Plastic Free July is an Australia based initiative to get people to spend one month auditing, changing and reducing their plastic. It has grown to a worldwide activity that has been praised by many to be the momentum we need to educate the public on plastic waste. Zoos, aquariums, and cities are challenging residents and visitors to forgo single use plastics. If you would like to take their survey and sign up head to this link: https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/
We are currently at the halfway mark and I have officially reached a plastic plateau. This is not my first year attempting to do Plastic Free July, and for those of you interested, no I have not actually reached plastic free. I have figured out that there are a few things that are just too necessary or designed in such a way that make using them unavoidable.
We all know category 1, the dreaded single use plastic. This is the category that cities, states, and even countries are trying to ban. These are things that are often thrust upon us without even asking, they are taken for granted, and they are most likely to end up in the environment. Lucky for you this is the easiest category to eliminate. Grab yourself a nice reusable cup, water bottle and utensil set and you are free from the burden of destroying the environment every time you eat out somewhere.
Category 2 is the section for lazy eaters. These people don’t like to meal prep, buy in bulk, and they also don’t like their food touching each other in the grocery basket. It took a significant amount of effort to convince my husband that you can just put your produce in the basket and its fine. If you are really worried about it just put it in a canvas bag and take it out when you checkout. Also if you aren’t buying bulk yogurt yet, who are you?
The third category kicks up the difficulty a bit. All of the plastic in this category is designed in such a way to trick you into spending more money for buying less food. Pre-packaged chips, crackers and cookies are great for on the go lunches but they usually cost more. These can be tricky because sometimes they aren’t labeled as pre-packaged and you may have just bought 100 of them from Costco. The pre-packaged fresh produce is just annoying. It tricks you into thinking that you have just saved yourself time by buying pre-cut mushrooms or zucchini noodles only to realize that its 2x the price for half the product. Just skip this aisle.
The last and final category is where I am residing. These are unavoidable products that come pre-packaged in plastic and there is no alternative offered. In our house we are addicted to frozen fruit and frozen vegetables. We love buying bulk frozen broccoli and blueberries. We go through about a 5 lb bag of blueberries a week. (we are not a family of bears if you are wondering) However, the alternative to this would be more expensive fresh fruits and veggies that don’t last as long. So far no company makes canvas or cardboard boxes of frozen veggies yet. Alas I am stuck in plastic wrapped frozen food purgatory.
This brings us to the huge elephant in the room:
The trash bag
The Plastic Free July website is a strong advocate of not using trash bags in your home. This may seem like a completely bizarre request. I have a few problems with this but I am attempting it nonetheless. One issue is that our trash pickup trucks are designed in such a way that the truck picks up the bin hoists it vertically in the air and flings the bin with enough force to dump the trash out into the TOP of the truck. I have included a very detailed and painstakingly drawn diagram of how the trash pickup looks. In order make sure that the bin is totally empty the operator will sometimes give it a tough yank causing any non-bagged trash to go flying in the air as the driver flings the bin back in forth in a windshield wiper motion.
Trash bags are actually not designed to be recycled and the city of Austin requests that you don’t bag your recycling for that purpose. When it comes to landfill trash they tend to make a mess of an already messy situation. They aren’t biodegradable so they they take up landfill space, they also can slow down the natural process of decomposition. Another issue is that many landfills grind up their trash, making tiny slivers of plastic bags that can then blow away in the wind.
I am not sure if anyone is ready to stop using plastic bags in their landfill trash just yet. There are some great biodegrade alternatives but they are pricey. The Plastic Free July website suggests using newspaper to line your trash bin and then wrapping any messy trash in newspaper. But like I don’t get a newspaper so where do I get that from?
If you are interested in trying the challenge I suggest you start by filling out the survey. If you want more info on plastic free life checkout this website by Beth Terry called “My plastic free life” she is way better at this than I am : https://myplasticfreelife.com/