Sunday, July 19, 2015

Plastic Free July - half way through

I've been away for the last 10 days and not been online much so this is a bit of a catch up...

I got to Day 6 of PFJ and was rather smuggly looking at the empty (plastic) bag that I had sitting in my room designated to hold what single use plastic I couldn't avoid this month. At the time I was tearing out the windows from envelopes so the paper could be better recycled, I was about to head to the bin with them when it sank in that the windows couldn't be recycled as part of the envelopes as they were plastic! D'oh.... So in the bag they went.

I was getting my stuff ready to go away and decided that 10 days of the travel toothbrush that I had been using was too long. It was an aeroplane freebie and for some reason the cover never stays on properly as a handle when using it. Whilst once or twice is okay for brushing my teeth with something I can barely grip I wasn't prepared to go that long, so finally my travel toothbrush got upgraded to a bamboo one too. I was about to chuck the old one and thought well it was hardly single use, but it can't be recycled so in the bag it went.

Similarly my old hairbrush went in, now finally replaced with a bamboo one even if I did have to grit my teeth and buy it in The Body Shop. Having boycotted them since L'Oreal bought them out that was a battle of ethics but it was the only place I could find a non-plastic handle. And then there's the deodorant casing - I've been using my homemade coconut oil & lavender hand cream for deodorant for a few weeks now and so far so good (it soaks into the skin quicker than my kawakawa balm, so it doesn't end up on my clothes), whether it will work through summer remains to be seen.

Not looking quite so empty now then, that bag... When I got back I also added in the accumulated packets and other bits and bobs I'd very diligently hung on to as I travelled. Not quite diligently enough though, when I was at the usual cafe stop on the bus home I was putting the packet the teabag was in in their rubbish when it dawned on me that it wasn't just paper, but plastic lined. Damn. So that means there should be two of those in there - one for each trip. Also on the way down I thought the long journey was the perfect time to consume a chocolate bar given to me, which despite being Whittaker's was in a plastic wrapper, grrr. I'd very conscientiously refilled my flask with green tea in Auckland at Joanne & Oscar's before they took me to the airport so I wouldn't have to drink black tea on the plane or get a plastic glass of water, but totally forgot about PFJ when they offered me a bag of cassava crisps! I refused the lollies later with some contrition.

So what else is in there: several blister packs from tablets (still can't avoid that one unfortunately - the one medication I have come off was the only one that came in a recyclable tub!); the packet and backing off a sticking plaster; the snipped off bits from cutting open a couple of plastic bags; a wee tub I'd reused (I think it had been a takeaway sauce pottle J&O had acquired) to put baking soda in for washing my hair whilst away but it had cracked and isn't recyclable; a bag that had had dried figs in bought before I made my cloth bags for bulk foods from the healthfood shop, and a packet that had genmai tea in it I'd bought a couple of years ago.

Overall though not a bad collection given the bulk of it in terms of weight is stuff I've replaced with non-plastic and don't intend to buy again if I can avoid it. It has certainly been a lot easier this time around as I've done a lot of the thinking and have got into the habit of deliberately avoiding more plastic year round. I have cloth bags for weigh-out goods, I have beeswax wraps instead of clingfilm/gladwrap, I have a metal travel flask as well as metal water bottle, I have a much better idea of what products can be bought in non-plastic packaging and a bunch of recipes I've got into the habit of making that cut out bought plastic wrapped foods such as crackers and snack bars etc.

Over recent months I've got a lot better at making sure all food plastic bags get washed out and put in the recycling - I might not be buying stuff packed like that but I'm not the only one doing shopping around here!

I've also been replacing and/or getting rid of various other plastic items in my life that don't need to be there. Anything still usable by someone else has been passed on, there's no point throwing away stuff that is still useful even if it is plastic! I'd just rather have alternatives around at home, it makes me more conscious of the plastic I do still use when it stands out more. Having a big clearout and reorganization of my clothes a few weeks back meant I could take all my plastic hangers to the SPCA shop for them to use!

I can't imagine ever getting to the point of no plastic in my life, but I can certainly reduce it towards essentials only where there isn't a viable alternative (technology for a start!).One thing I realized recently though is that whilst I've got pretty good at avoiding plastic for myself I need to be a bit more on to it when it comes to things I buy or use for others - it finally dawned on me that when I'm making Phyllis' meals I don't have to use the individually wrapped cheese slices just because she would, I can slice or grate the big block! So she's getting through far fewer of those these days which is a step in the right direction.

Now to see how well the rest of the month goes...

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