Friday, July 31, 2015

Plastic Free July, almost gone...

There are only a few hours left of July 2015 and I'm looking at my wee 'dilemma bag' and comparing it to the photo of this time last year.... So have I done any better? Well, yes and no! The amount of stuff looks much the same, but there are differences.

Last year the plastic windows in envelopes never even occurred to me as I wasn't tearing them out (which apparently improves the paper recycling process). I seem to get a ridiculous number of letters from WINZ etc and until my health improves to the point where I no longer need their financial assistance there isn't really a way around those.

I got a different flea treatment for the cat - more packaging at first glance but more months supply... the sort of thing that only evens up over a year rather than picking out a month or two.

Way fewer tablet packets etc. Yes!!! The plaster wrapper was annoying though.

The cassava crisps packet - yup, one last year, one this year! Hey ho... The green tea packet is one I bought a couple of years ago and has finally been finished. I'm trying now to keep tea one of the plastic free zones in my life, at least the teas I drink for pleasure anyway, there are medicinal ones I haven't found a way around as yet. I can get green tea in paper bags or tins and I grow most of my herbal teas now. The chocolate wrapper - that bar was a present and much enjoyed. But I don't buy the plastic wrapped ones for myself and am kicking myself for having bought a few to tuck into presents.

I still haven't solved the miso problem but have found some in a single plastic bag rather than double wrapped! The plastic tubs of it I've found have the recycling numbers on in Japanese so I've no idea whether they can be recycled here or not, so I've decided against buying them for now.

There are probably slightly fewer strips cut off the top of the giant snaplock bags the bulk foods come in from the wholesaler as I've been buying more things in the 3kg bags rather than 1kg. Every little helps and the costs are slightly lower per kg, although requiring a larger initial outlay. There are scraps of plastic bags that had been re-purposed into poi that I had made at Summer Gathering several years ago. As part of my decluttering mission I decided they'd hung around doing nothing for quite long enough and I've reclaimed the stuffing for future craft projects, however the outer layers were beyond being useful again. There is also a plastic cover that was around my latest photobook that I got done - again part of my decluttering!

Then there is the pile of stuff that whilst not single use can't be recycled, my hairbrush, travel toothbrush, an out of date Community Services card, a couple of dvds (again being disposed of as part of the declutter), a deodorant container and a tub I had reused but had then cracked and it isn't recyclable. The deodorant, hair and toothbrushes have all be replaced with non-plastic items. Well okay technically the bristles of both brushes are still plastic/nylon but the handles are bamboo and the bit holding the hair brush bristles is rubber.

This year I've been focusing more on getting rid of/using up things and replacing plastic items as there aren't that many single use plastic items that come in to my life on a regular basis that I can cut back on. I've noticed my shopping habits have really changed though over the last year, when in Wellington recently and going round shops with a far greater range of food than I can buy locally I found myself running my eyes over the shelves looking at first not so much as to what was in the packets etc but what they were made off, when I spotted something glass, paper or tin I then looked to see if it was anything I might need! When I was in our local butcher's shop yesterday with Jane I did the same looking over his shelves of Asian groceries and came away with a glass jar of pickled ginger. I'm a way off finishing the current jar (which is recyclable plastic) but I'd heard a rumour that John was moving down to Auckland and whilst hopefully another butcher will keep the shop open there is no guarantee they'd keep the Asian groceries side of things going. (I'm all for supporting local independent retailers selling local produce even if it is mostly stuff I don't eat myself!)

I'm slowly replacing plastic scoops and measuring spoons that I keep in various jars of dried goods that I use regularly by rummaging through the odds and ends boxes at op/charity shops. When in Auckland I managed to get a metal wide necked funnel for filling jars and a smaller one for bottles. I did also replace my potato shaped veg scrubbing brush, it is plastic but as the last one has lasted me over a decade I figured I could live with that! I've got to the point now where I only have 5 plastic storage tubs in the kitchen for flours and oats, everything else is in glass or ceramics. As they are BPA free, Kiwi made Sistema klip-it tubs they can stay, for now.

Out of curiosity I'll keep my 'dilemma bag' going through August as well as I did last year and see how the end results compare. But it won't stop there, I'll be working on this for the rest of the year that follows. It will be interesting to compare notes by the time July next year comes around and see what else has become 'the norm' and which are the new more challenging aspects. And by then there will no doubt be something else like the envelope windows that hadn't even dawned on me before! Maybe as well as my cloth bags for weighed goods at the healthfood shop I'll have finally got around to making some tulle bags for veggies as we've got a new greengrocers opening up in town tomorrow...

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