Play with Plastic Free July (First Published in West Sussex County Times)

Katie at Refills

Going plastic free for a whole 31 days does sound pretty daunting, some would argue impossible, but it’s a great opportunity to get a little creative, learn something new and hopefully pick up a couple of new habits you can stick to. It’s like diet and exercise, if you’re not enjoying it and it doesn’t fit in with your lifestyle you’re unlikely to carry on with it.

The first time I attempted the Plastic Free July challenge I made a few novice mistakes:

  1. No plan
  2. No support
  3. Aimed too big

It was mega stressful and caused a few heated debates in our house. The following year, as a compromise with my other half, I tackled it in a much more realistic way and it made life so much better. This is my advice if you’re thinking about having a go yourself:

  1. Spend 30 minutes doing a mini audit of your home. What items do you have in your fridge, freezer and cupboards in single use plastic?
  2. Pay more attention to your local shops. Where can you buy loose fruit and veg? What shops have a refill option? What lunch options come plastic free?
  3. Use this knowledge to make a realistic list of 10 things you could swap and stick to for a month.
  4. Go through the list with the people you live with and get them on board too.

Our list included things like refilling our ice cube trays instead of being lazy and buying plastic bags of ice. Making hummus and coleslaw from scratch and no pre-made. Only buying chocolate wrapped in paper or foil. Bringing tupperware to the fish counter and butchers instead of buying pre-packed.

Immediately the experience became more fun and I even found it was a good conversation starter in shops. I remember ordering some bread from a local baker and asking for them to put it in my reusable bag instead of a plastic one. Don’t get me wrong, some people couldn’t be less interested, but occasionally that one conversation could influence someone to think twice and make a small change themselves.

Don’t worry about starting late either, even if you only manage a couple of weeks it’s better than nothing. Maybe next time you’ll do longer with that extra bit of knowledge you’ve gained.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt since I started Sustainable Squad is that nobody’s perfect and you have to try a few different things and make a few mistakes before you get into your stride. The main thing is that we all try to waste less and buy better and by doing so we improve our wallets, our health and the planet.

by Katie Proctor of Sustainable Squad

Katie Proctor