Plastic Free July – it’s a (beeswax) wrap!
Plastic Free July has come to an end, and our intrepid team is reflecting on how we’ve done, what we could have done better, and what we’ve learned in a month of no plastic.
What was our greatest challenge?
Plastic is convenient and makes living on the run easy and relatively cheap (not counting the environmental cost). So living without plastic takes away some of that convenience, requiring a lot more planning and time, like visiting multiple shops to get the groceries you’d normally buy from just one.
Kate found visiting different shops more time consuming when she was travelling by bike (although she got a lot of exercise!), while Caitlin found some smaller stores were only open during work hours.
We also found that some food items were just impossible to get without plastic wrapping – tofu and tempeh for vegetarians was particularly tricky. It also meant we had to eat seasonally, as most out of season fruit and vegetables seem to be plastic-wrapped.
We also realised that our world is really covered in plastic – we focused on the single use plastics we use every day, but didn’t get to dig deeper into items like computers, pens, most office equipment and household appliances, to name just a few.
What was our best discovery?
But it wasn’t all bad! Our team found some great local products and suppliers that are doing their bit to reduce plastic in innovative and inspiring ways.
Nadine loved switching to face cleanser and shampoo in a bar and tried a natural deodorant packed in a small glass jar. Shannon was impressed that her local supermarket now has loose leaf lettuces, and a refill station for ecostore household cleaning products. Caitlin loved the glass milk bottles provided by her local fresh produce supplier, which she could return to be reused. And Kate was excited about the snacks she could make just with bulk ingredients - including her own crackers!
What was the main thing we learned?
Caitlin found that Plastic Free July was a wakeup call. “I’ve learned to be more conscious”, she says. “We are such creatures of convenience, but if we look a little harder we can find a lot of products that are plastic free”.
Kate found the same and recommends setting aside time on the weekend to get organised in advance, prepping snacks and meals and getting the shopping done, while Shannon suggests always carrying a Keep Cup, metal straw and resuable cutlery in your bag.
Nadine really loved working with the Enviro-Mark Solutions team to find new solutions and share tips and tricks, but also feels that consumers alone shouldn’t be responsible for solving the plastic problem. Retailers and producers have a role to play in making plastic free options accessible – including logistics and price!
At present, going plastic free is challenging. You have to be resourceful and prepared to put in extra time and energy. What’s really encouraging is the growing momentum for consumers, retailers and producers to really step up and make a change. There are some fantastic companies already minimising their plastic which proves it can be done!
Missed our other Plastic Free July posts? Check them out on our news page here.