So here we are in July already! Don’t ask me how it happened. Five minutes ago it was January I’m sure of it. This month, thanks to my environmentally conscious, animal loving thirteen year old, we are participating in ‘Plastic Free July‘. It doesn’t have the same ring to it as Dry July (no alcohol for a month) or Movember (growing a moustache to raise money for men’s mental health) but it’s still a thing I assure you.
A couple of days ago we went along to a screening of ‘A Plastic Ocean’, described by David Attenborough as ‘One of the most important films of our time’. We had already decided that we would participate in Plastic Free July but seeing the movie just strengthened our resolve. The idea that there is virtually no corner of our planet free of plastic litter is scary really.
Back to the old ways
Talking with the grandparents, they reminded us that in their youth, there was nothing particularly remarkable about what we are planning to do. String bags, cloth nappies and glass milk bottles were what you used, there being little in the way of other options. We agree and understand that things used to be different. We also know that we live in a society where convenience comes first and in order to behave differently, it takes a bit of effort. We know that for our family, we have reached a tipping point and we want to make a change.
Use less rather than recycle more
In our neighbourhood there is now the opportunity to swap our 240 litre yellow topped recycling bin for one 50% larger at 360 litres. The idea is that we would be doing our bit for the environment if we filled it up every week and recycled more waste plastic. However, we don’t buy into that philosophy. We think it’s better to reduce the amount of plastic we use rather than increase the amount we recycle. There’s a small but significant difference in mindset here that will result in much less plastic being thrown away by us.
What will change?
We have never been huge consumers anyway but have certainly bought our share of single use plastic water bottles and things wrapped in far too much plastic, then carried them home in a plastic shopping bag.
This Plastic free July challenge is certainly a work in progress. We are going in small steps. Firstly because we don’t want to make it so difficult to do that we give up and secondly because there is no point in throwing away plastic items that are in perfectly good condition in order to replace them with non-plastic items. That’s not what this is about for us. It’s when those items become unusable that we will look at alternatives.
Our Plastic Free July so far:
Committed not to use single use plastic shopping bags. I have dug out a cloth bag that used to live in my handbag but has somehow ended up in the wardrobe for the last few years. This way if I pop into the shop to grab a couple of things I will always have a bag with me. I also have a collection of larger cloth grocery bags in the boot of my car which I take with me when doing the grocery shop. We did find it a little difficult in the vegetable department the other day but I managed to put the capsicum, corn, bananas and broccoli into my own bag rather than use a plastic one for each item.
Purchased a solid shampoo bar instead of a bottle of shampoo. I have to say I was skeptical about this one at first but it creates a beautiful lather and leaves my hair feeling clean but not stripped. I haven’t felt the need to use conditioner with it yet.
Bought a safety razor. Yes this was an expensive purchase but over time there will be a significant amount of plastic and money saved. I believe that the days of shaving legs in the shower are now over, as to do that will take longer, using more water and be more dangerous, but that’s a small price to pay.
Bought in bulk. Instead of buying a small bottle of hand wash we have purchased a large one and small refillable bottles. No, we have not stopped buying plastic completely but this large bottle is the equivalent of 20 small bottles we will not be throwing away. Whilst not being the most exciting colour, it does the job and saves us money too.
Changed toothbrushes. Not something I would have though about myself, this was my very keen daughter’s initiative. Hers is bamboo with charcoal infused bristles and she is very happy with the way it cleans.
Committed to using our metal water bottles. We have aways had these but we have made a commitment to ensure we take them with us every time we leave the house. We don’t want to be tempted to buy water while we are out.
Plastic Free July going forward
Yes, we have purchased a few things to get us going but they were items we needed to buy anyway and we have tried to get the most plastic free, environmentally friendly versions. I’m not sure what the rest of the month will bring but we are continually on the lookout for a better way to do things.
Perhaps our actions won’t make a huge difference by themselves but small actions can tend to snowball into larger things. We will keep you posted.
What can you do to help reduce the amount of plastic you use and/or throw away? Pop your comments below and let’s see if we can begin to make a difference.