TRY: Plastic Free July
I first heard about Plastic Free July on The Slow Home Podcast with Brooke McAlary earlier in the year, and the idea of going plastic free for a month was really inspiring to me. The Plastic Free July Foundation was founded in Perth, Australia in 2011 as an office initiative to use less plastic, and has now inspired action around the world. Plastic Free July is not about going totally plastic free, it is about being conscious of your plastic use habits and challenging yourself to change those habits. One of the options is to go totally plastic free and zero-waste, but if that is too much of a challenge for you (which unless you live a near zero-waste lifestyle already it probably would be), there are other challenges that will set you up for success. One of these challenges is to #choosetorefuse the Big 4 plastic items: single-use plastic bags, to-go cups, straws, and plastic bottles.
This month I will be participating in Plastic Free July by trying my hardest to refuse the Big 4. I will also be tracking my trash by keeping all the things I would normally toss in the garbage in a jar on the counter instead. I decided to start small for my first Plastic Free July because I know that I will be more likely to be successful if I take on this challenge with reasonable goals. Since I started using beeswax wrap and reusable produce bags about four months ago, a lot of my habits around plastic have already changed. But of course I am not perfect and I need to be realistic about what I can commit to. I am not going totally zero-waste or plastic free, I am doing what I know I will be able to complete and am going to be gentle with myself if I make mistakes along the way.
I live in a fairly sustainably minded city with pretty good compost and recycling systems, and am lucky that this past July 1, 2018, the city of Victoria passed a new bylaw banning plastic shopping bags and requiring businesses to charge a minimum of 15 cents per paper bag at the checkout. This is HUGE and a major help on my own journey to plastic-free. However I would like to note that things like plastic produce bags are still in use, straws are still served with drinks, and I can count a minimum of 10 Starbucks to-go cups in about 10 seconds when I am walking around downtown. We still have a long way to go, and I live in one of the most sustainably minded cities in Canada.
This Plastic Free July I will be using my reusable to-go mug, my reusable produce bags, my tote bag, and my beeswax wrap for my plastic-free kit. I made my own reusable produce bags or beeswax wrap earlier this year and they are well-suited projects for the theme of this month. You can also choose to support your local zero-waste store and purchase some there.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED WITH PLASTIC FREE JULY
- Write a list of goals for your Plastic Free July and hang it in your bedroom, in your kitchen, or fold it up and keep in in your wallet. Having a solid plan will make it easier for you to commit to the challenge and will help to remind you of your goals when things get difficult. When deciding on your goals, keep things in perspective. Don't try to eat the whole cake in one sitting. Start with reasonable goals that you think you will be able to succeed at like committing to the Big 4 challenge!
- Sign up on the Plastic Free July website and #choosetorefuse for the rest of the month. There is no cost associated, this is a personal experiment to see how much you can change your habits around plastic.
- DO THE WORK. Try to follow through with your goals as much as possible. What is really important though is that if you accidentally order a drink for here and they give it to you to-go, or if you order a drink and forget to ask for no straw, don't be hard on yourself and quit. Nothing will ever be perfect. Be gentle with yourself, and excited about the new habits you are building! A little bit of change is still better than nothing at all.
- Share your journey and encourage others to join in the fun!
#choosetorefuse and have a fantastic Plastic Free July!