Plastic Free July has been hard. I thought it would be a cinch, but in practice, it wasn't easy. I had to get really good at saying no. No to the cosmetic samples. No to the request for a bottle of water. No to the Kinder Surprise. No to the junk.
At every turn my best intentions were thwarted. There was the 5th birthday party. Mercifully, the goodie bag wasn't littered with $2 shop junk, instead it had a few lollies which were much easier to slip to my husband when our daughter fell asleep, but we did find the balloons, so after a few days the car was full of them.
Then there was my biggest obstacle, my husband. I swear I told him that on the occasions when he needs to use the plastic wrap, to use the green one which can be composted in our home compost. I kept opening the lunchbox to find a little scrunched up piece of plastic wrap. Thankfully school holidays started, so the bad habit ceased.
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Until supermarkets, in particular, find alternative ways to package meat, wrap up halves of cauliflower and the plastic bottles that heavily dominate every single aisle, we have to stay alert to new ways we can negate the plastic that slips into the house unbidden.
I've found the best way to start the journey of less plastic and waste is to focus on one room at a time, the easiest to start with being bathrooms and kitchens. Showers can easily have a dozen or more plastic bottles in there. A plastic bottle may say it's made with recycled plastic but it's better to stop buying plastic, given that despite all the self-congratulations, approximately only 9 per cent of plastic ever produced has been recycled. As for bottle pumps and caps, these cannot be recycled.
We can all make easy swaps in the bathroom; bars of soap packaged in cardboard instead of body wash, shampoo and conditioner bars instead of bottles, solid deodorant and body lotion bars instead of pump bottles. Say no to testers and samples. Bamboo toilet paper and eco-friendly dental floss are easy swaps. Would someone please invent a bamboo electric toothbrush head? The clean really is so much better. Stop using cotton pads and balls, instead splash toner onto your face with clean hands, or seek out washable cotton offcuts to use instead of the aforementioned balls and pads.
And while we are talking pads, ladies, if you haven't discovered menstrual cups yet, then you need to ditch the waste and monthly purchases and get yourself a menstrual cup. It will change your life, save you thousands of dollars and thousands of menstrual products.
In the kitchen go for beeswax wrap or the new compostable wrap, bamboo "paper" towels and dishwasher tablets packaged in cardboard instead of plastic. Frequent bulk stores and reuse glass jars as storage. Additionally, look into a composting unit for your waste that will suit your space and lifestyle.
It's frustrating when it feels like food manufacturers and others aren't trying as hard as you are but remember the power you hold as a consumer. Vote with your wallet, do your best and get others on board. Soon these new habits become second nature and it really does do the world some good.