Plastic free July. This is not about egos or being too busy to ‘take on new stuff’. It’s not about ‘oh but my beloved glad wrap or zip locks’… It’s about taking a month to explore a new way that quite literally means we hand down our planet in better shape than it is, to our kids. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that incredibly positive collective action step.
I never really considered myself ‘an activist’ because I didn’t feel comfortable with the stereotype – the guy hanging off a Greenpeace boat in the middle of the ocean… BUT, I think activism gets a bad wrap, for the purpose of the people who want to keep activists looking like crazy people to stop people like you and me connecting to the bigger problems in the world and doing something about our world that’s greedy in lots of the wrong places these days.
No. Activism can be as simple as being vocal about what’s in stuff that’s harming us or our planet. So, I guess that makes me one. I guess that makes lots of you ones too. Then, when normal every day people like you and I say we’re activists, and still enjoy beach holidays and champagne and feasts with friends and an icecream in the summer time… Then it’s not so ‘extreme’ to be green. That really excited me when I thought all of that through and decided to work to help people learn and change in a happy, empowered way… So, plastic free July. Here we come, right?
“Think about it…why would you make something that you are going to use for a few minutes out of a material that’s basically going to last forever. What’s up with that?” – Jeb Berrier, BagIt movie.
I once was the girl with the 10 plastic shopping bags once a week, the individually wrapped produce such as 1 cucumber in 1 plastic bag. I had the 2 takeaways of some kind whether a smoothie or a coffee every day, the glad wrap around all manner of things that needed preserving in my cupboard and fridge. I was a bartender for years proudly insisting on ‘2 straws to garnish’… I could seriously go on and on…
This month long challenge isn’t at all about being a perfect plastic free person. This is about taking in tips and tricks over a month, and employing new habits that change the future of our planet. The time is now, in fact, there’s no time to lose.
So, join plastic free July. Rebecca Prince-Ruiz is the inspiring woman behind it and it started in WA 4 years ago as a nice little community idea. It’s now celebrated in several countries and each year, we do it, because you can never ditch enough plastic and every year without fail, I find another thing to do better.
So, this isn’t about being ‘the best plastic ditcher out of everyone’. This is about taking a couple of steps in our own lives, to be better than we were yesterday. Forget everyone else. Just beat your current best and that will absolutely be a win. For you, your health and the planet. This is what that plastic we’re all using looking like in a few years or decades… when it’s inside bird’s tummies who live in remote parts of the planet, it’s pretty scary stuff and it’s time to sort that out. We’re seriously stingy humans if we don’t. W’re the well educated ones in the so called developed world – if we don’t start taking responsibility, I often wonder: Who will?
So, rather than doom and glooming this to buggery, let’s get positive.
Let’s talk change.
Here are a few tips from me to get you started as about 1/8th of the plastic free tips in my Low Tox E Course. SO, SO, SO many little things we can do, but some big favourites will definitely get you started and then if you’ve registered for Plastic Free July, you’ll get daily tips throughout the month.
- Stop using individual plastic bags for produce and plastic bags for carting your shopping. There is absolutely no need for 3 lemons to go into a single use plastic bag that then get packed into a single use plastic bag. None. My tip with reusable shopping bags? When you unpack the shopping, place them IMMEDIATELY BACK IN FRONT OF YOUR FRONT DOOR so that they go down to the car with you without forgetting them. This will help anyone who’s found it hard, to turn a corner, finally. Of all the low tox changes I made, I think this habit was the hardest – the remembering of the reusable bags so I never had to say yes to a plastic bag. The other corner I turned was suddenly forbidding myself from saying yes to a bag. At first, that meant wrapping shopping in my gym towel, or 6 avocados in my hand bag (I like avocados and I’m pretty sure people thought I was a shoplifter on the way home!) Whatever I wanted had to fit in my hands or hand bag, or I’d have to leave it, because I was not allowed a plastic bag full stop! I was remembering those reusable bags pretty easily after a week or two of that!
- Stop buying nuts, seeds and other dried goods at the supermarket or most health stores and buy instead from a bulk bin place or a co-op if you can join one in your area. The enormity of plastic that can’t be recycled that is saved in switching to bulk bin shopping is amazing. Truly. You will also save so much money this way. In Australia you can go toSource Wholefoods or Naked or Alfafa House in Sydney – which ever is near you in your capital city that I’ve not named – feel free to share! In the UK there’s naturally good foods and perhaps you could start a co-op with your friends, as the quantities are 2.5kg or more? Big savings to be made on organic dry goods this way.
- Stop buying ‘halves’ of fruit and veg. Half a melon, pumpkin, cauliflower, cabbage or paw paw means plastic wrap. Buy whole and get a little recipe inspiration to ensure you use it all up over the week. A whole cauliflower could be half roasted with turmeric and olive oil and then served with pomegranate and goat’s curd… the other half could be blitzed into a puree with coconut milk and sea salt. Different textures and flavours = not getting bored!
- Get re-usable produce bags for delicates. I love 4MyEarth, a beautiful local one-woman-show business run by Bec Hurst stocked in another amazing local business owner Tracey’s store over at BIOME – who better to support?
- Just wrap your herbs in damp tea towels tightly, to keep them fresh – Never leave them in those plastic wraps they might come in depending where you shop. They wilt far too quickly that way.
- Ask for a box from the store room if you’ve forgotten your bag. I’m waiting for the day when this stops being met with a blank stare!
- Ditch the plastic wrapped toilet paper and go with online loo paper ordering that will make you excited to need loo paper – I promise. Welcome to using WHO GIVES A CRAP. The most puntastic site ever to be created since the history of man kind! It is SO much cheaper and all cardboard and paper are fully recyclable. Your kids will love building towers with the loo rolls and you will love getting emails from them – always such a good laugh!
- Buy bigger plastic bottles for things like hand wash if you’re not keen on soap or making your own. Often the container can be recycled but the little pump or seal lid can’t. This is where you can cut down on those harder to recycle plastics, by doubling the size of what you buy.
- For cleaning products, try making your own in an old spray bottle. I have a bunch of DIY cleaning recipes HERE. Or, try a great brand ReSparkle. The refill concept saves so much plastic from cleaning product purchases, when DIY isn’t your thing.
- Ditch the receipts. Receipts covered in thermal coatings (that plasticky feeling receipt) are covered in BPA in a much more concentrated dose that from food packaging – Say ‘no thanks’ unless you really need that receipt.
- Choose glass over plastic. Stop buying convenient ‘squeeze top’ products like tomato sauce, honey or mayo. Choose a glass jar. You CAN grab a teaspoon and grab what you need. You DON’T need a squeeze bottle. THEY told you you did. Mute the ads and save the planet. Ha! And then you can use the glass jars for pantry items, storing stock etc.
“Plastic fuels the convenience lifestyle”.
We’ve been told we need it to make life easier oh so many times, that we now actually believe it. Time to undo that belief, because it’s hurting our future.
So true. Here’s to peeling back the layers and lowering the plastics load and the chemicals that come along with it. And remember – just take it one little step at a time.