When I decided to take part in plastic free July, I was under no illusions that it would be easy. However, I didn’t expect to get to the end of day one and already have slipped up. As someone who has been trying to reduce my plastic waste for over a year now, I thought that I had all of the tools I needed to at least get past the 24-hour mark. And yet, there I was, fallen at the first hurdle!
If there’s one thing that this challenge has drilled home to me so far, it’s that plastic is a huge part of our culture. It is literally everywhere. I’ve realised that plastic is so much a part of our everyday lives that using it is almost subconscious. Sure, I can go out into the world with my stainless-steel straw, reusable water bottle and good intentions at the ready, but if I let my mind wander for more than 5 seconds I somehow acquire a piece (or several pieces!) of disposable plastic. I’ll be going about my day, probably thinking about my next meal and boom: I realise I’m carrying the enemy with my own bare hands.
So, I suppose the biggest lesson from week one is that I need to stay focused, at least until I’ve made these plastic free swaps into ingrained habits.
Despite the fair few slip ups, I’m still pretty proud of what I’ve achieved this week. There’s absolutely no doubt that my waste has been cut down. A lot. And even when I have made mistakes, I’m confident that it’s all making me more equipped to combat the rest of the month. Maybe by the end of the challenge I’ll actually be able to say that I’ve gone 7 whole days without using a single piece of disposable plastic! Until then, it’s time to talk about where I went wrong, as well as what I did well throughout the week. It’s been one hell of a learning curve, people.
One of my major successes this week was managaging to do a predominately plastic free food shop in ASDA. My nearest zero-waste shop is an hour drive away. And, ethical consumer friends, that just ain’t gonna happen. Plus, I don’t think I could call it an “eco-friendly move” considering how much fuel that 2-hour round trip would use. So, average Joe supermarkets it is for now. Thanks to reusable produce bags, loose veggies, baked beans and boxed rice, I was able to avoid a hell of a lot of plastic. The only product that I needed to buy elsewhere was bread. For that I headed to my local bakery where they solely use paper packaging.
I also finally managed to get a completely waste-free iced coffee this week. It’s a harder task than you think, okay?! I made sure to explicitly ask for a glass, even though I was drinking in. Then I asked for no straw and felt like a little eco warrior when I pulled out my stainless steel one instead.
In terms of skincare and personal hygiene, I’ve been massively grateful over the last 7 days that I gradually began switching to naked or tin/jar products at the beginning of 2018. This is the area that I think I’ve really excelled in. I’ve been using my Earth Conscious lavender and tea tree deodorant which has somehow manage to hold up even in this heat! On top of that I’ve stuck with my stainless-steel razor, used solid bar cleansers and the Lush naked shower gels to stay squeaky clean. And I’ve absolutely covered myself in coconut oil, obviously.
So, here’s my plastic list of shame thus far: 1 disposable drink lid, 1 disposable straw, the plastic bag from 1 pack of Aero Bubbles, 3 sticky labels from loose fruit and 1 elastic band holding together some loose parsley.
If I’m being honest, most of these came into my possession because I just wasn’t thinking about it properly. My boyfriend and I recently got Odeon Unlimited passes and have been going to the cinema a ridiculous amount in order to make it worth the money. I’ve been stocking up on plastic free snacks and drinks to take with me but, naturally, when our server told my boyfriend we could get a bag of sweets and a large Coke for the same money as he was spending already, I jumped at the opportunity. Only when I saw the drink being filled up did it click that that meant I’d used a plastic lid, straw and packet in one sitting. Oopsie.
The others weren’t so much slip ups as the lesser of two evils. Whilst I was able to buy loose fruits and veggies in my weekly shop, some still had plastic labels on them or rubber bands around them. I was aware when I bought them that they weren’t technically “plastic free”, but it was the best that I could do!
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