Drowning in plastic – my plastic free July challenge
After seeing both the recent BBC documentary the War on Plastic and Blue Planet, I’ve been horrified to see the impact that single use plastics are having on the environment and on wildlife. A particular statistic that shocked me was that in the UK we throw away around 16.5 billion pieces of single-use plastic cutlery every year.
To me this seems like an unbelievable amount and it’s inspired me to try and give up as much single-use plastic as I can.
Whilst researching the plastic-free / zero waste movement online I came across Plastic Free July – a global movement encouraging people to refuse single-use plastics throughout the month of July – and I decided to give it a go!
Although living completely plastic free is probably a step too far for me right now, I’m aiming to reduce the amount of single-use plastic I buy and use over the month of July and I’ll be sharing my journey here – read on to find out how I got on.
Monday 1 July
I’m currently on holiday in Zante and as we aren’t doing much today except for sitting by the pool I’m able to make a good start on going plastic-free during July. I can get free water from the bar and the smoothie I order arrives in a glass mason jar. We have lunch in the hotel’s restaurant, meaning we avoid plastic cutlery, and I remember to ask the bartender not to give me a straw, so not a bad start all in all!
Tuesday 2 July
Today we travel home from Zante and although I try my best, the wheels come off today. We have a mid-day flight, so the morning flies by in a haze of packing, but before we leave the hotel we have one last glass of water and then travel over to the airport.
Zante airport is tiny, with a couple of cafes dotted around and not much else. I manage to buy a sandwich and ask them to put it in a paper bag, which they do for me, but getting water that isn’t bottled from here on out is impossible as the tap water isn’t drinkable in Zante. I buy a large bottle of water for myself and my husband to share and hope this option is a bit better than buying individual bottles – we take this on the plane and try and make it last as long as possible. By the time the food trolley comes around, I’m starving – but there aren’t any plastic-free options so I give in and order a sandwich (feeling surprisingly guilty as I do).
Wednesday 3 July
I’m back at work and back to reality! I have a s’well re-usable bottle in the cupboard at home, so I pour in some water from the fridge and add a few ice cubes to keep it nice and cold. I also bought a set of re-usable stainless steel straws so I pop one of these in my work bag.
We go out for lunch and although I’m well-prepared with my reusable straw, the place we go to for lunch provides paper ones! I’m struggling to find snacks that aren’t wrapped in plastic, so on the way back to the office I go into a local grocery store and pick up some loose fruit.
Thursday 4 July
Today I decide to bring in my own lunch. For most of this year I’ve been buying lunch out every day which is not only an expensive habit to have, but it’s made me think about how wasteful it is. I pack myself a nice healthy lunch in my reusable, stainless steel lunchbox and I can use the cutlery at work so I don’t need to bring a knife and fork with me.
My snacks today are an apple, an orange and a packet of crisps. The individually packaged crisps are an issue, so I decide to buy a large bag of crisps in my next food shop and divide it into portions, rather than buying a multipack, to cut down on packaging. Plastic-free packaged crisps seem pretty much impossible to find!
Friday 5 July
I have the same lunch as yesterday, so I put it all in a re-usable tote bag and take it along to work with me. In the evening, I go out for dinner with a friend and order a mocktail, but it comes with what appears to be a plastic straw. –I speak to the barman and he explains the straws are actually made entirely from cornstarch, which means they look like plastic but are completely biodegradable and they dispose of them amongst their food waste. I enjoy my mocktail even more!
Saturday 6 July and Sunday 7 July
It’s finally the weekend! We have a double helping of BBQ’s and I have a feeling that navigating this plastic-free is going to be a bit of a nightmare! On Saturday we have a hog-roast so I’m able to refuse a plate and eat my bun without the need for cutlery or a plastic plate. We go to a family BBQ on Sunday and I feel slightly awkward asking for a proper plate and knife and fork rather than the paper plates on offer, but my sister in law gladly obliges. This gets me talking about the challenge with the family and I think I’ve now got a few of them on board too!
This first week hasn’t been without it’s challenges, however the small swaps such as bringing my lunch in, carrying everything in a re-usable bag and bringing my own cutlery with me have helped make a big impact already. I’m starting to plan how I’m going to tackle the food shop next week – I’ll let you know how I get on!
Here are our quick wins to ensure you’re a homeworking hero:
• Stay hydrated
• Get up and move around regularly
• Schedule social time
• Plan your day
• Have separate spaces for work and living
• Appreciate what’s gone well and give yourself credit