When I first signed up for this challenge I will admit I quickly became overwhelmed...plastic seems to be in EVERYTHING! I realized that you cannot just snap your fingers and be completely plastic free and while the challenge is an excellent idea, it takes time to completely rid plastic in your life. It took some research, creativity, and alternative thinking to navigate through this challenge. I decided to create a Pinterest board to save the amazing resources and blogs I came across. Here are some of the changes I was able to incorporate into my life this month to move towards being plastic free.
To-Go Cup: I do love my London Fogs. I decided to have a rule this year that I was not allowed to buy one unless I had my to-go cup with me. Funny how easily you can always have one in your car when you make this a personal rule :). I was also able to find a clear glass to-go cup this month to enjoy my iced chai lattes in.
Water Bottle: Carrying around a water bottle is another habit I have already successfully incorporated. I find that I drink way more water throughout the day, feel more hydrated and healthy, and get less headaches. I got this bottle from our Hot Yoga studio and it keeps my water cold all throughout the day no matter the temperature!
Bamboo Brush & Comb: One thing I learned during this challenge was not to necessarily throw out all of the plastic I already use but to watch what you buy when you do buy new. I decided to buy a bamboo hairbrush and comb this month. My plastic ones are still in good condition but I figured they could be moved to my work bag. I couldn't believe the difference the bamboo brush has made. With my long hair I am constantly needing a brush and I feel that this one leaves my hair smoother.
Glass containers: It is going to take me awhile to transfer over completely to glass containers but I have started making the switch. I was surprised at how much longer my food seems to last in glass and how much easier it was to see what was in the fridge. Glass also holds up way better in the dishwasher, top or bottom rack!
Compostable Toothbrush: This was an easy change to make because a compostable toothbrush costs exactly the same as a regular toothbrush!
Natural Toothpaste: I found this Nelson Naturals toothpaste in a glass jar and decided to give it a try this month. I had tried a few natural toothpastes before and couldn't get past the taste. This one did taste a bit weird at first but I got used to it throughout the month. I felt that I had less morning breath in the morning, too.
Reuseable Bags: This was another change I have been working on, but I took it a step further this month by carrying these small bags folded up in my purse. It has gotten easier to remember to take my bags to the grocery store, but I don't really enjoy carrying them throughout a store. Having these two folded up bags discreetly stored in my purse worked great.
Condiments in Glass: I was quite overwhelmed at how many condiments we buy in plastic. Being quite into cooking I find that I need a lot of condiments with my different recipes. It was quite the hunt to find mayonnaise in a glass container but I did it! At first I was dismayed at the small size of condiments I could get in glass but then I realized how often my larger plastic condiments were expiring before I could use them all. Honey, in particular, seems to stay runny and smooth longer in glass, too.
Canning: While I have gotten more into canning over the last few years I made more of a point this month to find some time to make my own jams.
Other successes I had this month included zero-waste wrapping and birthday gifts.
I also found out that I could get cheese from our local butcher wrapped in butcher paper. My friend and I hand grated some of it for homemade pizza and it was oh so good! I am hoping to make this more of a habit, too. Lots of these plastic-free ways just seem to take some organization.
Challenges to being plastic-free included:
Freezer bags - I like to freeze our own fruit so that I don't have to go buying frozen packaged fruit from the grocery store for smoothies. Plastic takes up less room and seems to provide a good seal to keep our fruit fresh.
Chips - I LOVE CHIPS! And my husband does as well. We don't always have chips in our house, but I do make my own salsa and can it so we like to have chips and salsa often. I was able to find corn tortilla chips in a paper bag that I think I will try to buy more often but I haven't been able to replace my ultimate favourite, Miss Vickies salt n' vinegar.
Toilet Paper - I searched to find toilet paper wrapped individually in paper (I thought I've seen them somewhere) but could only find them wrapped in plastic. This is one thing that is often necessary to buy in bulk.
I look forward to continuing the changes I have made to my life and being even more prepared next year for Plastic Free July! While I don't intend to go back to buying all of the plastic I used to because the challenge is over, I liked having the month to put an extra focus on it. I am hoping to have some more time this month once my Masters courses are finished to organize and make some more storage items myself. All in all this has been an eye-opening experience to the realities of plastic and how much waste we really do produce.