A challenge worth doing
Are you having a go at #plasticfreejuly this year?
It's been wonderful to meet so many taking up the challenge and using our store, either to pick up some reusables or having a go at refilling their containers.
So what is Plastic free July and why should you do it?
It was started right here in Perth and has grown to a global movement to refuse single use plastics for the month of July. They list the "top 4" being: plastic shopping bags, straws, water bottles and coffee cups. All of these have great, budget and splurdge friendly alternatives and none are absolutely necessary for most people. During plastic free July you are challenged to either take your reusables with you and refuse the single use option. (see https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/ )
There are pros and cons to this idea. The pros are it's free to sign up, there's no fundraising involved and you choose how much, or little, effort you make. The con to this though is there's no 'penalty' if you drop out (you haven't invested any money) and if you choose to only do a small part it kind of defeats the purpose.
However, it IS worth the effort, especially if you are just dipping your toe in the water of low waste. The perfect excuse to explain to friends and family why you might be doing something different like refusing the plastic water bottle and filling your own at a bbq or forgoing a take away coffee if you forgot your cup. You can test out the tricks to remembering your resuables (hint, have a spare set in your car!) and it makes you think about what you are going to eat or drink while out which often leads to you spending less on takeaways.
If you get caught out, don't worry, dispose of your rubbish thoughtfully or wash and reuse. Use it as an experience of what to expect next time. For example a local coffee shop ALWAYS gives a single butter portion tub and plastic knife with every takeaway banana bread, even if you bring your own container for it! We've learnt to include the request for 'no butter or knife' when placing the order.
Some other hidden surprises while out are:
Soy fish: probably the most prolific species in Australia (!) these little plastic fish look cute, but not refillable, returnable or recyclable! So millions of them end up in landfill, or worse waterways and nature strips, daily. Politely refuse the fish and make use of the soy sauce bottle usually available on the tables or counter or ask if they have one behind the counter.
Individually wrapped biscuits: If one of these is presented with your coffee, give it back. At least being wrapped means they CAN, and should, reuse it.
Napkins: If you don't need one, don't take it. If you do, try to take it home to compost.
Drink Stirrers: Again, if you don't need, don't take. If you do, ask if they have an actual spoon kicking around for you to use.
Receipts: Unfortunately the thermal paper most EFTPOS receipts are printed on is not recyclable. At best, most receipts you just don't need and the paper can be saved. If it can be emailed, why not!
Pamphlets and freebies: Just because it's free does not mean you need it! Think twice before accepting a free gift. If you will not actually use it, politely refuse.
If you've already tackled the Top 4 and are sorted whilst out and about, plastic free July is a great time to have a go at something you haven't had a go at yet. Have you trying out your local bulk food store yet or asked the local butcher if they will take your containers to fill with meat? Start with your most used pantry staples bulk food stores always have: flour, sugar, pasta, rice, nuts. Grab a couple of containers or jars and pop them in a bag. Ask the employees to help you if you haven't done it before, they would be more than happy to show you how it works. Write a meal plan for the week and shop accordingly (see our blog about meal planning here).
Think outside the square with what you do have: your coffee cup can be a receptacle for all sorts of things: leftovers, ice-cream or even as an emergency container at the bulk food store!
Think about your food waste. Do you find yourself throwing a lot of food away each week? Research some recipes to utilise leftovers and embrace the money saving of taking your lunch to work each day! Have you got room for a compost bin or worm farm for the scraps. Freeze vegetable scraps in a container and use to make vegetable stock.
Have the conversations! Plastic free July is also a great conversation starter. Ask a friend and family member what their favourite takeaway coffee cup is. If they don't have one, start a conversation: what attributes they might like in one, how would they remember it and why should they use it. Have a plastic free picnic with your friends and challenge them to not only bring a dish with no single use plastic but also no throwaway cutlery, plates and cups.
You will be pleasantly surprised by how many people are either already taking the challenge, or a re curious to get started. Many hands, doing many small things, make light work and big change. :-)