Saturdays with Shavara
The Challenge of the Plastic Free Challenge
Happy Saturday lovely green people and welcome back to another Saturday with yours truly. This July we celebrated “Plastic Free July” which is a new-ish challenge to go plastic free for the entire month of July. Rather than start my post at the beginning of the month discussing the challenge I figured I would try something new and report back my own experience with my participation; what worked for me, what didn’t and what the overall take a way was from the experience, so buckle up and prepare yourself for this bumpy journey as I recap my encounters with plastic and my attempts at avoiding it for an entire month!
Plastic Free July is one of the key initiatives of the Plastic Free Foundation that allows the organization to work towards their vision of seeing a world free of plastic waste. From their modest beginning in 2011, the award-winning Plastic Free July campaign is the result of years of diligent hard work. The campaign was started by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, who is the the founder of the Plastic Free Foundation along with a small team of local government officials in Western Australia, today the environmental campaign is hugely popular, and people participate all across the world. Roughly 250 million people in 177 countries across the world that take part in the challenge and many go on to make commitments to reducing their plastic pollution beyond the month of July and some go on to commit to living completely plastic free lifestyles.
Plastic is all around us and is used in literally the most common of our daily lives, to the point that avoiding it can feel like an impossible task. The plastic free July challenge really drove home the point that my own personal obliviousness to the amount of plastic I use really needed to be addressed beyond tossing out the use of plastic bags. I realized how creative I would have to become to accomplish almost the most basic of task (shout out to people doing plastic free lifestyles 365). From what I collected my shopping purchases in, to what I was actually purchasing I had to consider the amount of plastic that was used. Swapping out shopping markets for farmers markets was a great way to eliminate visiting establishments that used unnecessary plastic for bagging produce or even crating berries and other fruits. I also got in the habit of carrying around a reusable “survival kit”, which included a reusable water bottle, coffee cup, spoon and fork and bag and for those that enjoy drinking out of straws tossing in a reusable one of those would be a great addition as well!
My next big obstacle on my plastic free challenge was at home, which I simplified by breaking down my plastic use by rooms; kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom . In the kitchen I realized purchasing in bulk, storing food in reusable containers and making sure to purchase my items for the kitchen using reusable bags was a great way to remain plastic free. The laundry room called for me to break- up with an old favorite which was with my dryer sheets that are surprisingly made of polyester (a form of polymer plastic) sheet that has been covered in a fabric softener chemical and usually fragrance chemicals, which means it’s pretty bad for the environment. The chemicals used in the dryer sheets rub off and coat your clothing in a filmy layer that has the effect of making your clothes feel softer. The non-plastic alternative to this I found was to toss in a non-toxic wool ball or during these hot summer days lay out my clothes to simply air dry. Purchasing the clothing detergent in bulk cuts down on the amount of plastic that you would normally be needed over a long period of time and purchasing brands that sell their product in powder form in the cardboard container is an even better alternative.
The bathroom called for my creative juices to really flow, so I started with my toothbrush where I found a great array of alternatives and settled on a pack of bamboo toothbrushes, which are just as easy to find in stores as the plastic counterparts. Buying traditional bar soap sold in cardboard boxes is easy to find and also eliminated the issue of how one can continue to practice good hygiene during this no plastic challenge (ha- ha). There is even a market for shampoo and conditioner bars although those aren’t always sold in mainstream stores. I will admit most of the items that are somewhat low plastic in their production still come in plastic packaging, so in some ways that pesky plastic is still unavoidable.
All in all the challenge has been just that quite a challenge, but it has taught me to consider more about my actions and how every purchase makes me a responsible or irresponsible consumer. I feel I have learned some better habits for lowering my plastic use and I hope sharing my plastic free challenge journey has been helpful to you! I hope you join me next year on #MyPlasticFreeJuly! As always Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Until next time green folks!
KOB’s Very own Blog Contributor,