Plastic Free July (The Good and the Bad!)
Even although it might seem a bit crazy to dedicate only 1 month to making much more of an effort with living without single use plastic, I actually found it very useful and will definitely be using the month to make changes that will last way beyond the month.
I think, apart from anything else, having the challenge of the month just makes you realise how much single use plastic we really do use.
The challenges I found were that it takes longer to shop, as instead of just going to 1 supermarket, it means shopping in a few different places. This, however, I felt actually was mostly a good thing as it meant that you end up doing more shopping at greengrocers and markets and we discovered wee incredible shops like the tea shop in Dingwall where you can bring your own containers. It obviously feels great though to get home and know that you have supported your local businesses and managed to not take home any single use plastic
Another huge challenge I feel I am struggling with a bit at the moment is how much of this responsibility of shopping without plastic is put onto the consumer. Sure, it is us that should be consciously choosing what we are buying and we do have to take some responsibility, but in a world where the amount of plastic is so enormous, I feel it is a lot to put on each individual person to always be making the right choices, especially when there are huge hurdles to get across such as often the plastic packaged items are cheaper and it takes time and dedication from the person actually doing the shopping. I feel that if changes were made at a governmental level then all this wouldn’t be so difficult!
There were lots of benefits though, including eating a bit better as there are so many things that you can’t buy, including most bars of chocolate! And when you see the positive feedback at the markets at the Let’s Go Lentil stall and shopping without plastic then you remember that there are lots of other people trying to do this as well and that how we spend our money really does matter.
One of the best things about having a focus month for me was taking time to break some habits. Walking to the greengrocer store rather than doing everything under one roof, or planning meals for the week ahead before the Saturday market to see what groceries that I could pick up there. Being better organised means that I never leave home without a container or two and I’ve had some really lovely conversations with small business owners and want to continue to support them.
Avoiding single use plastic has meant more cooking from scratch, with bread, cheese (paneer), and oatcakes the big items that I usually wouldn’t have attempted. There has also been lots of homemade banana bread 😊.
Aside from food, I also replaced some cleaning equipment (when the time came) and am now the owner of a bamboo dish brush and a cleaning cloth that will last me years (apparently) and is made from natural material. I also recently purchased some plastic free dishwasher tablets made by EcoLeaf. I have been using Soap Nuts for my laundry for over a year now and that will continue as I’m really pleased with them, although I can’t tear myself away from fabric conditioner so not a win there, I’m afraid.
Taking some time to stop, slow down and think about my purchases has been a brilliant experience. Moving forward I want to stay in these habits, but realistically there will be some plastic creeping in
at times as it is everywhere. I saw a quote recently which read “We don’t need a few people doing plastic-free perfectly. We need millions doing it imperfectly” so, if you’ve been thinking about making some changes but find it all a bit daunting then go for it!
We would be really keen to hear of your experiences of avoiding plastic both the good and the bad so please feel free to share anything with us. Thanks for reading :)