For the month of July I decided to jump on the bandwagon and join the trending Plastic Free July Challenge. With a one year old at home, going fully plastic free was not possible for us. Instead I focused on reducing my impact where able. I have summarised the main points of learning and challenges that I faced below. I hope this is something that can inspire you. Make sure to share the post to spread the message.
Carrying a reusable bottle/tumbler/cuttlery
This was not necessarily a new thing for me. I have used my own bottle for years as well as a travel mug. It is widely accepted in London with most coffee shops offering you a discount for using a reusable mug. Most places not have water filling stations dotted around. This is such an easy step that everyone can take. It is relatively inexpensive as the investment will last a long time. Most of us probably have an old travel bottle lying around at home that we can dig out.
I bring cutlery with me to work and keep my lunch in tuppaware. There is no need to invest in a fancy kit if you have things at home. For things like dressings we reuse old mini jam jars which fit in our lunch boxes.
Plastic Free Snacking
I’m unfortunately a big snacker. Working full time, teaching yoga and having a one year old means I tend to eat on the go. Convenience is key when you are short on time. I am best friends with snack bars and I regularly pick them up. Not only is this bad for my wallet, but they are individually wrapped in plastic. I tried to make some homemade options and use a container or old bread bag to carry them with me. You can find a super quick an easy granola bar for on the go here and a jammy flapjack recipe here.
Sometimes there is no time for baking. I have therefore looked at brands who use recyclable or biodegradable options to plastic wrappers (YES bars, Deliciously Ella products etc). Alternatively. I have opted for single fruit items without plastic. There has definitely been times where I have caved in and just got a plastic wrapped snack. However, I am definitely more mindful as a result of this challenge. I now really try to consider whether I can get another option or wait until my next meal.
Plastic Free Food Shops
For the month of July we tried to use companies such as Farm Drop which offer produce directly from the farmers. These come without processing and added plastic packaging. We used a discount voucher code which made it more affordable. However, a shop from Farmdrop is definitely more expensive. The produce definitely tastes better but the price made it difficult for us to sustain. A family of three in London with a mortgage, travel costs and nursery fees makes this hard to sustain. Remember that you can only do what is possible for you.
Plastic Free Cleaning products
We are lucky and a Zero Waste Shop open up 2 min from our house in Wembley Park called Patoka. This means that we can now top up our cleaning products in a low plastic and sustainable way. Before this we have ordered bulk sized Ecover items from Amazon.
Vinegar and Bicarbonae soda are also excellent low waste items which give excellent results for cleaning. For a simple antibacterial surface clean we dilute vinegar with water and add some essential oils for a nice scent. Dusting some bicarbonate soda in sinks and then spraying with above solution lifts grime and lime scale with a gentle scrub.
There is definitely some trial and error and there is a certain element of accessibility and privilege involved. See what is around you and try to avoid the most harmful chemicals like bleach.
Plastic Free Personal Care
I have moved away from traditional shower gel in plastic bottles. Instead I use natural soap which I put in a little scrubbing pouch. The pouch can be reused and reduces the need for additional products like scrubs etc.
Skincare wise I haven’t been able to go plastic free. I suffer from intermittent acne and use products prescribed by a dermatologist for my skin. For my makeup I try to finish what I have got and will opt for more low waste items when I buy new things.
For female hygiene I use a menstrual cup which saves a lot of money and plastic waste, I highly recommend swapping to this if it works for you. On the other hand, we still use disposable nappies. I have tried reusable ones, but it does not fit with our life style or our less than optimal washing machine.
This area is definitely one that I can progress further with and will continue to do so as I run out of my old conventional products. I believe in finishing what you have first rather than opting for new straight away.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the little things that I have done across July. Most of these will stay with me. This month has helped me shape some new habits which will have a positive impact on us as a family and for the future. It is easy to get down with eco anxiety, but we can all do some small things that if done collectively can have a positive impact. Let me know in the comments down below what you do to reduce your plastic consumption.
If you enjoyed this article please check this article out on sustainable beauty products.
If you want to try Farm Drop please feel free to use this voucher code (not sponsored, standard discount code) which will give you £40 off your first shop (UK only).