My dear friend Cristina bravely announced on her social media account that she will be doing Plastic Free July next month and shared a post I wrote last year about this initiative. Some people were sceptical of the whole idea and said it would be impossible.
Reading the comments, I noticed there were a lot of misconceptions about the initiative, so today in preparation for the challenge, I would like to clarify a couple of important things and hopefully convince you to give it a go.
People often take the “plastic-free” literally and of course that mere idea of giving up all plastic put them off immediately.
For this challenge, plastic-free does NOT mean:
- You can’t continue using all the products with plastic packaging you already bought and have at home
- You can’t buy even one single product packaged in plastic
- You have to radically transform your life and your habits to fit this parallel and Utopian plastic-free world.
- You can’t use any form of plastic at all, not even reusable containers.
- You’ll need to buy all these expensive products and ruin your family budget.
The real goal of Plastic Free July is to gain awareness of how disposable plastic is everywhere and we often use it without even notice it. It is about paying attention to our habits and see what we can do to slowly reduce our plastic consumption.
It is not about setting unattainable and overwhelming goals, it is about doing something about this problem, starting really small.
I would suggest you read my post about how to prioritise your green changes effectively using the Pareto principle, and based on that decide the disposable plastic products you use the most. Then create a simple strategy to seek for alternatives and give it a go.
I already mentioned in my previous post about this topic, but it is worth mentioning it again: you can do plastic-free July for one day, one week or one month. It doesn’t matter as long as you are committed and willing to try it.
Shopping in general is one of the main sources of plastic waste and it causes a lot of concern when it comes to plastic-free living. Let’s face it, big supermarkets are just full of plastic. But don’t despair, these are some examples and simple ideas that you could explore for your Plastic Free July challenge (remember, you don’t have to do it all).
Take your reusable bags, including produce bags
Even when many supermarkets have banned carry-on plastic bags, they still provide plastic produce bags – which is a bit ironic.
Simply take your own reusable produce bags and buy loose produce. For more tips about reusable bags, check this post.
Leave the pre-packaged, ready-to-eat salad/greens/veggies on the shelf
Supermarkets have a big fridge section full of this stuff and I notice people really love the convenience of having these veggies ready, same for the frozen versions.
Go back to the simple and old-fashion method, buy loose veggies and invest extra 10-15 minutes washing/drying/chopping them. It doesn’t take that long.
One of my local big supermarkets sells loose salad mix and spinach, which you can buy using your reusable produce bags without any waste.
Get adventurous, try a different brand
Shopping often is one of those boring automatic tasks we have to do, so it becomes habitual and we always end up buying pretty much the same food and products.
If your usual brand/product comes in plastic, why don’t you try another brand that comes in paper/glass? Worst case scenario, you don’t like it and next time you try another one.
Buy meat at the butcher
If you are in Australia, check TrashLessTakeAway.com.au and use the filter to find butchers in your area that allow you to use your own own container to buy the meat. They tare the container to deduct its weight and that’s it.
Alternatively, just go to your local butcher and ask him if you can bring your own container. The worst thing that can happen is: they say no.
Buy milk in returnable glass bottles or make your own dairy free milk
If you drink cow milk, these days there are companies bringing the returnable/refillable glass bottles back to the game. In Australia, one of those companies is Chulz Organic Dairy, you can visit their website for all the details.
I personally drink dairy-free milk, and I make my own on regular basis, using oats and cashew nuts mainly. Google and you’ll find countless recipes to give it a go.
Shop beyond the supermarket
If you always go to the same supermarket and can’t find an alternative to a product you normally buy that comes in plastic, check what’s available locally. Visit other grocery shops, health shops, research online, ask your friends, check some Facebook groups or online forums.
These days there are many options, but often they are not available in the big supermarkets, although things are changing, slowly.
Be open to break the routine and try a different option. That leads me to the next point: bulk shops.
Visit a bulk shop near you
Nowadays, it is relatively easy to find a bulk shop. These places are amazing and you can buy wholefoods in the amount you need without any packaging. You can bring your own reusable bags and containers, or use paper bags.
Some products are cheaper in the supermarket as they sell volume, but not always. The other day my local bulk shop was closed and I ended up buying oats in the supermarket, to my surprise the price per kg was more expensive that in the bulk shop.
The prices for some products are about the same, in that case, buying in this places is ideal to reduce waste.
If you are on a tight budget, just compare and take advantage of the low prices for some of the products, buy the rest in the supermarkets. You’ll save some money and plastic packaging in the process.
Skip supermarket bread
Go to your local bakery, take your own reusable bag and ask them to put the bread in there. It is quite simple.
Here in Australia, one shop that is quite good and encourages customers to bring their own bag is Bakers Delight. But you can try this in any bakery you like.
Alternatively, bake your own bread. This option is more time consuming, but it is something to try.
Plastic-free inspiration from my blog
I have written a lot about plastic-free living in the past, these are some of those posts for inspiration:
Buy plastic-free toilet paper
Try shampo bars
Fresh food beyond the supermarket
6 Ways to deal with packaging in the supermarket
Simplify and reduce waste in your bathroom
5 Alternatives to reduce waste in your bathroom
Pick your own, my best solution for plastic-free berries
Clean your house naturally
A guide to switching to menstrual cloth pads
Bottled water and its burden on the planet
7 Ways to avoid disposable plastic on the go
The secret material in take-away coffee cups
How to stop using plastic to line the bin
BYO container, take-away without the waste
Visit Plastic Free July Website
If you are convinced and ready to give it a go, even for one day, please register following this link.
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” ― Anna Lappé
That’s it for today, let me know in the comments below: Are you doing plastic free July this year? What’s your biggest doubt/fear? Please share the info and tell your friends about it, we need more people learning about plastic pollution.
Thanks for reading,