July is on its way and unless you have been living in a bubble-wrapped bubble then you would have heard about Plastic Free July.
It was created by a passionate group of people in West OZ to make us aware of how much plastic we consume and sets a challenge to reduce our own personal consumption of plastic – particularly singe use plastic.
The challenge is to not
- throw out
ANY single use plastic.
Going 100% plastic free is pretty hard core in this day and age, but if you are like me and care about our waste but also love a good challenge too, then this July why not give it a go?
Preparing early will give you a fighting chance to be pretty successful so here is my top 10 simple prep ideas for the lead up.
1. Source the best Chocolate
PLJ doesn’t mean no chocolate… It means fancy chocolate! Look out for the chocolate and sweets in cardboard. There are a few to choose from but no need to look past the Lindt Excellence range in my opinion!
2. Find an understanding and supportive Butcher
Everyone knows that butchers love a chat, so why not have a conversation with them about you grabbing your meat for July in your own containers or just in the paper bag? When you get home it is a simple case of transferring it for storage.
3. Choosing the right veggies for the month
PFJ does sometimes mean missing out on your favourite ingredient. I LOVE coriander but do you think I can find it not in plastic? I tried to grow it at home but that was an epic fail.
When grocery shopping grab the loose apples and tomatoes or a whole cabbage, not the half so conveniently wrapped for you. Also find the mushroom bags for loose leaf stuff, chillies, spouts etc.
Woolworth’s is a shocker for pre-wrapped fresh veg [#plasticfreeproduce] so try shopping at the local markets or find a more plastic-less supermarket for your challenge.
4. Getting snazzy in the kitchen
PFJ is a good excuse to try some new things. Most pre-made and processed foods come plastic wrapped but they are pretty easy to make yourself out of fresh ingredients. In my home I make fresh wraps twice a week that are simple, tasty and healthy to boot.
Some plastic free ideas for food are: Sauces & chutneys, bread, pastry from butter and flour for pies, sausage rolls and treats, roast veggies for dips and spreads etc.
5. Finding the essential essentials like milk & bread
If you really want to do this Plastic Free July right, unfortunately the carton ‘cardboard’ tetra packs just don’t cut it I am afraid.
All tetra packs are double, triple and probably quadrupoly sandwiched with plastic between the paper and aluminium layers and that doesn’t include the super unnecessary plastic pourer.
Grabbing the carton without the pourer or finding full cream farm fresh milk in a in glass Jar should reduce your count. Alternatively, a big bag of powdered milk would certainly reduce your plastic for the month if you were that way inclined – good luck!
Bread, well that is easy. Grab your bread from the local bakery or some flour from the shop and start baking. Check out my easy PF wraps recipe I make twice a week. YUMMY!
6. Be ready with your knife and fork
Find an old cutely set or collect the next plastic set and chuck them in your bag or car. Add a metal, paper or glass straw and even an old Chinese food container that you have stacked up in your Tupperware cupboard somewhere. This should be enough for you to manage food on the run and be ready for anything.
7. Fast food frenzy
If you need a fast food fix or forgot to pre pack your lunch there are a few fast food options I know of that are fit for a tradie or a suit.
If you are prepared to eat with your hands or are ready with cutlery, you can enjoy plastic free fast food like:
- Sushi served on/in a paper bag (you may need a few extra minutes to explain that this is exactly how you want it)
- Fish and chips,
- Pies & pasties,
- Bar made sambos etc.
But remember to ask for no bag or cutlery AS you order, not after as it is often too late.
8. Cleaning and preening products
Vinegar used to come in a glass bottle, but sadly the last one I tried to buy at a big shop was a plastic imitation glass bottle so that is now out! Bi-Carb soda comes in a box and hot water comes free from your tap!
Have you heard of Soap nuts? They are the bomb!
A big bag is about $40 and can be used to wash the clothes (add essential oils for fragrance), put in the dishwasher (on super-hot) and also can be used for cleaning the dishes (boil to make suds).
For personal hygiene there are plenty of plastic less products on the shelves. Just look for glass containers – even if the lid is plastic at least you have reduced a bit.
Bamboo or wooden toothbrushes are easy to find online or in health food shops and it’s a good idea to invest in a good razor with refills instead of the cheap and nasty bulk pack of throw-aways that rust after one shave anyway.
Lush cosmetics make a ‘naked’ range of soaps, shampoos and conditioners. I LOVE the shampoo and I use a regular bar soap. Haven’t found a good conditioner for my thick hair yet but will do within the next few days I hope!
9. Bulk food stores or buy in bulk
There are a few (but not enough) whole food shopping options around in some big and small towns. Grab your own containers and shop there for July.
This should not only save on plastic, but in the long run it saves dollars too as there is less wastage when you buy just what you need.Buying in bulk can also reduce your plastic consumption. Instead of buying lots of little packets of stuff, buy a big one and distill as you need.
10. Admit your weakness and cheat
Remember back in primary school when we used to shrink chip packets? I will definitely consider this as my addiction to crunchy salty plastic packaged crisps is just insatiable!
If I make my chip packets smaller I might just be able to fit a few more into my dilemma jar!
Now remember that Plastic Free July is a personal journey. It is about changing habits and being aware of how much we all rely on single use plastic.
It’s a great challenge for the whole family and a chance to learn new skills and improve your health too.
If you want to support the campaign go to Plastic Free July website for more info.
Do you have some other helpful preparation ideas for a plastic free month?