Plastic Free July: a beginner’s plan and a plastic versus cardboard dilemma.

plastic free zero waste collective
Photo Credit: @The Zero Waste Collective

Leave it to me to write my first blog post in over a month when I really should be working on my mémoire de recherche appliquée (for my master’s).

Leave it to Instagram to leave you feeling guilty and apprehensive AF super motivated for #plasticfreejuly!

I’m evidently a beginner at all this eco friendly stuff, and my initial plan was JUST to be fully dedicated to slow fashion. But alas, tree-hugging instagrammers in the community have successfully galvanized the activist in me to take some action and join the #lowimpactmovement !

So for fellow beginners, maybe my plan for plastic free July  will help you too !

Disclaimer : on July 1st I was on holiday in Burgundy and bought ham & pains au chocolat from a supermarket with single – use plastic packaging, so my plastic free July will go till August 1st.

vegan tiramisu.PNG
Photo Credit: @XBeccaBella

1.BAKE/DIY

The steps:

Step one:

Identify products with single use plastic packaging that you buy most often.

Yogurt

“Breakfast” cookies

Tiramisu desserts

Step two: make a plan. Monday, make cookies ✔. Tuesday, make yogurt. Thursday, make tiramisu.

Hopefully I can stick to it!

 

The story:

It wasn’t hard to identify try single use plastic products that are always on our grocery list. Obviously there’s so much more (olive oil containers, shredded cheese packets, applesauce desserts, ice cream…) but the most “necessary” and frequently purchased for us are yogurt, cookies, and tiramisu desserts. So  my first step for a successful plastic free July is to make those three things MYSELF!

I’m very excited to make yogurt (here’s one recipe) tomorrow, and today was cookies. I’m not sure when and how I’ll tackle the tiramisu (maybe a vegan recipe?) but I’ll try to keep you posted.

carbon footprint.PNG
Photo Credit @Evie Shaffer

The dilemma:
Whilst shopping for the ingredients, I noticed something funny. So much of the baking ingredients were wrapped in plastic – the ones I usually buy, ie: the baking powder, milk jugs , etc.  But it literally only took half a second to find alternatives in cardboard/ paper packaging. But careful: paper is not always better than plastic! So I adhered to the plastic free rule for the milk – but was it better for the environment? According to these articles by technik and the guardian and many others – not at all! BUT WAIT – they don’t mention oil use – whatsoever…
Now I’m confronted with the choice of polluting plastic and carbon-emitting cardboard. A quick google search led me to Jean Bouteille, a solution for purchasing many liquid products in reusable bottles that I’ll definitely keep in mind. But not everything is available – ie: milk. 

grocery 1

If anyone has the answer to this dilemma, I’m all ears! One thing’s for certain: before last November I was not even considering the impact of my purchases, so this is at least one step in the right direction.

 

odd box.PNG
Photo Credit: @Odd Box
  1. Get my man on board / do all the grocery shopping

 

The steps:

Step one: bake delicious breakfast cookies/cake to butter him up

Step two: ask him to hold you accountable / participate

Step three: if all else fails, do all (eekk!) the grocery shopping

The story :

It would be way too easy to say that I haven’t used any plastic this month if my other half is doing all the grocery shopping (as he usually does – yes I know I’m v lucky!)

So, while I can’t force him to change all his ways (he’s also quite eco friendly in many ways!), a one month challenge is something I can probably swing.

If not, I can vow to do all of this month’s grocery shopping alone. He’ll get a nice break as I’m almost never the one to do it! (Wish me luck on the pitch tonight!!)

Rather than purchasing his juice from the supermarket in a plastic bottle, by doing the grocery shopping myself I can ensure that I’m opting for cardboard or glass that we can reuse /recycle /repurpose (homemade vases anyone?!). When I shop, I rarely buy fruit /veg in large quantity, but when I do I almost always forgo the plastic veg bags. By vowing to do the grocery shopping myself this month, I can be sure that we stick to the no plastic rule!

The dilemma:

I’m a bit worried about this becoming a burden and our fridge being empty while I frantically run around the city looking for eco-friendly options, but it’s only the 2nd of July – I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Until then, any advice is welcome!

water bottle atlas ortos.PNG
Photo Credit: @Atlas and Ortos
  1. Actually Investing in a good reusable bottle

 

The steps:


Step one: Research and choose – I’m not quite there yet , but here’s where I’m starting:

Independent article

This blog post

 

The story:

Have you ever noticed that the less money you spend on something, the less you care about it, the more easily it disappears? I’ve been tempted the last few days to pick up just any sports bottle to replace the reusable one I lost 2 weeks ago, but I know that if I don’t put my heart into it, it’ll disappear just like the previous one.

 

The dilemma:

There are three.

Do I order one online? Does that kind of defeat the purpose of being eco friendly?

Do I get just a water bottle or one of those fancy cups with a straw or just a thermos ? Can’t I have all three in one?!

conscious container.jpg

  1. #ConsciousContainer

 

The steps:

Step one: bring a tupperware container to work that you leave at your desk

Step two: Use it every time you get take out for lunch

The story:

I was really self conscious about getting concerned side glances or being mocked for my ridiculous tupperware at the various hipster take out places around my work, but after using it just twice, I’m hooked – it felt so good today not having to throw anything out! And instead of the feared concerned side glances, I got endearing smiles, so no worries there – and anyway, who cares?

The dilemma:

Just this one about plastic tupperware and health – but it cannot be worse than the plastic the restaurants are using! The tupperware I use most often is from Ikea is #5 – so among the safest for repeated use. Fortunately that’s the one I chose for my #ConsciousContainer at work.

Even after putting these few steps into action, it’s inevitable that I’ll have a million more questions as the month progresses.
But for now I’m happy to at least have a 4 step plan that seems attainable! So, for all your sustainable shopping adventures, be they in malls or thrift shops, supermarkets or farmer’s markets, I wish you
happy hunting!

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