As Plastic Free July 2017 draws to a close, it’s time to assess how it went in the Spot of Earth household. I felt like there were some big improvements on our 2016 challenge. There was definitely a reduction in our plastic consumption compared to last year. This was partly because our middle child didn’t have a birthday party this year, which cut down on a huge amount of waste. But also, our shopping habits have also continued to evolve as the year has gone by. We eat less meat and we’re more careful about some of our other choices in terms of packaging.
This is our plastic consumption from Plastic Free July 2017 Week Four, plus the last three days of the month. The black plastic was from an online order. The takeaway cups were some that my husband brought home that had been littered. Though he didn’t tell me that until after I’d named and shamed him on the Facebook page! I assumed he’d used them in place of his reusable cup. He’s now forgiven, of course. 😉
In that picture you can also see some packaging from a magazine our youngest bought. At the start of the summer holidays, the children get to choose a magazine. Despite my best efforts to look at others, he was determined to buy the one in a plastic/foil bag with a load of plastic tat! C’est la vie!
Other notable items are noodle wrappers and a biscuit wrapper. I have searched our local Asian supermarket and the big one in Chinatown in Newcastle and cannot find the noodles that our children like in less packaging. Until they decide they prefer the egg noodles that come in bulk packaging, I’ll have to admit defeat on the single-wrapped portions with the little sachet of seasoning which we never use.
We do a lot of home-baking in our house to cut down on snack packaging. However, the sheer volume of food that three children can consume in the holidays is mind-blowing. No sooner have I finished one meal than they’re hungry again. I’m sure you’ll all forgive me for the big bag of factory second biscuits that we bought.
There are a few bits that didn’t make it to the picture. I just used up a bag of toasted wheatflakes to make some muesli and there will no doubt be a couple more pieces from the rest of today. There’s also a large bag that contained hay for our rabbit. This goes back to the seller to refill though.
And to compare, here’s our picture from the end of Plastic Free July 2016:
I’m pleased with the improvement. As planned, we made our own pasta on Saturday to save the packaging from a bag of linguine. There’s really no comparison in taste, but it is a bit more time-consuming than simply opening a bag of shop bought! Maybe we’ll make the effort every now and again.
I didn’t get round to making my own dishwasher tablets, but I did find citric acid in a cardboard box in Wilkinson’s. I think I now have all the ingredients for when I’m ready to give that a go. There are quite a few recipes out there, but I think I’ll have a go at Bea Johnson’s recipe in Zero Waste Home first.
So, that’s Plastic Free July for another year. There are several benefits to participating in Plastic Free July:
- Attempting to shop without consuming plastic brings into stark reality just how much our food is shrouded in the stuff.
- Collecting your plastic packaging for a week/month is a better visual reminder of how much you consume.
- Disposing of the plastic at the end of that time period makes you realise how much is going to landfill/recycling.
- Knowing that you are part of a huge group of people worldwide helps you feel supported during the challenge.
- Telling other people about it (family, friends, shopkeepers and retail staff, bar and waiting staff) spreads awareness of the problem of plastic pollution.
- And of course Plastic Free July needn’t stop there. You can carry on making changes to your lifestyle and consumer habits after the challenge is over.
How did your Plastic Free July go? What were your high points and low points? Let me know in the comments or on my Facebook page.