‘Well, today is July 31st, 2017, and that means Plastic Free July will officially end come 11:59pm tonight. That doesn’t mean that we have to throw away all of our newly found habits now that the 31-day deadline is over. It means that we get to keep moving forward towards a goal of completely eliminating plastic from our lives. It means that we get to reflect on what we’ve learned this month, and see how we can effectively turn that information into lessons to better ourselves in the coming months. Below are our first-hand accounts of progress we made, goals we achieved or missed, and other habits we’ve improved upon to better the health of our own bodies, as well as the environment as a whole over the last 31 days.
Josh: Through doing this challenge I have realised the large amount plastic waste that is produced in our society. This month made me conscious of my contribution to the problem and I now aim the reduce my impact as much as possible. I have learned that is it essential to keep reusable utensils and water bottle in my backpack and pack all food in containers.
Zheng Xin: When I first embarked on my Plastic Free July Journey, I was nervous. It seemed like a big step for me to commit to an entire month of trying to eliminate as much plastic as possible. However, I soon realised that small changes in my every day life really reduced the amount of plastic that I used. From using reusable water bottles and saying no to plastic straws, it not only reduced my plastic, but I also saved money. I bought less fast food and brought all my meals from home. After this month, I hope to continue try to reduce my plastic consumption and be more aware of potential alternatives.
Clare: I feel like my Plastic Free July challenge experience went pretty well. I had trouble at first since I was not use to preparing items beforehand such as containers and did not have any stainless steel straws. I am used to bringing my own water bottle and grocery bags with me before the challenge. However, now I always have a little pouch with me which has utensils and my stainless steel straw whenever I leave my house. If I know that I will purchase food I bring a container with me so I do not need to stuff myself silly. I struggled with finding restaurants and cafes which use paper or compostable take out containers but there are some out there! I had mixed reactions from people sometimes but I just explained that I love marine species and want to reduce my plastic use. I found that a lot of people offer single use plastic automatically even as a kind gesture to be helpful. My kind gesture to the ocean environment and to the planet is to refuse plastic and use my own item when possible.
Amanda: Wow, Plastic Free July threw me for a loop! I thought it was going to be a relatively easy challenge for someone like myself who is already committed to reducing my waste as much as possible, but some of the little things were so hard! I had already, for the most part, been able to eliminate my need for straws and cups when I went out and completely got rid of the need for single use plastic water bottles before this challenge began. So my goals for this challenge were to avoid plastics, but also create no waste while doing things like dining out, or going to a store for lunch. This proved difficult, because I never put in the right amount of time into my planning to properly prepare for what my week would bring. I had my cloth napkins, my straws, my coffee mug, my masons, and my bread bag in hand – yet I was almost always forgetting a takeaway container, or some way to reduce the packaging of the food itself. While most of my waste was paper, they places where I was dining would not recycle it. Everything just went into one big bin and was thrown out at the end of the day. I mustered up the courage to ask for my drinks in a mason instead of a cup, which was not recyclable or compostable, and I felt good about reducing my waste this way when it was allowed. I used my own straw, my own cup, and my own napkins, but my meals always seemed to come in a kind of paper, sometimes plastic-lined “wax” paper, before I could consume it. I would bring it home with me to recycle, but I would have been much happier if I had thought ahead and put it into my own glass or steel container instead of having them wrap it up. With a little bit more planning, I am hoping to really reduce my waste in this area of my life, and feel more accomplished with my new habits. Basically, the biggest lesson I learned is that you can never be too prepared for a possible situation, and that being thoughtful and prepared will help save a lot of waste from heading to landfill. Precious resources will no longer be wasted wrapping up a sandwich that I am just going to unwrap 30 seconds later, and throw in the trash.
Tell us about your month, your successes and failure, and where you are planning on improving for the rest of the year? Interesting comments will be featured on our twitter page over the following week! Happy Plastic Free July, and remember, conscious environmental choices are a great thing to get in the habit of all year ’round!