Our Experience With Plastic Free July
Our journey of positive impact
As we head into the final days of Plastic Free July, we're reflecting on the whole experience. Like many of you, we have been following the Facebook updates and receiving the informative emails and generally we're feeling more plastic conscious than ever! We've found that being part of a community makes the journey easier; it's comforting to know you are aligned with thousands of others who are entrenching themselves in positive change.
As we have been out and about running errands for work or shopping for home or grabbing something to eat we've found ourselves confronted with making impromptu decisions to not accepting plastic. Particularly confronting has been single-use packaging - isn't it terrible that plastic exists for single use! It has often caught us off guard and we've had to get inventive to find ways to get past all that annoyingly convenient plastic!
What have we learnt?
Making good decisions, based on sustainability principles, is made easier by repetition. Once we did something a couple of times, it became easier.
Leaving the reusable bags in a regular place (by the door or in the boot) made it more likely that they would be used. I now use my Fair Trade Tote Bag every time. I have my reusable bags on the passenger seat of my car and a smaller folded bag in my handbag. These bags are light weight and after I have put the shopping away the bags go straight back into place.
We've also adapted to using a Keepcup for take away coffees. It's repetitive and it really does make a big difference to our weekly landfill contribution. And, who knew, our local cafés even gave a small discount for bringing in our own cups! Not to mention they are pretty little crafty cups (the glass version with cork is my pick).
Changing old habits
The team at Ecobags have found participation in Plastic Free July hugely motivating. It's helped to jog the memory and make us more conscious so that when we see plastic, we're automatically challenging ourselves as to whether we really need it or how we can avoid it. It has triggered a change in how I think about plastic. It has helped form new good habits. And what seemed so hard before has now just become part of my daily routine.
5 Plastic items we never knew we could avoid:
There are plastic items, that you may not have even noticed, which can be easily avoided. Here are five sneaky plastic items that can be easily avoided:
1.Vegetables in plastic bags They do not need to go into individual plastic bags. When you’re produce shopping, place all the vegetables into your reusable cotton bags or straight in the basket - you will save around 6-10 bags per family weekly shop (and time opening those silly plastic veggie bags!). Then it goes straight into the veggie draw in the fridge or fruit bowl. Also, avoid any pre-packaged veggie’s – they are not necessary. Or go one better and visit a local farmers market. Of course we wash them afterwards.
2. Chocolate It's winter and we're eating more chocolate in winter! Try and avoid plastic packaged chocolate. There are many brands that use cardboard packaging. A personal favourite is Green and Black Fairtrade Dark Chocolate.
3. Take out sushi So many of us really enjoy sushi – but to avoid all the single-use plastic trays we found sushi outlets that let you pick your own pieces best. We were also surprised to find that a few of our regular sushi shops will happily put your takeaway sushi in your own reusable container brought from home.
4. Bread Purchase bread from a local baker or artisan store, and the chances are you can have the bread in a paper bag. Just be sure they don’t try and sneak that into a plastic bag as you leave! It stays fresh, is less processed and somehow just seems tastier than what you'd buy in the supermarket.
5. Bulk bin shopping in style Introducing Auckland’s new central plastic package free store https://goodfor.co.nz/shop/ in Ponsonby! This store is packed with a huge selection of grains and general household supplies. The décor will make you want to visit more often its just so good in all ways possible.
Why we love to say no to plastic
We're into the last days of Plastic Free July and we love seeing the community through the web pages and in the hashtag #plasticfreejuly in instagram. For us, there have been victories, there have been nuisances and there has definitely been some annoying, sneaky plastic.
We know the impacts on our planet from plastic range from ocean pollution, air pollution, to toxic gases.
For a long time now we have been following NZ charity http://sustainablecoastlines.org/, and love the work they have been doing to educate and create ocean/beach clean-up events around the country.
They have won awards for their work (and rightfully so!). Here's the link to their instagram - https://www.instagram.com/p/BWvpsAUhYja/?taken-by=sustainablecoastlines.
If you have had annoying plastic end up with you, don’t worry, but please do be mindful of reducing, reusing and recycling. For all the times you have stopped yourself using single use plastic, you should feel proud. We look forward to seeing the lessons learnt through Plastic Free July embedded into our lives permanently. Enjoy the rest of Plastic Free July - and we hope you're able to make plastic-free living and zero waste a way of life!