1. Some 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flows into the oceans every year from coastal regions. That’s the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic trash sitting on every foot of coastline around the world.
2. 40 percent of plastic produced is packaging, used just once and then discarded.
3. Less than a fifth of all plastic is recycled globally.
4. By 2050, virtually every seabird species on the planet will be eating plastic.
How I survived Plastic Free July
The word "survived" might seem a bit extreme, but at the beginning of the month I really didn't know how I was going to do it. On the 1st of July we just so happened to be going away. We were driving to France for a two week holiday. The first obstacle and possibly the hardest was eating on the road. I've never noticed before but there is literally NOTHING in a gas station to eat that isn't packaged in plastic, even the bananas were in plastic packaging! Luckily I'd come prepared... I was the smelly kid in the back of the car eating boiled eggs and home-made kale chips.
It became clear very early on that preparation is key to living plastic free! My reusable water bottle was essential, as was my reusable coffee cup and my produce bags came in handy in all kinds of situations. Every time we went out for drinks I stuck to wine. Ordering cocktails in french is one thing but asking for a cocktail without a straw was just asking for trouble. On one occasion I really fancied a Pina Colada, I was on holiday after all, I managed to communicate to the waitress that I didn't want a straw, great success I though as she handed me a cocktail without a straw, she then put two straws in my partners drink as if she was making up for the fact she hadn't given me one! In the end I found the easiest way to avoid plastic is to avoid the situation all together. So I drank a lot of wine and I had a lot of ice-creams in cones (no spoon!) ... life really wasn't so bad!!
I found a great plastic-free suncream called "Shade" which saved my life in the 35 degrees heat. I made my own toothpaste because I ran out of time to order some from Georganics (theirs is much better than my attempt!) they also do bamboo toothbrushes! I didn't wash my hair with shampoo or conditioner for 30 days! I washed it a few times with bicarb soda, washed it with raw egg (a bizarre experience that I did not once but twice for some reason, desperate times). Then on the last day of July I thought I'd treat myself to a conditioning hair mask... made of banana and coconut oil. It was an awful idea, my hair ended up so knotted I thought at one point I'd have to shave my head... as a last resort before the head shave I used some conditioner I already had in the cupboard (pre plastic-free July). I was frustrated to fall at the last hurdle but I had to remind myself I'd come a long way and I should still be proud!
Food shopping was strange to start with, I'd basically do my entire food shop in the fresh produce aisles. This is actually great, plastic is such a convenience and I was forced to live without any convenience! Want bread? Make it from scratch! Want guacamole? Make it from scratch! Going plastic free forced me to eat a lot healthier. Believe me there's a lot you can make with fresh fruit and veg. Potatoes found a new place in my heart <3 A normal day might look like this-
Breakfast: Cup of tea (biodegradable teabag or loose leaf tea) with goats milk (easier to buy fresh out of plastic). 3 scrambled eggs cooked in butter.
Lunch: Toast (homemade bread) with peanut butter and banana.
Dinner: Loads of veggies, baked potato or home-made french fries with avocado + fresh salad.
Snacks: Dark chocolate, watermelon, mango, banana, coffee.
All in all, it's been fun to challenge myself and I hope by sharing my journey I have made others consider their plastic consumption. I'm not asking anyone to go plastic-free but I do ask you to think about your purchasing decisions and to think do I really need this piece of plastic? Plastic free July has certainly changed my perspective on how I shop and I will definitely continue to use less plastic all year round.
I'm sure I'll be back next year!
Plastic Free Julie