It is June 30th, which means tomorrow (which is in less than one hour, as I type this!) is the official start of Plastic Free July. According to their website, Plastic Free July is a challenge “to refuse single-use plastic during July…Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the problems with single-use disposable plastic and challenges people to do something about it.”
After becoming more aware of the zero waste and plastic free movements, I have signed up for my first ever Plastic Free July. I love that the challenge is really low-key, with no specific tasks you must complete. Rather, the challenge is as far as you want to take it. I thought I’d record things I’m doing and not doing for PFJ, so I can check in at the end of the month and see how I went. Here goes!
What I’m Doing for PFJ
1. Refusing any single-use plastic
I’ve already started this a few months ago by bringing my own canvas bags with me wherever I go, eliminating a large amount of single use plastic in the form of shopping bags and vegetable bags. In July I’m hoping I can step it up a notch, avoiding all products that come in plastic packaging, as well as any plastic that may come from non-food products. This will be a challenge for me, but I’m planning ahead as best as I can. I’ve sewn my own ‘sandwich bags’ and cloth napkins, and I’ve been pleased with how I’ve gone living without things I thought were essential thus far.
2. Transitioning all my food containers from plastic to glass
There are a lot of bloggers out there who can articulate this issue a lot better than me, but basically, plastic is not good for your health, and keeping food that you consume in plastic, much less heating it up in plastic, is not ideal. So, through the month of July I will be slowly swapping all my food storage containers and Tupperware over to glass containers, to the best of my ability. I’ve said ‘transitioning’ and not ‘swapping’ deliberately, as I don’t want to go out and buy full sets of brand new products – that goes against the idea of zero waste entirely! So far I’ve repurposed two coffee jars, found three cork-topped glass jars in a cupboard, and bought two glass jars second-hand. The process may take longer, but I believe in buying the least amount of new items possible (my frugal side likes it too!).
3. Passing on any unused products
As I embrace a more minimalist lifestyle, I’ll be examining the things I use and don’t use and passing them on to people I think will have use of them. For example, I have several eyeshadow palettes and blushes that I’ve purchased that I can’t see myself using as I cut back my beauty routine. I do, however, know people who would get use out of these products, so instead of throwing them out, I’ll give them to someone who’ll use them.
4. Continuing to keep an open mind and continuing to research plastic free and zero waste lifestyles
This isn’t even a challenge, as I’ve been obsessed with discovering new zero waste bloggers and I love reading all the tips, recommendations and recipes they have to offer! It’s not a coincidence that the zero waste lifestyle is also super pretty, and appeals to all my minimalist sensibilities. If you’d like to get reading, here are some blogs I’m currently obsessing over: Zero Waste Chef / Paris to Go (everything about this girl is #goals) / Wasteland Rebel / Gippsland Unwrapped / The Rogue Ginger / Going Zero Waste (I’ve got my eye on her deodorant recipe, for when my current aerosol runs out) / Litterless (SUCH a gorgeous blog).
What I’m Not Doing for PFJ
1. Replacing all my existing products
Like I’ve said, going out and buying all-new items kind of goes against the idea of minimising waste. At the moment, I use a lot of items packaged in plastic – makeup, toothpaste, medication, just to name a few. I’m a long way from being completely package free. But I’m not going to throw out everything I own so I can start from scratch. I’m going to use up everything I have, and then seek out sustainable alternatives. For example, I know I can buy plastic free vegan floss from The Cruelty Free Shop, but I have two rolls of floss sitting in my bathroom. I’m not going to throw them out for the sake of being explicitly package free. I’d love to simplify my face wash, my body wash and my shampoo into one package free bar of soap. But I’m going to use up all those products before I replace them with a bar of soap (probably this one, I’ve done some research!).
2. Blowing the budget
This is a tough one to say, but I feel like the gist is already out there. I really want to prioritise the planet and do the best I can, but unfortunately I still have to pay my rent. So that’s why I’m going to be buying some of my beans and legumes in potentially plastic-lined cans from the supermarket instead of dry from the bulk store down the road. Some items I’m willing to pay a little more for – my usual $3 one-month supply of oats will set me back around $4.50 for the same amount at the bulk food store (or $7.50 organic), but it’s impossible to get oats that aren’t in single-use plastic, and $7.50 for a month of breakfasts isn’t bad at all. Chickpeas on the other hand, come in recyclable cans (I know recycling is still creating waste, see next point), and cost me around 75c a can, or $1.88 a kilo. At the bulk store they cost $16.95 a kilo. Considering the amount I use every week, I just can’t justify the change. My primary aim for the the next month is to avoid single use plastic, so then later, as I get more comfortable, I can potentially make further changes.
3. Feeling guilty or beating myself up
‘Zero waste’ or ‘plastic free’ can be a bit of a misnomer, as it is so hard to achieve. I literally only stumbled across these concepts a few weeks ago, so I’m not going to beat myself up for the decisions I’m making. I’m going to do the best I can for the next month, and if I find myself having to buy some plastic or forgetting to refuse a straw, I won’t feel guilty, and most importantly, I won’t give up on the challenge. This is about slow change that is sustainable, not drastic changes that I’ll give up later to go back to a ‘normal’ life. I’m unlearning lots of life-long habits and teaching myself lots of new skills that will have a positive effect on our planet. And as Kathryn from Going Zero Waste so wisely says, “It’s not about perfection; it’s about making better choices.“
Now it’s your turn! What are you going to be doing or not doing for Plastic Free July?