What I learnt during #plasticfreejuly

What I learnt during #plasticfreejuly

9th August 2018

About 8 million tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean annually, some of which is being found even in the most remote parts of the sea. Sadly, many ocean dwellers can’t distinguish between plastic and food. This means they often starve as they can’t digest the plastic filling their stomachs, preventing them from eating real food. This is the case for many birds too, with plastic being found in the stomachs of 90% of seabirds.

For me, the #plasticfreejuly challenge came along at the perfect time. I had already somewhat reduced my waste but also needed something to motivate me to consider what else I can do, and how to go about it. In this post I write about what I learnt, what I found easy, and what wasn’t so easy!

What I did during July to reduce my plastic consumption

I took my water bottle, food container, a fork and canvas bag with me eveeerywhere!
This was something that I was already pretty good at but would occasionally get caught out, so I just made sure I had these items packed in my bag always. They’re not heavy (okay, the food container is a bit bulky) but each of these items items I use over and over again.

I’m still getting used to asking food stall traders to put my food in my own container and to fill up my water bottle (it makes me feel super awkward!) but people are generally very nice about it and more curious than judgemental. It’s also a great way to get a dialogue going about reducing waste, so it’s all good 🙂

My newly beloved Muhle Razor 

I only bought unpackaged fruits and vegetables and started bulk food shopping
Shopping for unpackaged fruits and veggies in a supermarket is HARD if you want any kind of variety. Fortunately, I have Oddbox who deliver wonky and surplus fruit and veg (which the supermarkets won’t take) operating in my area so was able to get lots of amaaazing produce once a week. Food stalls and farmers markets are also really good places to pick up unpackaged produce.

I also did my first ever bulk food shop in Hetu, a vegan low waste shop in Clapham. Here I was able to reuse jars from home to fill up on items like chickpeas, nuts, rice, cacao, oats, spices etc. I know many people don’t have access to somewhere like this (we really need more of them) and admittedly even though I live in London, it took me about an hour to get to this one on public transport!

I started making my own almond milk, hummus and bliss balls
Instead of buying already made products like almond milk, hummus, granola, snack bars and bliss balls, I made my own. It may seem like a chore but all of these things are actually very simple and quick to make (I’ll post recipes soon, I promise!)

I’ve also saved SO much money. Previously I would spend around £12 a month on almond milk alone (I like the Rude Health one, and nothing else will do!) however for £3.14 I was able to buy 196g of packaging free, organic almonds which is enough to make 4 weeks worth of homemade almond milk. I’ve also been using the leftover almond meal as ingredients for snacks.

I didn’t buy anything that wasn’t necessary
I also try to live a minimalist lifestyle so generally I don’t buy anything / bring anything new into my life unless I really have to. Most things we buy come in some kind of packaging, even clothes have a tag on them with that small piece of plastic, attaching it to the label.

During this month the only items I bought were my nut milk bag which came in a paper envelope and my stainless steel razor which came in a cardboard box.

I ditched the plastic razor
This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while but took a little time to get around to, as it seemed like such an investment. I ended up buying a Muhle Safety Razor which is so worth it, it gives an amazing close shave and I’ve only nicked myself once so far!

Buy switching to a stainless steel razor you’ll save a lot of plastic over your lifetime, and money too, as you only need to replace the actual blade part.

My biggest lessons from #plasticfreejuly

It’s really not about being perfect and never using a single piece of plastic ever again
During this challenged I ‘failed’ a few times (I bought a couple of food items in packing, bought apples with stickers on them and used a medical gown at an osteopath session, which came in a big plastic bag ) but really, the amount of plastic waste I’ve avoided since the beginning of July far outweighs this. If we all made small, everyday changes, we really would have a huge impact on turning plastic pollution around 🙂

I also think the idea of a ‘zero waste’ lifestyle can be quite off-putting as it seems so unachievable. This is why I much prefer the term ‘low impact’ – this is my aim!

A little bit of planning goes a long way
By investing a bit of time to research where you can buy packaging free foods, plan out your meals and prep your water bottle, fork, reusable bags etc to take out with you, you can really save so much plastic waste.

It’s not just about plastic
This challenge made me also consider other areas of waste such as food and paper/cardboard. For me it all ties in together and I try to consider how I can use “The Five R’s” to reduce my impact over all. They are: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot.

Keep learning and growing
The more we learn and equip ourselves with the knowledge that we need to reduce our impact on the planet, the more we can share and inspire other people to do the same.

Something that I did not know is that most recyclable plastic can only be recycled once, usually into a fabric. So all that ‘recyclable’ plastic packaging we put in the recycling bin most likely won’t come back as another bottle or container. I only found this out about 6 weeks ago – is this common knowledge to other people?

I strongly feel that as a yogini and a vegan, living a low impact lifestyle is just another way to help look out for the planet and the animals we share it with. I’m aware that this is already a HUGE post so I’ll stop here, but I’ve got plenty more to share with you, in future posts 🙂

Did you give #plasticfreejuly a shot? How did you find it? Or are you intrigued to give a low impact lifestyle a go?  I’d love to know what you think so please do comment below with your experiences, tips and questions 🙂

Showing 6 comments
  • Simone
    Reply

    Hi,
    I wish I had known about #plasticfreejuly…such a great initiative! If you want to make another month plastic free, pls me know and I will join you. I see many ways where I can improve my way of living in these terms
    BR Simone

    • Lucy
      Reply

      Hi Simone,

      That’s so great that you want to give it a go! I am doing my best to continue in this way but will definitely do another month free – why wait until next July hey? I’ll let you know 🙂 always nice to try these things with other people and have a bit of moral support!

      Lucy xo

  • Carly
    Reply

    Great read Lucy, I’m trying week by week to reduce waste and plastic usage. It is hard like you say, but each small step makes such a big difference. I make my own granola bars too but never tried my own nut milk, will await the recipe 😊

    • Lucy
      Reply

      Aah thank you Carly 😊 thats wonderful, week by week is such a great way to takle it. Hehe, I thought making my own ‘mylk’ would be a hassle but it only takes 5 minutes, including the washing up 😁 Lucy xo

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