For me plastic free July was not about completely avoiding plastic, I knew that was too much to attempt in one go. It was about becoming more aware of the plastic I was using and finding ways to begin reducing it. I decided to focus on reducing my use of single use plastic. Here are some of the things I found out:
Three easy switches:
- Hand wash – Easiest of all. Instead of plastic bottles of hand wash I now have a soap dish at each sink, although finding ceramic rather than plastic soap dishes was a challenge in itself.
- Toilet paper – To economise I usually buy whichever multipack is on special offer, different brands but always wrapped in plastic. I scoped out various local supermarkets and couldn’t find any paper wrapped rolls. So I ordered from Who Gives A Crap whose recycled toilet paper is paper wrapped. The rolls are also double wrapped so they last longer than the big brand ones I used to get, the box I ordered is going to last us ages and work out an even better bargain than the special offers I used to get.
- Peanut butter – I use a lot of peanut butter and usually buy the larger plastic containers which work out cheaper. Switching back to glass jars is easy, but more expensive. And other ethical choices I make are also more expensive, organic fruit and veg, farmers market instead of supermarket for meat and so on. All those little additional costs add up and my budget doesn’t have a lot of leeway.
- Plastic Bags – I always have at least three reusable shopping bags in my handbag and take extra when I know I’ll need them. So this was an area I’d thought I was doing well in. I realised this month I’m not doing as well as I’d thought. I buy organic veg from local producers, and a surprising amount of it comes in plastic bags. When I buy additional fruit and veg from the supermarket there’s very little of it not prepacked in plastic. When I shop at the farmers market everything is either in plastic bags or clingfilm.
- Bread – As far as I can tell there is no way to buy bread at the supermarket without plastic. Even the paper bags my supermarket uses for the store baked loaves have plastic panels. I can bake bread at home, plastic free, but I don’t have the time to do that every time. I tried a couple of the more upmarket supermarkets, plastic everywhere. Eventually I found a small bakery in the city centre which doesn’t use plastic. And more importantly they make fantastic bread. So now I either shop there or bake my own.
Three I’ve not yet solved:
- Toiletries – other than soap everything comes in plastic.
- Pet food – wet food now comes in plastic trays rather than tins as it used to, and the dry food comes in plasticised sacks.
- Cleaning products – my only success here was finding a shop that will refill washing up liquid bottles, so I’m still using the same plastic bottle. Other than that all my cleaning products come in plastic.
I’m glad I’ve taken part in plastic free July, its made me a lot more aware of what I’m using and what the alternatives are. Hopefully I’ll keep on being a more aware consumer, and build on the changes I’ve made so far.