This post coincides with Plastic Free July – a month-long challenge to reduce the use of single-use plastic with the hope that people will continue their learned habits indefinitely. I have decided to document our journey so that others can learn from it or can share their ideas for reducing their use of single-use plastic.
I thought I would use this post to detail what habits we have already used to reduce plastic in our lives.
Over ten years ago I was working in a supermarket when they brought in green bags and I quickly put my hand up to man one of the check-outs used temporarily to teach people about reducing their plastic bag use. It was amazing seeing how many plastic bags were used every day. I even had one customer who wanted a small bag of chips in a plastic bag! They were so thin that they usually couldn’t be used many more times anyway and some customers would ask for everything to be double-bagged. Since green bags came in, I have been really good with taking one with me rather than using plastic bags when grocery shopping.
It’s not always easy to remember to take a reusable bag when I end up making an unexpected purchase. My Mum gave me a lightweight cloth bag several years ago that can be easily folded up and stored in my handbag. This bag has saved me on several occasions.
Something I purchased during last year’s Plastic Free July was a set of mesh vegetable bags to use instead of plastic bags when buying fruit and vegetables. We ended up buying another set and use these frequently whenever we go to the market or grocery store. They can easily be washed, you can wash and drain vegetables whilst in the bag, and you can also use them to dry items. For example, we recently hung one up in a warm dry place to dry chillis.
Reusable coffee cup
Quite a number of years ago I was buying cups of coffee most days in the city. I felt the guilt of throwing so many coffee cups away (most of them are not even recyclable or compostable) and so I bought a KeepCup. At first I felt awkward asking cafés to supply coffee in my KeepCup but the baristas soon became used to it. The other option is to dine in and have the coffee served in a cup and saucer or mug – a good form of forced relaxation. Although, I have been caught out a few times when the café sadly used takeaway coffee cups for people dining in as well!
Taking lunch to work
Most days we take our lunches and snacks to work in reusable containers. More effort is required to do this compared with buying food already conveniently individually wrapped from a supermarket. However, it really is a waste of packaging and it also costs a great deal more.
Buying in bulk
This is difficult to do for someone who doesn’t have much storage room in their house, but thankfully we do. We have been buying items like rice and flour in bulk so that we reduce the amount of packaging. It is cheaper too.
These are some of the main habits that we have formed over the years. We have many more bad habits that can be improved upon, which I will be documenting in later posts. The main thing is to accept that it is difficult to cut out single-use plastic completely. Any improvement is a good thing and I will be reminding myself of that every time I beat myself up for lapsing!