Today is the first day of Plastic Free July! If you’ve not heard of this this ambitious personal challenge then it’s probably because it started in Australia only two years ago. I knew nothing of it until this post by @treadmyownpath was retweeted in my Twitter feed a few weeks ago and caught my eye.
I’ll admit that on first read I thought it was an excellent post but not a concept I could ever contemplate. Although a simple idea, surely giving up single-use plastics for a month is impossible? The blogger kindly suggests that if you can’t go the duration then perhaps you might like to try a week or even one shopping trip. Not for me, I thought. Shampoo bottles! Plastic tomato trays! Cling film! I have to admit though that it started some wheels slowly turning in my brain and every now and again I reconsidered whether it might actually be something I could tackle in a lesser form.
A while later a second post appeared on twitter and I realised that I had to take some action – even if I can’t begin to aim for a month without single-use plastics I am going to try and seriously cut it down and if nothing else, I will make conscious decisions about my use of plastics.
(Does anyone else notice that this is eerily similar to when I first read about the concept of giving up supermarkets for a month? I didn’t think I could do it but I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind then of course I did it and it’s changed my shopping habits irreversibly…)
So here goes, it’s the 1st of July and I’m cutting down on single-use plastics, challenging myself on those that I do use and looking for alternatives that will allow me to do better next time. I’ll incorporate this into my Meaner Greener Me blog and give weekly updates.
Here’s how I got on today…
The first thing that happened was that a big order of things arrived from the Ethical Superstore. I nervously opened it to find out how badly I’d failed before I’d even started. My order consisted of:
- 5 packs of toilet roll (wrapped in ‘plasticizer-free and fully compostable packaging’)
- a box of dishwasher tablets (cardboard box with tablets in plastic packaging)
- 12 tins of sweetcorn &12 tins of tomatoes (each group of 12 packaged in cardboard and plastic packaging)
- a bottle of washing up liquid (plastic bottle)
- 2 bags of dried apricots (wrapped in weird crinkly packaging that says 100% recyclable with a code I can look up to find out how)
- 2 bags of flour (paper bags)
While not perfect, it could be worse. Had I bought my usual brand of toilet roll at the supermarket, it would probably have been wrapped in plastic. I could have avoided the plastic on the tins at the supermarket but I’m guessing that they would have been wrapped like that to survive the journey from supplier to supermarket. Is there anywhere you can get washing up liquid that doesn’t come in plastic?….I’ve just done a quick search on the web and found these washing up fairies! Lovely but currently unavailable, I need to search again for the next time I need it. The bags of apricots are possibly plastic – I need to look up their code to find out if they are ‘less plastic’ than those I’d buy at the supermarket or, even better, maybe I can find apricots that are sold by weight and then packaged in brown bags? I know one or two places that may do this.
Most of my day was spent in the house with my children but we did venture out to get some ‘equipment’ we needed for recipes. (I am doing much more cooking lately in an attempt to reduce my food waste and my packaging). We bought some cake tins and some lolly sticks.
The sticks came in a small polythene bag but to compensate I refused a carrier bag and duly explained to the shop assistant (who couldn’t have been less interested!) that I was refusing a bag because it was Plastic Free July.
On returning home I decided to make some bread in our newly-purchased bread maker. I bought this as I believe home made bread to be healthier (at least you get to control what goes into it) and, in keeping with my ‘meaner greener me’ mindset, to avoid using the supermarket for bread as well as reducing the overall packaging.
Just as I was removing the newly baked loaf from the machine however I remembered that I usually wrap the finished article in cling film as I’ve not got around to buying a big enough tin for it. Determined not to use this unnecessary plastic however, I found my largest cake tin, ate the slice of cake that was left in it (needs must!), washed it out and sliced my loaf so that it could be accommodated.
As I was polishing my halo, I remembered one of the bread ingredients – the skimmed milk powder – comes in a container with a plastic lid! So more research is needed – I was right, cutting out single use plastics is very difficult!
If you want to read more about Plastic Free July then do look up the official website www.plasticfreejuly.org which is full of great tips about how to replace the plastic in your life and track those taking part with the hash tag plasticfreejuly Good luck!