Prep time for plastic-free July
Hello fabulous people
First there was Movember, then Junk Free June, Steptember and now there is Plastic Free July. While the name doesn't roll off the tongue, what could they do? There's no month beginning with P. Anyway, Plastic Free July is another of these great campaigns to raise awareness of and encourage positive change - as this one is for positive environmental reasons it's my fave (and because a whole month without chocolate is a sad month indeed).
Unlike Movember, Junk Free June and Steptember you need to prepare for Plastic Free July in advance - but lucky for you, I did this last year and have a few tips to help you succeed....so, read on team...
Decide how far you'll go before July starts. Know right now it will be very hard to be 100% plastic free, unless you have oodles of time on your hands, so I suggest the best commitment is simply to try your best. Any reduction you make in your use of plastic will have great benefits.
Ditch Gladwrap and get/make some Honeywraps instead (see earlier post).
Stop using plastic bags as bin liners - spread the bin's bottom with paper towels/newspaper instead and clean the bin out more often.
Start paying more attention in the supermarket aisles now and identify the brands that sell things in glass jars rather than plastic e.g. jam or mayo and figure out how you'll substitute - warn the kids that it'll be Vegemite rather than Marmite for the month, or that you'll start making your own hummus instead of buying those plastic containers.
Buy/find a collection of groovy reusable bags that you're not embarrased to be seen with, leave them in the car and remember they are an accessory to take actually into the shop...then you are prepared and can say no to plastic bags at the checkout. (If you do forget your bags, ask the shop for boxes, or pack your groceries at the car).
Buy some reusable vegie bags (see The Green Collective post). Then commit to buying loose fruit and vegies, rather than ones in pre-packed plastic bags.
Find a collection of glass jars/containers so you can start shopping for bulk goods. If you're teetering on the side of OCD like me, you'll want the jars to match, or at least be large enough for what you'll use them for. Try second hand stores, your Nana's garage, your Mum's pantry.
Scope out your nearest bulk goods store / zero waste store (like Good For in Auckland or the Bin Inn NZ-wide) then commit to shopping there for July. For those of you new to this way of shopping, it's awesome and painless - you simply arrive, get your containers weighed at the counter (even if there are remnants at the bottom), then mooch round the aisles refilling your gorgeous glass containers with what you like and as much as you like, then take back up to the counter for weighing the product. Other than the lack of packaging waste, the best bit about shopping this way for me is getting home and moving my containers straight into the pantry. No extra unpacking or waste to deal with. Boom! It'll surprise you what's available in bulk - things like malt vinegar, golden syrup, choose-your-own-consistency-peanut-butter, cat biscuits etc.
Commit to saying no to plastic straws, (they really are ridiculous and pointless to us, but SO harmful to sea creatures) and anticipate the bartender making your much desired G&T by saying "no straw thanks sugar" when you order. If you love drinking from straws buy some reusable stainless steel ones like here.
Make a takeaway kit for your car/handbag with reusable cutlery/a straw/coffee cup.
Enjoy the liberation you'll feel at helping save the planet.
Learn how best to recycle the plastics you can't avoid. For soft plastics collect them and put them in the special green & red bin at your local supermarket (Australian wide).
Once you start on this journey you'll become more aware of plastic and, I hope, avoid it as much as you can, even after July is over. Better yet, get some friends/work mates on board too so you can share and learn tips.
Love, Pen x