I won’t lie, I had lofty ambitions for Plastic Free July: reducing waste, overhauling a lifestyle and a stepping towards changing the world. I wouldn’t describe it as a complete disaster but neither has it been an unmitigated success. I knew it would be difficult and I had made a mental note to try my best but not obsess. Even so, I wasn’t quite prepared for the amount of preparation needed to go plastic-free for a month. The amount of time it takes, at least initially, to remove plastic from your lifestyle could be a full time job, researching, sourcing and making.
Take snacks for example, a big source of single-use plastic in my house. Plastic-free snacks required finding recipes, sources plastic-free ingredients and then making/baking them not to mention tidying up afterwards Versus popping to the shop. Were they tastier? Yes. Were they healthier? Probably. Did I feel better about eating them? Definitely. But it’s easy to see why most of us choose convenience over conscience.
On the other hand, bringing single-use plastic to the front of mind for a month has been an enlightening and often enjoyable experience. Making and creating things for ourselves along with sourcing more ethical goods has been rewarding and a lot of fun and hopefully something we can make part of our everyday lives. We’re not quite done yet but already I’m much more aware and in touch with our consumption as a family and can see many more ways to reduce our impact over time, if not immediately.
Here are some of our top successes and challenges of my Plastic Free July
Fruits & vegetables - with a combination of local veg box delivery schemes and different supermarkets it was quite easy to shop for fresh produce without the plastic.
Cheese - a pretty essential element in our house and being too disorganised to get to a farmer’s market meant our cheese continued to come in plastic
Soaps & scrubs - using a soap pouch instead of shower gel was a hit and an easy change to make and so too was making my own (delicious) sugar scrub.
Citrus cleaner - missed the boat in this one as the vinegar/citrus peel mix required at least three weeks to stew and think about itself. It’ll be ready at the beginning of August!
Packed lunches - more often than not I remembered and prepared a packed lunch for me and the little one about 70% of the time. Not to mention packing a reusable coffee cup and water bottle. With more time and foresight I could do even better with this one.
Packed lunches - not a total failure but found myself caught unawares on a number of occasions and giving in to an M&S sandwich.
Snacks - I admit to feeling a little smug about homemade granola bars, hummus and baby purées.
And the award for trying but not quite succeeding goes to the cafe that offered a metal straw for £1 when you bought an iced drink. Which they served in a disposable plastic cup.
All in all the biggest tip I could give to anyone looking to go plastic-free is be prepared to be prepared. Give yourself time and don’t be too hard in yourself!
Find out more about the actions you can take to be part of the solution to plastic pollution.