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Welcome back! This is Part Two of my post-Plastic Free July roundup, so if you haven’t done so already – head here to read Part One first!
A brief recap…
What’s Plastic Free July?
I’m so glad you asked! Born in Western Australia in 2011, Plastic Free July is now a major international movement with participants in over 150 countries world-wide. And it’s exactly what it sounds like! For one month, you’re encouraged to think mindfully about the plastic that you consume. How far you take Plastic Free July is up to you – you can choose to skip the ‘big four’ for a month, reduce the amount of recyclable plastic you’re using, or pass on plastic entirely for the while month of July!
Plastic is one of the biggest environmental problems of our generation – in fact, it’s a nightmare! We’ve made more plastic in the first ten years of this century than in the entire 20th Century. And every scrap of that plastic is still hanging around, wreaking havoc on our world. It’s clogging up our landfills, polluting our oceans, and using up precious non-reusable resources. And most of the time, we don’t even need it! The majority of plastics enter our lives for a few minutes to a few hours before being binned, and these convenience-based single-used plastics are the main focus of Plastic Free July.
Choosing to be more mindful about your plastic consumption for four weeks is intended to reduce your eco footprint, protect the oceans from the onslaught of plastic, and help you to consume more mindfully!
Ok, but isn’t almost September?
Yes, dear readers, yes it is. During the month of July, I was actually in the middle of a full-time contract that I agreed to for a fixed period of time. And boy, did that drain my creative mojo! But more on that later. Needless to say, I’m a little behind on my post-PFJ debrief. So let’s not waste any more time – on with the second part of the post! (Again, head here if you missed Part One)
So how did I go with my goals?
At the beginning of July, I listed four things that I wanted to cut down on: teabags, online shopping, recyclable waste, and ‘just this one time’ purchases.
So how did I go? Well, for the first time ever, I fully committed to using loose-leaf tea. I kept a pot on my desk at work and slowly drank my way through two jars of tea across the course of a month! Working in a 9-5 job made it easier to get in the habit of washing my teaball out before I forgot about it, so this goal was a lot easier to achieve than it might have been otherwise (I am so always the one leaving forgotten mouldering teaballs in the sink).
I also managed to go a whole month without buying anything online! Great for my wallet, great for the environment, and definitely great for someone who is still yet to finish the Minimalism Game. The coffee cup I mentioned in my last post was ordered in June, but did arrive in July, so I wanted to be absolutely transparent and include its packaging in my wrap-up image.
Setting aside the milk bottles, coffee bags, and kitty care items that I mentioned last week, all of my recyclables were included in my Plastic Bin of Shame. So as you can see, I did ok avoiding them! While I desperately missed my frozen berries, the thought of having to keep and declare the bag at the end of the month was enough to keep me on track. The same goes for my ‘just this one time’ purchases (apart from my one pint of ice cream). The thought of having to admit my slip-ups at the end of the month really kept me on track.
What helped me keep my plastic waste to a minimum?
Organise, organise, organise! Heading into Plastic Free July, I expected my plastic waste to be a lot worse than it was. What I didn’t realise was that a number of the systems I’ve put into place across the last year of sustainable living have become second nature for me. Even the few tiny changes I made in my first baby steps to zero waste helped me to avoid a whole lotta plastic waste across July. Add the Plastic Free Kit that I’ve slowly been putting together with free and purchased items and a few seconds of thought before I headed out the door was all I needed to keep my waste down across the day!
So if I did so well, what was this MASSIVE mistake?
On the right – my plastic waste for four weeks. On the left – one delivery of Hello Fresh.
Can I get a WTH?
A little backstory – a long time ago, I used to get Hello Fresh delivered on a fortnightly basis, and it was the best. I would cook up the entire box in one evening, freeze most of the meals, and live like a king for weeks. Cut to a few years later, and Hello Fresh made a last ditch attempt to get me back into the fold by offering me a free box. I had been toying with the idea of a post on the financial and sustainability aspects of meal subscriptions for a few months, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I didn’t even think about Plastic Free July!
The box itself looked moderately promising – Hello Fresh have taken care to cover it in reminders to recycle the packaging inside, and I remembered that of their products were packaged in paper when I used them last. Mildly optimistic, I opened to box to find three brown paper bags (still promising), and a biodegradable cool bag.
….and that’s about where the good news ends.
Inside those three brown bags? Plastic, plastic, and more plastic. Where you used to get a plastic-free knob of garlic, you now get the exact number of garlic cloves you need for the recipe in a plastic bag. Two mint leaves required? Plastic carton. One cup of rice? You got it, plastic bag.
Massive Plastic Free July Fail
While meal boxes may be great for food waste, they are a nightmare for plastic waste. Goodbye, any dreams I had of returning to my old Hello Fresh ways! While the Hello Fresh recipes are amazing, there’s no way I can justify introducing that much plastic into my life on a regular basis.
I guess I’ll have to keep shopping for myself like a planet-saving schmuck for the moment! But if anyone has a hookup with an amazing plastic-free meal kit service, let your gal know.
What do you think? Did you participate in Plastic Free July?