Plastic-Free July: An entire month without Cobs lightly salted & slightly sweet popcorn.

Plastic-Free July is a global movement where for the entire month, participants refuse single use plastic and reduce their use as much as possible.

Every year July has come and gone, and while I usually take the opportunity to make some improvements, I have never committed entirely.

This year I was inspired, by my own complacency and ignorance, to give it a red-hot crack.

Ms Rona has dialled back a bit of progress made in the plastic-free movement. For a few months, keep-cups were deemed useless and more single-use plastic was being used by as a defence against the spread (at least that’s what I seemed to have noticed from the hospitality industry).

This sudden culture change seeped into me more than I cared to notice. Until there I was, standing in a supermarket, buying end-of-the-day-specials cut pineapple; complacent. Walking out I looked down at my afternoon snack, seeing that it was neatly placed on a tray of Styrofoam, wrapped over twice in glad wrap. I was horrified.

Only a year ago, I was in Bali with a friend, picking up tiny balls of Styrofoam off the sandy beaches of Uluwatu, quietly judging everyone else for not knowing any better. And then there I was, in the fruit aisle, eating my words.

I needed to get that energy back; the energy that would fill my pockets full of rubbish every time I went for a run, refusing plastic even it meant going without a coffee. So, July has come and gone, and I now feel how I imagine a Bryon-Bay yoga-teacher with a closet full of beige linen does, constantly.

The most noticeable changes I made:

  • Making my own nut milk
  • Purchasing dry food from bulk stores
  • Investing in re-usable equipment
  • Meal prepping (continuously)

downfalls:

  • Toothpaste. I’m sorry, I haven’t gotten the hang toothpaste powder yet.
  • One deceiving pasta box containing plastic inside.
  • Fruit stickers; I don’t really know how to get around that one.
  • Panadol; again, I don’t know of an alternative option.

Overall, I did pretty well. The thing about living zero-waste is that it was quite easy to obtain the things I needed, but not so much the things I wanted. I endured an entire month without cobs lightly salted &slightly sweet popcorn, salt n’ vinegar vege chips and vegan magnums. Instead I filled up on oats, potatoes and curries, and snacked on apples and granola. With no room to buy anything pre-packaged, meal prepping is an essential habit for zero-waste living.

The processes involved in Plastic-free living can definitely feel like more effort, especially on the mornings I needed just a dash of milk but had none, but that’s not to say it’s such a bad thing. Making everything from scratch brought stronger feelings of gratitude for the things I consumed, and I naturally ate healthier from the lack of processed and packaged snacks. And it goes without saying that gazing upon a pantry lined with filled mason jars, brings an intense satisfaction.

I will be candid about one thing; at times it felt awful expensive to live zero waste. And if I wasn’t in the midst of my university break, would I have performed as well with less time on my hands? As new habits solidify into routine, maybe the time factor will become unnoticeable, and perhaps budget-friendly meal prepping will offset the hefty prices for some zero-waste items. Moving forward and moving back into a more recognisable lifestyle, with the added plastic-free habits incorporated, I’ll have to monitor how much it all costs on the time and money scales.

After July, I feel a of weight lifted off me; the complacency around my plastic use, gone. I’m ready to carry on and thrive in my newly adopted habits, and I could probably go with eating a few less vegan magnums in the future.

Resources:

Kakula’s sisters, Fremantle– bulk foods (oats, rice, beans, lentils, granola) and zero-waste products such as metal straws, silicone freezer bags, milk bags and cleaning products

The Storehouse, Fremantle- dish washing liquid, laundry detergent.

South Fremantle IGA- the only place I’ve found to buy frozen blueberries un-packaged

Kappi- zero-waste safety razor

Lush- shampoo and conditioner bars

Zero Store (Raw Kitchen)- face moisturizer, toothpaste powder

Manna Wholefoods- Deodorant, liquid hair conditioner, beauty products.

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