Last July I took part in the worldwide campaign, Plastic Free July. The aim of this initiative is to encourage participants to spend a month (or even a week) cutting out plastics, or at least single use plastics, from their lives.
Single use plastics (straws, takeaway coffee cup lids, bags) are the worst sort of plastic. They are cheap to make (while oil is still plentiful) but are the worst at being disposed of. According to plastic is rubbish in the UK we throw away 3 million tonnes of plastic rubbish every year. Most plastic doesn’t rot. It either stays in the holes in the ground where we bury our waste, or ends up downstream in our oceans where it has a drastic impact on wildlife.
When I participated in Plastic Free July last year I found it was a steep learning curve. It made me realise how plastic is present everywhere. Although I’ve decided not to participate this year I am hoping to keep up with those habits I adopted last year, namely:
1. I now (try to) go out armed with a filled water bottle, spoon/spork and napkin. No more disposable plastic cutlery or wooden stirrers for me.
2. I take reusable bags and have started using these Onya net produce bags for picking up loose fruit and veg.
3. We’ve switched from plastic hand wash dispensers and plastic shower gel to good old fashioned bars of soap (cheaper and way less packaging). I’ve actually become a bit of a soap nerd and it has started to become my ‘holiday souvenir’ (when we were in Scotland last summer I bought home bars from the Isles of Mull and Skye). When I have the money and the inclination I buy the soap from Lush as it’s completely plastic free. Otherwise I buy multi packs from Boots or the supermarket (which often come wrapped in plastic)
4. Over the past couple of months I have been disciplining myself to refill washing up liquid when I am in Bath or Corsham. Both towns have health food stores with refill stations.
5. One of the legacies of my adventures in Plastic Free July and Supermarket Free Lent has caused me to shop more regularly at local butchers. Their meat is local, tasty and well priced. It also comes in far less plastic packaging, free from those awful plastic trays you get in supermarkets.
There are still way too many things that I need to do. I need to remember to take more bags than I think I need shopping, rather than struggling with overloaded bags and juggling things in my hands!
I also need to ASK which is something I find very hard to do. I admire those bloggers who ask – or rather demand- that produce be put in their glass containers, to pour take out coffees into their own flasks
So, although I am not taking part in Plastic Free July this year my aims are:
1. Continue with what I’m doing (as above)
2. Use my Onya produce bags, get takeaway coffee in my flask and say no to plastic straws for my daughters.
3. Try to travel Plastic Free this summer. This is a BIG CHALLENGE. Next month we are travelling by train through France, Italy, Germany and Holland. We will be camping, staying in hotels, youth hostels and with friends. There will be many opportunities to eat and live plastic free but there will also be lots of challenges in trying to avoid single use plastic. I need to learn the appropriate phrases for ‘no straws please’, ‘no bags please’ and see how we get on…
In the meantime I will be following those bloggers here who are taking part in Plastic Free July (#pfjuk)