious, one of major but surprising benefits of this low plastic lifestyle has been simplification. My life and routines genuinely feel simplified, less complicated, and it's refreshing. Who wouldn't want that?
Want to keep up with my Plastic Free July journey? Head on over to instagram!