The 31st of July not only marked one more month left of winter, but also the end of Plastic Free July, an initiative to raise awareness around the use of single use disposable plastics and encourage people to #choosetorefuse!
Single use disposable plastics include coffee cups, straws, plastic bags and plastic bottles. Millions of these litter our water ways and are clogging up landfills as they do not breakdown. Essentially, all these single use items are causing big problems, for example, it’s estimated that Australians use over 1 billion disposable coffee cups every year…. And because they do not break down (yes even the “biodegradable” and “compostable” ones) they are still in our water ways, oceans, forests and basically everywhere else. Shocked yet? I was.
That’s why I decided to make a difference and give Plastic Free July a go. Although, I don’t use disposable coffee cups, straws or plastic bags, I would often buy items packaged in plastic - things like chocolate, toilet paper, bread and salad leaves. These were all essentials for me and came in plastic! So how could I buy all these things without plastic?
Luckily, I live near a bulk foods store called The Source and they stock a whole heap of yummy goodies in huge bins. All you need to do is grab a paper bag or bring your own, write the product code on it, scope up as much as you need and there is no plastic packaging involved! Plus, they also have chocolate. Now I can continue being a chocoholic without the plastic guilt.
I also found a small grocer that had loose salad leaves and heaps of plastic free items. Win!
The biggest challenge of Plastic Free July was not having the convenience of buying pre-packaged items if I was in a rush or just needed a snack. I also got very annoyed with the amount of plastic rubbish I saw on the streets and the people who ordered their coffee in a takeaway cup, but then sat down to drink it….
On the plus side, I found that I was eating less processed foods, and I snacked on fruit instead of chips. Because of the research I had done on the effects of plastic on the environment, I now know how to buy better and how to recycle better. I am also on the path to practising Zero Waste and have started a worm farm for my food scraps. Our bin barely has anything in it (no plastic liner) and I am also consuming more carefully! A win for the environment and me!
If you'd like more tips on how to be plastic free for the year, here is another article we wrote on plastic free alternatives - click here