Today is 1 July and this is my second Plastic Free July.
Last year I was riding on the initial wave of starting out with reducing my plastic consumption and directed my attention to avoiding plastic packaging in my weekly grocery shop. I refused fruit and vegetables in plastic which meant saying no to cherry tomatoes and often going without lettuce. For my dry goods, I sought out alternative packaging: cardboard, glass and metal. As with everything in life, this is a journey.
Flash forward to this year and when I look in my kitchen I’ve made even more changes. I buy products in the largest size available and decant into jars: 5kg bags of rice and 4L tins of olive oil. The latest swap is purchasing 2Lt tomato sauce bottles as the rate in which the 500ml squeezy bottles were ending up in our recycling bin was frightening - I have a 4yo that believes food is not food without sauce. And though I dream of making my own from the tomatoes at our local farmgate, Torello, that will have to wait for the future. One step at a time.
Speaking of steps, sometimes you go forward and sometimes you find yourself going backward. Yesterday, I decided to grab a coffee. In COVID-19 times a coffee out of the house has become a rare occurrence. I planned to sit in and ordered at the counter, then I spotted the towers of disposable cups lining the top of the coffee machine. I hesitated. I didn’t have a reusable cup in my bag. But I wanted to support their business, so whereas previously I would have decided to go without rather than accept a disposable cup, I stayed. Often when we're minimising our plastics there isn’t an easy answer, just the best decision we can make at that time.
This situation made me think about what has changed on my journey to waste-free during COVID-19. First up, after months of not heading out, I’ve stopped religiously carrying my reusable coffee cup and my water bottle. And to minimise my time out of the house I haven’t been to my local bulk store. To counteract this I’ve cut back on things like nuts and almond meal, but I’ve still ended up with extra soft plastics from purchasing more at the supermarket. And if I’m being honest there are a lot more chip packets in there too.
The positive in all of this is I have a clear direction for my Plastic Free July. Back into my reusables: coffee cup, water bottle, produce bags and bulk food jars. And reducing those soft plastics again by getting back to my local bulk food store. And eating fewer chips! Maybe I'll try cooking some.
Is this your first Plastic Free July? Here’s a couple of tips to get you started reducing plastic in your kitchen.
Take it easy on yourself. One change at a time is often all we can manage.
Check out the contents of your recycling and rubbish bins to see what types of plastic packaging you're throwing out regularly - once you know what you're dealing with you can start to make changes.
Look for foods in alternatives to plastic. Barilla Pasta comes in cardboard boxes, and they will soon be removing the plastic window due to customer demand. Many sauces come in glass jars.
Buy bread at the bakery and take your own bread bag, or request a paper bag if they're not accepting reusables. Unsliced bread will stay fresh longer.
Buy bulk: either at the bulk food store in your own containers, or at the supermarket and decant into your own jars at home.
Keep a list of the changes you make during Plastic Free July. When you feel overwhelmed, look back on your list and congratulate yourself, on what you've achieved. I still look back on my list from last year.
You can read more here about the safely of reusables during COVID-15.
And if you have any questions about Plastic Free July or reducing your household plastic I'd love to help.