I haven't attempted Plastic Free July before because my philosophy, similarly to meat-free Monday, it is not something only to be attempted occasionally. Rather, I think we should all be thinking about reducing plastic, and eating more plants, everyday. But I decided to 'join' the challenge as increased awareness could surely only create more opportunities for improvement.
Apparently the best time to start Plastic Free July is in June. So you can plan and assess what you were going to struggle with and seek out alternatives to help you have a plastic free month.
So I dove into researching the things I know we already struggle with finding plastic free alternatives, oats and pasta. I ended up doing the exact same research that I did the last time I tried to make these items plastic free; looked for plastic free packaged versions at the supermarket and loose bulk buy options only to re-discover the difference in price is eye-watering, especially as oats and pasta are staple foods in our house.
This brings up two questions for me -
How much am I willing to pay to save the planet?
Am I willing to pay $8 for oats in a paper bag over $2 for oats in a plastic bag? Plus the additional travel going to the bulk food shop.
What is my 'fair' share of the planet saving load?
There are people don't even actively try and obviously there are people don't have the opportunity (though privilege isn't something I want to get into). My 'fair' share assessment focusses purely on the people who could and choose not to, over the people without a choice.
Things we (Mr SW and I) already do to reduce plastic as part of our 'fair' share:
- shop at the local weekly farmers' market
- limit takeaways
- always recycle including the unavoidable soft plastic
- carry reusable cutlery
- use reusable coffee cups or just eat and drink in
- stopped buying certain items like plastic wrapped lettuce
- look for less plastic options where they exist
- take bags or 'buy & balance'
We are certainly not perfect or anywhere near perfect.
But back to Plastic Free July, I thought about stocking up the items I know use plastic in June and then I'd be able to make July 'plastic free' BUT that's probably cheating.
Instead, rather than commit to going entirely plastic free and judge myself the first time I buy something with plastic, I'm going to repeat my research but this time I'm going to document it. Maybe I'll save myself doing this again in 3, 6 or 12 months or maybe save someone else the hassle of working out the cost of oats per gram at the supermarkets, the bulk food stores and the knowledge that even when it comes in a box it often has a plastic bag inside!
Maybe I should call it Plastic Aware July.