My desire to go plastic-free in July was inspired by reading into the wider issue of single-use plastics. They’re having a devastating impact on our environment and wildlife, particularly marine life – it shocked me to discover that it’s now estimated 90% of all seabirds have some form of plastic in their stomachs.

I’ve shared my experiences of going plastic-free in my previous blogs, so here are the lessons I’ve learned in going plastic-free in July.

Drowning in plastic
At the beginning of the month the scale of the challenge seemed overwhelming and everywhere I looked, plastic was all around. It was eye-opening to see how much I had in my house and I didn’t really know where to begin, so I decided to take small steps first. I started taking my lunch into work every day and took a re-usable bottle everywhere I went, as well as a bamboo cutlery set. This immediately cut my plastic waste and felt like an easy swap.  

Plastic-free heroes
Once I’d started with the small swaps, I looked into plastic-free alternatives to my everyday essentials and came across some amazing plastic-free companies, like Plastic Freedom and The Kind Store. I was pleased to discover the cosmetics company Lush has a great range of packaging-free cosmetics and toiletries.

I swapped out my kitchen sponge, teabags, makeup remover wipes, body wash, face wash, shampoo and conditioner to plastic-free alternatives. The initial cost was expensive, but as most of these products came in bar form or are re-usable, there should be significant long-term savings.

Food for thought
The first time I went food shopping during plastic-free July was so frustrating. Pretty much all of the fruit and veg is wrapped in some form of plastic. Finding plastic-free alternatives was time-consuming and the whole experience took about half an hour longer than usual. I looked at my trolley and felt like I’d failed!

From the second week onwards it was much easier, I was able to avoid the plastic traps and switched my fruit and veg shopping to our local farm shop – 90% of their fruit and veg is plastic free. The produce is cheaper and tastier too!

The plastic problem
Because plastic is so cheap and easy to manufacture, it’s everywhere you look. I learnt that it’s ok not to be perfect all the time – there are times when you’ll have no choice but to purchase something wrapped in plastic. Don’t be too hard on yourself, making small changes elsewhere all adds up!

Plastic-free for the future
Although plastic-free July is over, I intend to continue with my journey. Going plastic-free has been eye-opening and the amount of waste, as well as plastic we produce as a household has reduced dramatically. This challenge has made me realise that even if we all make small swaps such as switching to a re-usable coffee cup and refusing plastic straws, the impact we can make as a collective is huge.