I’m a Scottish blogger who is about to undertake the challenge of Plastic Free July2014. I have been ‘in training’ for the past eight months – assessing my use of disposable plastics and working out what alternatives I can use. My blog documents my busy life, full of competing priorities while focussing on the ‘inconvenience’ of trying to save the planet! I post about techniques and products that help me along the way, and there are a fair number of posts about me trying to get back on track when things haven’t quite gone to plan!
Next month is Plastic Free July! Don’t worry, it’s not nearly as difficult as it sounds – the challenge doesn’t stop you using all plastics, just those that are single-use, or disposable. But wait…take a snap shot from your day today. Did an hour go by that you didn’t use a disposable plastic?
Think of your breakfast – was there cereal in a plastic bag, or perhaps milk from a plastic carton? Was there yoghurt in a plastic pot, or a plastic carton of fresh berries? What about at work, did you use a plastic disposable pen or sellotape? At home, did you use washing-up liquid from a plastic bottle or even just blow your nose on a tissue that had plastic on top of the box?
Single-use plastics are everywhere!
For one month I am going to attempt to avoid them as much as I possibly can. The reason that I have made this crazy commitment is to reduce my damaging impact on the environment. Because plastic doesn’t naturally degrade, much of it ends up in landfill to hang around possibly forever, leaching chemicals into the land. Some plastic rubbish doesn’t even make it into the bin to start its journey to landfill. I like to think mine does, but I’ve had the occasional plastic bag that has blown out of the car boot on a windy day, and no doubt there’s been other innocent plastic littering offences that I’ve hardly registered. Who knows where that stuff ends up, but plastic waste can be found in oceans and the countryside, where it poses a danger to wildlife as they consume it or get trapped by it.
Last year I read about Plastic Free July (www.plasticfreejuly.org) and thought it was an admirable challenge – but not something I would ever attempt! How could I?! Life is busy and I have small children to look after – I cared about the environment of course but…you know…not enough to turn my life upside down for a month!!
Annoyingly though, the concept niggled away at me. I kept thinking about the impact of single-use plastics and I wrote a few blog posts on the topic. I changed a few of the easy things – I bought my veg loose rather than using small plastic bags, I swapped bottled liquid soap for bars and I stopped wrapping my homemade bread in clingfilm and bought a tin. For the first time, I opened my eyes to the plastic around me. I could see where I was failing the environment and – maybe it’s just me – but I don’t like to fail!
Back in October 2013, with 9 months to go, I announced on my blog that I’d be taking part in Plastic Free July 2014. I had no idea quite how I was going to reach the point where I could last for a month without single-use plastics, but I reckoned I had time to get myself in training!
Eight months (and several blog posts) later, I am now a matter of weeks away from the start of Plastic Free July. I’ve solved a lot of the plastic problems that I anticipate coming up against but, to be honest, I’ll be winging it with some of the others!
I’d be delighted if anyone wants to follow my progress during July and if you have any suggestions that might help, then please get in touch via my blog at
westywrites.wordpress.com or my Twitter account @Westywrites – I have a feeling I’ll need all the help I can get.
Also, why not make a pledge of your own? If you can’t face a whole month without single-use plastics, then there are so many some small and manageable changes you can make. Here are some of my suggestions, taken from a post I wrote back in December.
1. Swap that plastic bottle of liquid soap or shower gel for a bar of soap, wrapped in paper, cardboard or unwrapped.
2. Refuse plastic carrier bags and instead, carry your own – a fold-away bag attached to your key-ring or handbag can make all the difference.
3. Take a re-usable cup out with you when buying coffee on your way to work, for example.
4. Carry a bottle of water from home with you with you instead of buying water in plastic bottles.
5. Ditch cling-film.
6. If you have a choice between products – anything from ketchup to toys to gifts- go for the one with the least plastic content.
7. Stop buying fruit & veg in pre-packed plastic bags. Buy loose or take your own produce bags.
8. Ditch disposable straws.
9. Find a local veg box delivery scheme and request that your order comes plastic-free.
10. Instead of buying DVDs and CDs, sign-up to film subscriptions (eg. Love Film) and Music Apps (eg Spotify or Deezer).
If every person reading this blog post, chooses one action for July, think of all of the plastic that will be saved from landfill! We are living in an increasingly fragile planet, let’s use July to make a difference.