Before I became amazing on Instagram stories – i.e. last weekend. I embarked on a personal journey of attempting plastic free July. Plastic Free July is one of those self-defined things… kind of like 48-hour famine was not but you made it so you could eat lollies but not real food. So I decided I would not purchase any food related items with plastic. Let’s be clear I was fully aware I would fail at the outset, this is primarily due to the fact that in my house we drink a lot of milk and milk does not come in plastic-free containers. So, I started the month with a large degree of trepidation with my “plastic-free July except for milk” mantra.
was brilliant, I forced my boyfriend awake at 8.30 dragged him to the farmers markets because I realised another thing not readily available in plastic-free packaging was pasta and I heard that the markets had pasta. They did, but it was prohibitively expensive. They also sold all their oranges in plastic netted bags. But I went on my merry way purchasing fairly expensive, probably fantastic quality goods, and eliminated two offers of plastic. I was glowing from righteousness.
Until I checked Instagram and the #plasticfreejuly and realised that almost everything I bought had an elastic band. Strike 1.
I brought my own containers to a deli. I know, I’m amazing. The deli, also amazing, was happy to use my containers after chucking them on a quick cycle wash in their dishwasher. Then all hell broke loose, while I went looking for plastic-free bread (I’ll come back to that), the dishwasher went nuts and decided to do a THREE MINUTE cycle rather than a 30 second one. Then the poor delicatessen women cut her finger – not on my containers because they were plastic (hey I said no new plastic) but something else.
In the end, I got my food, wrapped in plastic in my plastic containers. Strike 2.
were weekdays, so it was relatively easy to not buy plastic. I still most definitely used plastic.
Buoyed by the success of the week I create myself a portable “plastic free” kit that I can transfer from handbag to handbag – It contains chopsticks and a glass straw I bought on 29 June. I realised early that buying meat would be incredibly hard during plastic-free July, so plastic-free July is also meat-free July except for takeaway/eating out. Also realised that I don’t like asking people if they accept BYO containers.
I need cheese. I need cheese so I can make toasties. As I’m already breaking the rules I go a bit bananas and buy three plastic packaged items. Strike 3.
A very prominent food delivery service launches in Canberra. I must order from them. Mostly (and this continues with my experience post July) the food comes in recyclable or compostable materials, except for the plastic bag it’s wrapped in.
… look it’s pretty much like this back and forth the rest of the month, flowing between righteousness, extreme guilt, and fatigue.
Lessons from Plastic-Free July:
Plastic is everywhere, even when you don’t want it to be. Like the following things you didn’t know had plastic and will now haunt you like that moment when you realise most commercial tea bags contain plastic. YOU ARE DRINKING PLASTIC! Another, fairly obvious lesson – fruit and vegetable do not need plastic, they often have their own natural protective layer.
Many thousands of questions also became apparent after this experiment. For instance if something is in liquid resistant paper i.e. plastic lined is it better to just buy the straight out plastic version because then you know it can be recycled?!
Would love to hear of your attempts at sustainability and any ideas you have to reduce plastic in your life!