In some respects the challenge is fairly basic, there are many different ways of avoiding plastic on everyday life. Until you hit those days when you find yourself caught without time to make lunch, forgetting to fill up your water canteen, or just desperately in need of some bread on a Sunday evening.....Then you need to get a little bit creative....
Plastic Free July is an initiative that emerged in 2011 in Perth, Western Australia. Since then it has grown into a global movement, which endeavours to eliminate single use plastic from our lives for the month of July. By 2014 over 14,000 individuals, schools, businesses and organisations from 69 countries participated in the challenge.
The challenge is quite simple. Attempt to refuse single-use plastic during July. "Single-use" includes plastic shopping bags, plastic cups, straws, plastic packaging...basically anything that's intended only to be used once and then discarded. If refusing ALL single-use plastic sounds too daunting this time, try the TOP 4 challenge (plastic bags, bottles takeaway coffee cups & straws).
- Attempt to refuse single-use plastic during July.
- Remember it's not going to be easy! It is a challenge, not a competition so don't worry about being perfect.
- Collect any unavoidable single-use plastic you buy. Keep in a dilemma bag and share it with us at the end of the challenge.
- It's up to you regarding how long you participate. You might decide to go plastic-free for a day, a week, a month or longer! However long you choose will still make a contribution.
It began slowly, around the middle of June I started to plan ways of navigating around single-use plastic in the home, ways of condensing my habits into a more sustainable regime. First stop "LUSH" for some beautiful bars of shampoo and conditioner. These are great, I had taken some travelling in the past as they are super compact and often double up in their uses and hand/face/body and hair-care, in fact if you don't fancy the bars "Lush" also run a great recycling system for their black plastic pots where they aim for a "closed loop" and eventually sustainable packaging system. Read more about it here
I also discovered that my local health food shop (The Natural Store, Falmouth) runs a system for refilling laundry detergent and washing up liquid from large cartons in store. You can also get hand-soap and fabric softener under the same system. A great way of minimising your household waste and often the bottles for these products are large and use a lot of plastic.
Food shopping, I anticipated, would be the next big hurdle. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Shopping a the green grocers meant just putting everything together in a bag (the people on the check out are nearly always happy to weigh things without bags) Even in the supermarket, I have managed to escape unscathed, ultimately, shopping plastic free means that you are that bit more considerate about what goes into your body and home. Yes you miss out packaged biscuits and quick snacks, cheese can be an issue, but taking plastic containers to the deli counter and getting them to put stickers on the box hasn't caused me any trouble yet! In fact more often than not, if you take the time to explain to people what you are trying to achieve they are very interested and will go out of their way to help. Which is very encouraging as spreading the word about plastic-free living is what this is really about...
The internet is full of handy life-hacks about how to remove waste from our lives at the moment. From cleaning with vinegar to conditioning with coconut oil, no effort is too small, every little helps in the fight to cut down the amount of waste that goes to land fill every year. What is interesting is that trying simply to cut down on the amount of rubbish you produce, could inadvertently lead to a cleaner life in other ways. By baking bread, learning to roll pasta and cooking fresh food from scratch you will cut down the amount of processed sugars and preservatives going into your system. Who knows, you might even enjoy it!
At EXXpedition we are investigating the long term affects of plastic toxins on our bodies and eco-systems, often people ask which we are targeting more. But the truth is that the global eco-system is inter-related. Rubbish in the Sea is as much a problem for us as it is for the marine life that is actively affected by it. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the waste we are producing, it does not just vanish into a magical hole in the ground. Everything is finite, there is no "throw-away".
Read more about #plasticfreejuly here