it’s almost Plastic Free July again…. are you ready for the challenge?

simple ways to begin the plastic free journey

Plastic Free July has been the catalyst for many people to change their whole (plastic-free) lives, or has simply been a wonderful and easy way to create small change within your life. For me, I grew up minimal-plastic (not zero or free), and live with less plastics than many but more than some. I enjoy using Plastic Free July as a great way to reset some of our ways, to challenge ourselves to take a step further along our journey and also to spread the word about how easy it can be to start the plastic-free / low-plastic living.

As everything, it’s a scale of what feels right for you and what fits into your life, your family, your home, your work. It’s about doing what you can without feeling guilty that you’re not doing more.

This year it’s good to remember to start slowly and simply. Often it’s super overwhelming trying to do it all at once – so choosing 1-2 (or 3-4) things is a really great way to ease into what can be a big change at the time, but soon will feel simple and everyday. Rather than trying to do it all at once, choosing one or two things for you to reduce will make you feel like you’ve succeeded rather than failed the challenge.

Remember that every small action has a reaction – your small tiny steps create a revolution in your life. The little (environmental) things you do DO add up. I know. And when you start this journey, you’re likely to talk about it with people – and spreading the word is the best form of environmental revolution, isn’t it!

A few myths about going plastic free:

  • You need to throw out everything you own that’s plastic! Nope, don’t do that.. that’s silly. Going plastic free is about making small changes over time. Replace things with a non-plastic option as they break or wear out, but don’t throw it all out at once.
  • It’s expensive. Yes I guess it can be, in some ways, but it can be cheaper in other ways. It depends on how you look at it, what products you choose to buy or not buy, and how you generally live. I’m going to talk about that next week.
  • People will think you’re crazy! Maybe they will – that’s ok “all the best people are crazy” – Alice in Wonderful (spoken by Alice’s father). But maybe they’ll be inspired to make changes themselves.
  • It’s hard and you’ll fail. Like anything it can be as easy or hard as you make it. With the right attitude and mindset it’s not hard, with the right help and advice it’s not hard. Some aspects might be hard, but you won’t fail.
  • Your kids will hate you for it. Hmmmmm perhaps there’ll be a few times they’re a little disappointed that you said no to their usual plastic toys / packaged food / etc, but it’s our role as parents to guide our children and show them alternative ways of living. Ultimately they’ll come to agree with you and happily convert. Read this to give you hope.

going plastic free - reusable produce bags.

I’ve talked about simple plastic free tips in the past here, so today I wanted to open the idea of starting the challenge and seeing if you’re up for it. And most importantly what hand-holding help you might need. I want to work directly with you – via email or Instagram or comment below – as a helping guide for you along the way. So, please reach out with any anxious thoughts you might have about starting a plastic free journey.

To begin choose just one thing you’re going to give up. Of course you can choose more if you feel comfortable with that.

Anything from the “top 4 plastic baddies” is a good place to start:

