Plastic free July: what is it and why I’m taking part

I thought I was pretty savvy with my waste, I recycle as much as I can: glass, plastic bottles, paper, tins. I even go out of my way to recycle old clothes, books and batteries. Until recently I came across #plasticfreejuly, and as with anything new, I started doing some reading. Take a look at your un-recyclable objects before you throw them away and you will soon start seeing that the same items comes up time and time again. Everything comes in so much  unnecessary packaging, sometimes an object will come in a plastic container and the whole container will be wrapped in further plastic wrap! And even though you may do your best to recycle this plastic, it more often gets down-cycled or made into a lower grade plastic product which then cannot be recycled. At least with glass and metal recycling they can pretty much be remade into a similar object.

And it’s not just in the kitchen products, think of all of the toiletries on your bathroom shelf. All of the cleaning products under the kitchen sink. It’s not just the bottles either, its toothbrushes (do we recycle those?), the microbeads (which the UK government are working hard to ban), it’s even found woven into some of your tea bags! I was astounded once I started digging around my house just how much single use plastic I had lying around.

But all is not lost, and that is why I have decided to take the pledge to “refuse single use”. Your initial thoughts may be to throw as much single use plastic out of the house and start again, but hang fire! This kind of defeats the object. The best way is to use up what you have FIRST and then replace with plastic free alternatives. The aim is not to do this completely overnight but gradually change your habits over time.

Plastic free1

This is just the packaging involved for making my lunch

plastic free2

Snapshot of my bathroom shelf

As someone who has a sensitive tummy it wasn’t all as simple to replace some items with alternatives. Particularly the free from items and even more so with specifically low FODMAP foods. However some tips I have found so far that can help make a start:

  • Buy loose fruit and veg instead of prepackaged
  • If you already buy loose veg but put each into little plastic bags, do you really need this bag? If so take some small cloth or produce bags to the supermarket instead
  • Opt for loose leaf tea instead of tea bags, but be careful here your leaves may still come in plastic so either buy the little sealed paper bags from small shops or get your tea in a pretty tea tin
  • If avoiding milk try making your own! Oat milk is the simplest, quickest and can be done without a blender. Or even for nut milk all you need is a blender a muslin cloth and a bit of planning to allow soaking over night
  • Use bars of soap instead of bottles
  • Do you really need all of those moisturisers? I counted I have five which essentially all do the same. I plan to move to an oil based product such as coconut or almond
  • I have been using Lush products for a couple of years now and although there products come in little plastic pots you can take them back for them to reuse. Plus you get a free product if you return a certain number of pots
  • Always go armed with a packed lunch, snacks and a bottle of water. You may have to get into the kitchen a bit more for this one but planning helps. And as someone who has specific food requirements this is one I was already doing.
  • When out refuse a straw with your drink. It serves a purpose for 10 minutes then spends a lifetime in landfill
  • Don’t be disheartened if your make a mistake we are all human. This is a transition and not an overnight change

So generally it has meant that I have been thinking more before buying a product. Do I really need this? Can I use something that I already have at home? Can it be bought in a different container such as glass or tins? Can I make this at home?  And that doesn’t always have to be food either, it is possible to make some bathroom products also. Over the next few weeks I intend to get making some of the products that I regularly buy such as milk, yogurt, and maybe even some cheese. I will keep  you posted!

 

Further information and resources can be found at:

Plastic free July

My plastic free life

 

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