Plastic Free July 2.0
The first year I started this blog back in 2018 I took on the Plastic Free July (PFJ) challenge and from memory did pretty good. Nothing to the calibre of the zero waste champions who can fit an entire year’s worth of rubbish in a puny glass jar, but a good attempt for a novice nonetheless.
Fast forward four years and I thought it was time to revisit my single use plastic consumption (as it’s definitely crept back to pre 2018 levels at times). I won’t bore you with all the gritty details but like many things in the years 2020 and 2021 my best laid plans were thwarted.
This year I found PFJ was made all the more challenging on a personal account; we went on holidays (always much trickier when you’re on the go feeding kids in the car or staying with others not on the PFJ challenge) and we battled a week of gastro (we used disposable nappies and ordered our groceries online instead of heading to my local bulk store and farmgate door as to avoid spreading the gastro – I wouldn’t wish that week on anyone!). And then there was the external challenge of a global pandemic meaning many places no longer accept BYO containers and cups (I managed to convince the sales assistant at Bakers Delight to ‘drop’ my bread into my bread bag from a height so she didn’t have to come into contact with it). We also entered another snap lockdown during July which meant that people were hyper aware of this.
When I first started this journey, waste and recycling were top priorities for me. Since then I’ve become more aware of other environmental challenges associated with food such as food miles and production. I mention this because in some cases I actively chose food items in plastic over non-plastic because I am trying to look at the whole picture. Here are some of those items:
- Milk – Shultz Organic Dairy have milk in reusable glass bottles. The milk is crazy tasty and creamy and I do purchase it on occasion as a treat. However, it’s also two to three times the price of other milk, which is unfortunately not financially sustainable for our family. Instead I purchase milk made locally to me (15kms away).
- Pasta – the pasta that comes in cardboard in the supermarket or plastic free at the bulk store are made in Italy. The Australian pasta comes in plastic. Choosing food that is made closer to me has become a top priority.
- Berries – I literally cannot find somewhere that sells berries loose, except the farmgate but it’s not berry season… probably should only eat them in season…
- Baby wipes and nappies – because gastro, and holidays, but mainly gastro. I do try to choose those that are made with plant based materials. However I’m probably being greenwashed and they still end up in landfill so not really a win.
- Meat – I choose local free range meat, which I have only found in plastic. Also not too sure if butchers will still be accepting BYO containers, although worth looking into for the future.
- Veggie burgers – because I want reduce my meat consumption but part of that challenge is cooking multiple meals for the different wants of the family (the other three aren’t prepared to go meat-free just yet).
- Butter – because it doesn’t come plastic free.
- Breakfast cereal – because kids are fussy AF and I choose the path of least resistance early in the morning. Unfortunately oats just aren’t an option every day.
- Gluten free ingredients – I had to make a gluten and nut free cake with a days notice for kinder. These items came in plastic.
- Items that have been marked down for quick sale – Having worked in supermarkets for years, I’ve seen the incredible amount of food waste they create when items are nearing used by and best before dates or are imperfect or damaged. I support my local IGA in minimising items going to landfill because instead of throwing defunct items away, they heavily discount them. This is also a throwback to consumer Sam of days gone past, I can’t pass up a bargain (I’ve banned myself from Aldi due to the strong urge to buy all the special buys)!
- Take away – I usually opt for pizza or fish and chips to avoid plastic but after a week of not eating much at all let alone vegetables, we opted for Thai food, which comes in plastic. I feel guilty for not even asking if we could BYO but I had a bad case of CBF‘s.
I did have a couple of wins though including:
- Smarties now come in a paper bag! I’d already chosen these as decoration for a cake – win!
- Coconut yoghurt in a glass jar!
As the world wakes up to plastic free living it’s getting easier to implement this at home. Here’s where we do well on plastic free in the bathroom:
- Toothbrush – bamboo
- Hairbrush – bamboo (?)
- Toilet paper – in paper packaging
- Poo drops – DIY in reusable bottle
- Floss – glass jar, silk floss
- Whitening toothpaste – DIY in glass jar
- Soap – from my local collective
- Moisturiser – essential oil infused olive oil in refill bottle
- Deodorant rock
- DIY bronzer in reusable container
- DIY dry shampoo in reusable bottle
- Perfume in glass bottle and reusable bottle
- Diva cup – silicone
- Metal tweezers
- DIY deodorant in reusable bottle
- Cotton and wood cue tip
And here are the items I’m yet to switch:
- Shampoo and conditioner – will try a new brand of bars when these run out
- Toothpaste – DIY made my teeth too sensitive, on the lookout for an alternative
- Electric toothbrush heads
- Body lotion – a gift, will replace with coconut oil when finished
- Sugar wax – have tried three times to DIY and failed every time. This container will last me a few years.
- Nail polish remover
- Comb – have had for many, many years
- Razor – no longer use, have had these for 5+ years
- Make up brushes – at the rate I use them they should last a lifetime
- Deodorant for hot days – on hot sweaty days DIY just does not cut it. Will try plastic free deo from the same place as the shampoo bars.
- Hair ties – I haven’t bought hair ties for myself in years. When I find one on the footpath or at the park I bring it home wash it and use it. Although apparently there are now plastic free hair ties!