  • Plastic Water Bottles:  Buy yourself a a reusable drink bottle and take your own water with you. Not only will you be saving the money, but you’ll be saving thousands of plastic bottles from landfill. My kids all have their own, including River, who loves having his own special bottle. It also seems to make us remember to drink more water. Choose from any of these pretty designs available. We use stainless steel ones, but Ari recently got one of these glass bottles and he takes it to school everyday. Make sure you choose stainless steel or glass, or if you do choose a reusable plastic one check that it has no BPA – and please don’t reuse the throw-away bottles because the plastics in them leach out and aren’t designed to be reused.
  • Plastic Shopping Bags: This is one that drives me crazy. How many times do you see someone buy something from a shop, walk outside then throw the plastic bag in the bin! Why didn’t they say “no thanks, I don’t need a bag”. Or you get home and unload all the shopping – simply throwing the plastic bags into the rubbish (straight into landfill). What it takes is a few simple tricks for reminding yourself:
    + Put your shopping bags straight into your handbag, car, pram or bike basket as soon as you unpack your shopping.
    + Put a reminder notice at your front door so you don’t forget as you’re walking out the door.
    + Practice saying NO to plastic bags – if you only have a few items carry them in your hands if you’ve forgotten a bag.
    + Remember to say No bag at the start of the shopping transaction, and often you’ll have to remind the sales person again at the end (especially at clothing or boutique stores more so than supermarkets).
    + Use reusable produce bags as well as shopping bags.
  • Takeaway Coffee Cups: There’s so much about our takeaway coffee industry that makes me mad and sad. When did we become so busy that we can’t sit down to sip our coffee? Did you know that takeaway coffee now accounts for almost 40% of coffee sales? Woah hey! What can you do?!
    Firstly plan to sit in and use a proper cup, and really take time enjoying your coffee not having to sip it on the go (or re-heat it in the microwave as I keep hearing people doing). Secondly if you do need it takeaway then get your own reusable coffee cup and use it. Keep it in your handbag or with your car / house keys so you never forget it. Many coffee shops actually offer a discount if you use your own cup, so ask your local barista to join the War on Waste by supporting the use of reusable coffee cups.  I particularly love these glass coffee cups (and have never broken one in my bag!), and these glass tea flasks are excellent for taking your own tea from home.
  • Plastic Drinking Straws: This to me seems outrageous that such a tiny and so briefly used item can create such a massive impact on our environment. These, out of any of the top 4 baddies, are simply laziness, habit or appearances. I mean everyone wants to look like the cute girl in the soft drink ad….. Say no to plastic drinking straws, and put the cup up to your mouth! Or if you do really like using a straw, and sometimes they are handy with a small child, you can get sweet stainless steel ones here or these fun bamboo ones (we’ve tried these are a market stall once, but don’t have any ourselves – though I really like the idea of them). Make sure you also get a straw cleaner at the same time.

If you’ve been on a plastic free journey for a while, these might already be on your no list – so I’d love to hear what plastic you’re saying no to this year. We’re aiming to cut down even further on our food purchases – particularly cheese and tofu packets, and other things that mostly occur when we’re not planned or prepared. Most of our plastic purchases seem to happen when time is stretched or we’re out of the ordinary – such as camping or we’re sick and running low on parenting energy.

A Few Plastic-Free things you might choose to give up this month:

  • Toothbrushes – try these bamboo ones instead.
  • Biscuits in packets – make your own
  • Individually packaged chips or popcorn
  • Individual mini yoghurts or cheeses
  • Soft drinks in glass instead of plastic (or give up soft drink altogether!)

Let’s do this together, help each other out and create the change we want our children to grow up watching. One of my favourite quotes is:

“Never doubt that a small group of committed individuals will make a difference,
Indeed they are the only ones who ever do” – Philanthropist Margaret Mead

 

* some links in this post are affiliate links – that means I earn a small percentage if you purchase anything. Biome is a shop that I wholeheartedly love supporting, purchasing from, and recommending. They walk the talk in a way that many businesses don’t – right down to sending their postage orders with as minimal plastic packaging (and lots of recycled boxes); which just feels right to me. I love that they have an affiliate program to support bloggers as well. Thank you!
{Even if you’re a returning customer to Biome, they still give a slightly smaller % to me – so I truly value you using my links to buy your lovelies}.

3 thoughts on “it’s almost Plastic Free July again…. are you ready for the challenge?

  1. Hi Ellie, what method do you use for household rubbish (not scraps of food which we compost) …..we don’t have a rubbish collection from council? We want to avoid buying those white plastic garbage bags but still want to use a bin to contain what we are disposing of. Eventually it will need to go to tip. Thank you for an excellent blogpost.

    1. Hi Jeanette,
      Sounds like we’re both in similar situations – we don’t have rubbish collection either. To be honest, sometimes we do have to buy those bags (we’ve found some that were made of a special material, but probably that was just ‘greenwash’ and the don’t biodegrade anyway!). We sort of use a rubbish thing as the collection for other smaller rubbish items – ie when we chip packets we buy the ones in paper sack (but they started putting a plastic lining so no good for compost anymore); so we use those as our main ‘rubbish bag’ and put other things inside. Or if we get parcels in those plastic sacks we use that as well; mostly they’re not reusable unfortunately. But we don’t get enough parcels for this to be an always option. I guess week by week we make do.
      I suppose really for us it’s about trying to minimise all the plastic usage, so there’s simply less going out. It’s slow but I think every month (mostly) we get better. Unless someone visits and brings lots of stuff…!!!

      1. Thanks Ellie. I guess when taking stuff to the tip for disposal it needs to be in something….will keep thinking about what to do. As you say minimising is the goal. Best wishes j

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