When we decided to start the Plastic Free July Movement we already had a few good eco-friendly practices in place when it came to our everyday living.
Adopting a few new ones did not necessarily mean that we have to lose anything so we decided to go all in and try to not to purchase any single use plastic during the month of July.
Was it difficult, you ask me?
YES! More difficult than I thought it would be.
The supermarket that we usually get our essentials from was basically a plastic dumpster, we could barely get anything from there anymore, so we had to outsource our fruit and vegetables, meat and fish from smaller businesses.
I really enjoyed the fact that this movement didn't only force us to stop buying single use plastic, but it also meant that we got to support local businesses and giving back to our community.
Here are a few things that we changed in our behaviour as consumers during July and we still do after it.
1. Reusable shopping bags
We have always been prepared for shopping trips by filling the car up with reusable bags, but during July we made sure to also bring our paper bags from previous shopping trips for loose vegetables and fruit. This didn't only save us money by not having to buy more bags, but now we have a bunch of large canvas shopping bags, which means that we probably won't have to buy any in a while,
2. Brought our own containers to the fishmonger and butcher
Since we couldn't buy prepackaged fish or meat we had to bring our own containers to the fishmonger or butcher. I like to keep containers from takeaways and use those for such purpose, instead of throwing them out. These containers are also good for storing meat or vegetables or any cooked food in them and then put in the freezer. They're also easy to wash and you will be using them for a long time.
3. Opted for a Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Detergent
Part of our struggles with plastic was finding eco friendly alternatives for cleaning products, such as laundry detergent. I did some digging and research and found a company called SMOL, which runs as a subscription depending on how frequently you do your laundry. The best thing is that the packaging is plastic free and recyclable. They also cut out the middlemen, meaning that the laundry capsules come straight from the manufacturer to my door = lower carbon footprint. WIN WIN!
4. Refilled our containers for hand soap, dishwashing soap
We have been loving getting our essentials from the local zero waste store, called CORE Leamington.
We have been bulk buying our oats, hemp hearts, chia seeds, coconut flakes and all kinds of nuts and pastas.
Plastic free July made us reach out and ask for help with everyday items, such as hand soap and dishwashing soap and thankfully, the owners of Core already had these in store, so all we had to do was to take our containers with us and they would refill it every time we ran out. No Plastic involved!
I know it may sound to some of you that it takes a lot of effort, but once you get the hang of these things, it just comes naturally. It's been done before, so I strongly believe we can do it!
5. Metal Razor
This has been on my To Do List for a while now, but only recently I decided to make the change. I didn't want to just throw out all my disposable razors out straight away so I waited until I used all of them and then I made the LIFE-CHANGING purchase.
Honestly, this is a pretty easy choice to make and it will save you a lot of money in the long run. It's not only the plastic handles, but also the packaging that can only be recycled in some areas and often end up in landfill. According to the EPA, it takes about a 1000 years for these to degrade.
A classic design with a newfound demand, safety razors are making a comeback so your body hair won’t.
I've got mine from Amazon (Click the link to get yours):
6. Reusable Cotton Pads
Another important purchase I made was a pack of 5 reusable cotton pads.
According to WWF, the amount of water needed to produce one kilogram of cotton, which is one of our basic white T-Shirts, is the same amount of water one person would drink over three years. Bearing that in mind, we at least keep our trusted t-shirts for longer than a day, so imagine the amount of water we waste on a single-use cotton pad.
Not only would removing them from our beauty routines reduce water wastage but think of how much less we’d be emptying our bins if we weren’t chucking a cotton pad away every time we apply our toner in the evening. Less cotton pads thrown away, equals less cotton pads going straight to landfill.
You'd think that this solves out problems, but there's more to it. The pesticides used to grow the cotton depletes soil quality and after, as a direct result, it ends up in our water systems, affecting animals and us, humans' lives.
Reusable cotton pads can be washed once they become dirty, while you generate no waste and saves you a bunch of money in the long run.
I've got mine from here:
7. Menstrual Cup
Oh Yes! The cup . . .
