How I feel about plastic free July – and it isn’t preachy  

Last year, Plastic Free July really inspired me. I took on the challenge to try to make some positive, life-long changes around our plastic use as a family, and me personally with regard cosmetics.

The month is about refusing single-use plastic during July. You can join the challenge and read more here. But for me, it’s more than that. It’s a reminder to try a bit harder at every point that plastic enters our lives.

Refusing single use plastic is already part of our regime, although we’re not always successful! I’m definitely of the mindset that we should refuse before we recycle. Recycling is not enough. We need to cut the consumption.

The effort we made last year paid off, with lasting changes. I am particularly proud of my bathroom cabinet’s dwindling plastic, as you can read about in this blog.

But, I look at the mountain of plastic we create each week – I know our molehill pales in comparison to some mountains – and it still feels like a poor effort.

Not inspired…

2018 Plastic Free July is just making me feel like I’ve hit a wall. I like to make lasting change – not just for a month – and it just feels like there aren’t any I can make this time round, not without making me a little doolally.

I have a lot of respect for the people boasting about their accomplishments on Plastic Free July blogs, posts and tips on social media – I’m sure I have been that person, maybe I’m even being that person – but this month it’s more discouraging than encouraging.

I have a toddler, a teenager, a demanding sausage dog, two chickens (yup – they’re new acquisitions and WE LOVE THEM!!), and a hubby that travels a lot. I work 20 hours, and freelance write and provide PR consultation for an additional 10-20 hours a week, so my day fills up fast.

Soaking oats for milk (we actually buy an organic milk in a carton but the almond milk is tetrapak), making my own washing powder (I bought all the ingredients once and never got to it), or my own pasta are all just too hard. Our free range chicken is plastic fantastic, wrapped in clingwrap in a plastic tray (recyclable yes) with two moisture absorbent pillows! I’m not going to kill Mango and Butter, our chickens, to avoid the supermarket plastic. I still get plastic from the take away because although they will re-use containers – we’ve asked – the whole point of take-aways is that I can dash in and out, without having to take the toddler out.

(A quick note about the above – not wanting to use plastic containers has actually made us dine in more often, which has been great in forcing us to stop and spend time together).

If I can’t make any more changes this month, I propose the following…

I’d like to propose that Plastic Free July is not only about eliminating single use or even recyclable plastic from your life, but about lobbying to get businesses to do it for you. They’ll have more time than I do, I’m pretty sure!!!

Not only that, but use the month to investigate who your local sustainability groups are that will do that for you. I am a member of Sustainable Queenstown that have pioneered sustainable efforts locally from stopping single use shopping bags, getting soft plastic recycling stations, and launching an initiative to re-use stainless steel plates at local events, instead of paper plates that still end up on landfill.

If you don’t know who your local group is – find out, see if you can volunteer, support, lend a hand or just pass on the message through social media.

Or don’t. Sometimes it’s just not the right time or place, and if you want to make your Plastic Free July any other month, or wait until next year, that’s also fine.

PS – that isn’t me in the picture. It’s a brand image from Plastic Free July.

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