Be Kind to Yourself
My number 1 tip is to go gently with yourself and don’t expect the journey to be painless. Unless you have infinite time and plenty of money, you may struggle to keep plastic out of your life completely. Think of this like a gentle experiment, particularly if you have a family of people you are also shopping for – make an exercise of looking at the waste you do collect each week and how you can recycle, re-purpose or avoid it for the next week. Another great measurement is to look at your landfill bin in the weeks prior to starting – has it gone down, stayed the same or increased?
What’s the opposite of Marie Kondo?
Now I’m not saying you need to end up on hoarders, but the last thing you need to be doing is going all gung-ho by throwing out all your plastic and replacing it with glass or another Instagram-worthy eco product. Whilst there are some very useful plastic free alternatives, such as a good quality keep cup for your takeaway coffee and re-useable straws for the kids milkshakes, going out and replacing all your plastic items with glass in one fell swoop is going to create more waste than it saves. Each time something breaks, or needs replacing I like to think about how I am going to replace it with the best low waste option – for instance I just replaced my broken razor with a zero waste
Plan Plan Plan
I cannot say this enough. Without planning meals, going plastic free is going to be very difficult. Also, don’t start creating a bunch of vegan, super-foody meals if that’s not what you’re already eating – you’ll find you end up with a bunch of jars full at the end of plastic free July (when the momentum wears off) which you don’t use. Definitely try some new recipes – and overall you’ll find you need to cut down on a lot of processed food to make “plastic free” work for you, but try and find alternatives of things that you and your family already eat.
Make Markets your friend
By far the best friend of a low-waste family is your local markets. Whether they be upscale, trendy markets, or bric-a-brac type markets, you can’t go past the fresh and cheaper produce – not to mention it’s a great place for picking up second-hand bargains, vege seedlings and home-made plastic free soaps and food.
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With produce so expensive it’s extra incentive to use up every last bit and avoid #foodwaste 👍 here’s what will happen to these beauties: 🌎strawberries will be eaten by themselves and if they start to look funky they will be made into strawberry chia jam. You can freeze this in blocks too! 🌍baby carrots will be roasted and 1/2 the tops will go in hummus the others will be made into carrot top pesto. 🌎1/3 cauliflower will be steamed and eaten, 1/3 made into pickle which lasts weeks and 1/3 steamed and blended with spices and nutritional yeast to make white sauce. 🌎broccoli will be steamed and eaten stalks and all, if I get to much I grate the stalk into salads or pasta sauce and finally …. 🌎lettuce…requested by the 4 year old no less…I have no idea what to do with leftovers so I’ll let you know!! #lovefoodhatewaste #freshfood #waronwaste
Now, I know I said not to replace all your goods. But I would suggest looking at what you could change one by one. For instance, here are a few things we have swapped from plastic versions to eco-friendly versions over the last 2 years which have worked for us:
Using plastic vegetable bags swap to reuseable cloth bags
Plastic dish brush to a wood dish brush
Plastic & metal razor swap to a stainless steel safety razor
Plastic toilet brush swap to wood toilet brush
Plastic containers (as they break) swap to glass containers or jars
Disposable coffee cups swap to reuseable coffee cups
Plastic serving spoons swap to wood spoons
Pod coffee machine swap to inexpensive machine which uses coffee grinds (first we utilised reuseable pods)
These are just a few of the useful swaps we have made, but we’ve done this over a period of a couple of years.
I would love to hear what swaps you are finding during plastic free July!