When I started Plastic Free July, I felt pretty prepared. I had my bamboo toothbrush, stainless steel razor and, most importantly, a shit load of mason jars at the ready. I researched where my nearest farm shops and bakeries were so that I could buy fruits, veggies and bread that wasn’t wrapped in plastic. And, of course, I followed about a thousand zero wasters on Instagram and Youtube to help me soak up all of their wisdom. I learnt a lot.
As July 1st rolled around I felt like I knew exactly what I was avoiding for the next 31 days: Mainly disposable food, drink and cosmetics packaging. What I didn’t (and probably couldn’t) prepare myself for though was all of the hidden plastics that I would encounter. More than once now I’ve bought something that I thought was completely innocent and haven’t realised until I’ve got home that I actually purchased plastic unintentionally. It’s everywhere and it can be a sneaky little bastard!
However, I’m trying not to beat myself up about these slips. It’s all a learning curve.
As I said at the beginning of the month, I’m sharing my Plastic Free July experience not just because I want to talk about myself as much as possible (though that is slightly true), but because I want to help others on their journey to reducing their unnecessary waste. Here are 10 pieces of plastic that I’ve made the mistake of buying, so that you don’t have to.
1. Plastic stickers on loose fruit and veggies
2. Jar labels (even those made of paper are covered in glue and are not widely recyclable)
3. Tea bags (many popular brands are not biodegradable as they contain polypropylene plastic)
4. Bubble wrap and plastic bags in online orders
5. Plastic tamper seals on tubs, jars and tubes
6. Chewing gum (disgustingly, you may be chewing polyvinyl acetate)
7. Cardboard coffee cups (most are lined with plastic)
8. Synthetic cleaning sponges
10. Drink cans (all drink cans on the market are lined with plastic resin)