This was a huge change for me that I made almost 2 years ago. I still remember how freaked out I was because I didn't read the instructions properly and I thought the damn thing got stuck in me.
Read the instructions guys, don't be like me!
Tampons and pads all contain plastic, and generate more than 200,000 tonnes of waste per year. Ladies, we have to do something about this!
We all know that periods are not fun, you bleed once a month and you have to shove things up there so there's no blood on the floor. They are also not so good for the planet. Which is not entirely our fault, ladies. We have been made to believe that buying that might seem a necessity and also pollute our environment.
According to the Women’s Environmental Network, “Tampons, pads and panty liners generate more than 200,000 tonnes of waste per year, and they all contain plastic – in fact, pads are around 90 percent plastic – which ends up in landfill or, even worse, in seas and rivers.” Not only that, but non-organic sanitary products are made from cotton that's been sprayed with chemical pesticides, which in turn wreaks havoc on biodiversity and can give cotton workers potentially lethal pesticide poisoning.
I hope this is enough for you all to consider a different mindset when it comes to periods.
We are not perfect, I still sometimes use a disposable panty liner because let's be honest, menstrual cups aren't always the best and sometimes they can leak a little. It may time some time to find the best one for you and get used to inserting it and cleaning it, but like with everything else, you get used to it and it becomes part of your routine.
8. Homemade Flatbread
We quickly realised that some of our everyday favourites can literally be only found in plastic. I love wraps and tortillas/flatbreads because they're super versatile and can be used for so many things, so the lack of it didn't exactly make me happy.
I researched and tried a few recipes and this was my favourite so far.
Very easy and quick, no need to buy plastic wrapped tortillas/flatbread anymore:
2 cups / 300g plain flour (all purpose flour) (level cups, unsifted, not packed), + keep 1/4 cup extra for dusting & adjusting dough
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 tbsp / 50g butter (1.75 oz)
3/4 cup / 185 ml milk
1/2 tbsp oil (for cooking)
Combine butter and milk and heat until butter is just melted - on stove or in microwave.
Combine 2 cups flour, salt, butter and milk.
Sprinkle work surface with flour then knead for a few minutes until it is smooth - it doesn't need much kneading. Add extra flour if the dough is too sticky.
Wrap with cling wrap and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes or so. (I often leave this part out because too hungry)
Dust bench top with flour, cut dough into 4 pieces, roll into balls, then roll out into about 1/8" / 0.3cm thick rounds.
Heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a non stick pan over medium heat - or lower if you have a heavy based skillet
Place one flatbread in the pan, cook for around 1- 1 1/2 minutes - it should bubble up (see photo in post)- then flip and cook the other side, pressing down if it puffs up. There should be a smallish golden brown spots on both sides.
Stack the cooked bread and keep wrapped with a tea towel - the moisture helps soften the surface, making them even more pliable.
9. Metal lunchboxes
Who doesn't like a good meal prep?
We tend to get so busy during the week and have less time to cook healthy food so we thought that an investment in some good quality lunchboxes would be a good idea. We obviously didn't want to get plastic ones so we had to decide between metal and bamboo.
The metal boxes seemed a little more sturdy and safe so we got those from Ecozoi.
Get yours from here:
10. Saving water in the shower
A new practice that we started doing was saving water before showering.
I bet you all wait for at least 2 minutes for your shower to get nice and warm.
Do you ever think about where that water goes and how much are toy wasting that way?
By some estimates, 12,000 gallons of precious water a year per household is wasted while waiting for shower or tap water to warm up. Multiply this waste of water over a multi-person household and 12,000 gallons becomes more like 18,000 gallons or more of water that circles and disappears down the drain. Gallons of water run down our bathroom drains everyday while we wait for cool water to begin running warm. But there is something we can do to responsibly stop this waste of water with immediate and quantifiable results.
We started placing a bucket under the showered while we wait for it to get to the right temperature and then we use the collected water to water our plants around the house.
You don't only save money by running less water for your plants, but you're doing something amazing for the planet.
It takes minimal effort and we just keep the bucket in the shower after we are done.
Hope you all find this read encouraging to make little changes in your life for the good of our planet!