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I Tried Plastic Free July & Here’s What I Learned

Kelly Chan

Posted on August 04 2020

EcoStardust - I Tried Plastic Free July & Here’s What I Learned

I Tried Plastic Free July & Here’s What I Learned

   

Plastic Free July is an annual global movement that encourages us to reduce our plastic consumption for the entire month. What started from humble beginnings in 2011 has since attracted an estimated 250 million people taking on the challenge in 2019.


As this is my first year, I pledged to reduce my single-use plastic consumption with the aim to try to go full plastic-free in July next year. As somebody who tries to reduce my plastic but definitely has some improvements to make, I felt it was best to start with baby steps first to solidify good foundations.


31 days down and here’s here are my key takeaways:


Food and toiletry packaging made this challenge the most difficult


My biggest challenge was walking down the aisle in my supermarket and the majority of foodstuff was wrapped in, you guessed it plastic. I decided instead to do my fruit and veg shop at my local greengrocers where produce was loose. I also found a lovely little deli in my ‘hood in Bristol that offers refillables on whole foods, toiletries and cleaning products which was an absolute lifesaver! If you live in Bristol you should definitely try Southville Deli.


I also found Teapigs biodegradable tea bags in my local green grocers which was a happy little accident as I was completely unaware that my regular PG tips were wrapped in plastic.


As I’ve been working from home and enjoying my leftovers instead of ordering in, so I started using reusable Stretchy Lids which have significantly reduced my use of cling film.


I saved money


Shopping local for my refillables not only meant that I saved myself from being burdened with lots of unnecessary plastic, it also meant that I saved myself some pennies since I was no longer paying for excess packaging. 


The challenge also meant that I was less inclined to order takeaways and online shopping which come with piles and piles of plastic.


I learned how to get creative with what I had


There were also some products that I found difficult to find in stock without single-use plastic such as a body scrub. I decided to get creative and create my own instead! My housemate loves his morning coffee so I’ve been stealing the grounds to make my own body scrub instead of buying a new tub. Find the recipe I used here


I’m not too skilled with a sewing machine but one of my housemates made herself some face masks using this pattern from an old T-shirt which can save you the hassle of ordering one that comes shipped in clear plastic.


Coronavirus made the mission more difficult


With a lot of shops open on reduced hours at the start of July it did make visiting the local zero waste shops during Plastic Free July a little more on the challenging side due to social distancing, queueing and low stocks. But as the weeks went on better measures were put in place to ensure we could all get our plastic-free supplies!


I became more mindful of how much unnecessary plastic is out there


From banana stickers to those little hidden plastic labels underneath glass jars, I learned very quickly from this challenge that going completely plastic-free is difficult and that there’s so much unnecessary plastic packaging out there. 


Plastic Free July definitely opened my eyes and made me more conscious of plastic pollution. I’ll definitely be more mindful going forward of purchasing products covered in single-use plastic in the coming months and will continue to use my plastic alternatives.


The more of us that can become aware of how much unnecessary plastic there is out there, the better as it means that companies can move towards more sustainable packaging and methods of shipping. 


We are making waves in the eco-community so let’s continue to create even bigger ones!


Did you try Plastic Free July? How did it go for you?

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