7 Easy Changes for Plastic Free July
I'm just one person, and I couldn't expect to save the future, but I'm like the hummingbird in the South American Indigenous story, the one who carried a drop of water in its beak to put on a forest fire. He did this over and over even though all the other animals laughed at him and said it wouldn't make any difference. He kept trying because, as he said, "I'm doing the best I can".
The vision of Plastic Free July is a world without plastic waste.
I don't know if this is wholly possible or not but it's impossible for me to turn a blind eye and do nothing.
We might not be able to eliminate all plastics from our every day life but I personally believe that we most definitely should try our best. I'm not into shaming people for doing/not doing something - your 'best' is something that is conditional on your circumstances and therefore, only you can decide what is your 'best'.
If you have decided that you can do better, here are 7 changes that I have actually made in the last 12-18 months that you might be able to implement:
Say no to cling + plastic wrap
Surprisingly, I didn't find this one as tough as expected. I have enough Tupperware and glass jars (from pasta sauces etc) to keep leftovers and pack lunches. When desperate, I will store leftovers in the fridge in the pot + lid it was cooked in or in a bowl with a plate on top as the lid.
Never leave the house without your drink bottle + KeepCup
Self-explanatory. When I've forgotten my KeepCup, I've had to decide whether I really want a coffee or not. If yes, I then decide if I have enough time to sit at the café and have it (and avoid the takeaway cup). And I admit that when I DON'T have enough time, I will then commit the sin and order a takeaway coffee. But this doesn't happen as often as it used to and I am still actively working on improving this.
(The drink bottle, on the other hand, is practically attached to my hand. I am a hydration nut...)
I do NOT need to drink out of a straw
It's just not possible for me to have watched this video and still use plastic straws. I never actually chose to use a straw anyway - it always automatically appeared in my drinks at bars and restaurants. These days, I deliberately request "NO STRAW PLEASE" when ordering my drinks.
I miss paper towels way more than cling and plastic wrap. They are so easy and convenient but they are single-use, packaged in plastic and even though they are biodegradable, the resources that go into actually manufacturing them are what seem unnecessary to me. I have replaced them with microfibre cloths. Of course, this is also debatable...so I'm open to suggestions :)
Click here to read how A Beautiful Mess also gave up paper towels (this photo is from that article)
Use a bamboo toothbrush
In Australia, over 30 million plastic toothbrushes are consumed every year. I've only just ordered my BAMKIKI 'The Fab Four', which is a year's worth of bamboo toothbrushes. BAMKIKI are Australian-owned and their bamboo toothbrushes are 100% biodegradable and BPA-free. They also donate 5% of profits to a foundation that promotes the well-being of our Mother Nature (currently at the time of writing: Great Barrier Reef Foundation)
Avoid plastic cutlery
This is one I don't encounter too often in day-to-day life but when I do, it bugs the crap out of me to have to use single-use plastic cutlery. Instead, I normally have a fork somewhere at the bottom of my bag or this camping spork :)
Let your fruit + veg loose!
This is actually a big pet peeve of mine - seeing people bag their fruit + veg in plastic bags at the grocery store. Especially items like bananas that have a peel and items that you'd wash anyway before consuming. Yes, it might take a few extra seconds at the register to balance items on the scales but it is worth it to me. If it isn't worth it to you, consider reusable produce bags like these from ONYA.
One change that I've yet to make is stopping lining my bin with plastic bags. I've moved to biodegradable bags but I know that these aren't the best solution. The most common suggestion people make is to use newspaper. But I don't buy newspapers and I am anti-junkmail (because it's a waste of paper) so I typically don't have those either (unless the postman disobeys my instruction!). Here is an interesting article on alternatives.
This deserves an article all on its own but I want to also underline that the best way to reduce waste in general, is to not demand/consume in the first place. Recycling, reusing and repurposing is all well and good but the damage has already been done because the product, and therefore waste, is already out there in the ecosystem. Please assess whether you really need something before you purchase it.
I hope you have found this useful. As I said at the start, I don't know if we can completely solve the problem of plastic pollution but we owe it to ourselves, to future generations and to Mother Nature to try our darn best.
Find out more about Plastic Free July: