Did you go plastic-free in July?
Anytime someone asks me how my week’s been, I always seem to respond in confusion. Busy of course…but then I can’t exactly remember what I’ve done. Parent life. It speeds by. To deal with our busyness we use products to make our lives more convenient and easier to manage. Products wrapped in a whole lot of plastic packaging. I’ve been aware that there’s an epidemic on our hands, but actually not actively thought about what I’m buying or changing major habits until single-use plastic bags were banned. To be honest when you’re trying to juggle your job and your kid, the idea of buying alternate (and probably more expensive) products rather than habitual products that you know you like, and you already know works, just seems a little overwhelming.
So with it being the last day of Plastic Free July, I look back at my month. It was a big ask. To go plastic free for the whole month? Let’s just pause on that... I ponder in silence as I think back to earlier today, handing my son a seaweed packet, which happens to have a plastic packaging. OOPS. And...a plastic inner base. EEK.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally applaud those who are completely going zero waste but that is way too unrealistic for me. I think it’ll a slow and steady process for a lot of us, much like phasing out smoking or plastic bags.
So rather than feeling guilty for a month for trying to reach an unobtainable goal of going completely plastic free, I decided to use Plastic Free July to take little steps..
1. Being more mindful about my purchases.
Instead of buying unconsciously, to be more mindful of the purchases I make as well, choosing products which packaging can be recycled, as well as being more informed as to which products don’t impact on our environment.
For example, above is a gallery of all the different products I came across this month which I posted on social media and it created a lot of conversation around reducing plastic and consumption. Products that I have become more mindful of are:
Soft plastics (Yes, the soft plastic recycling bins are back...but only in limited stores in Auckland)
Have also started using a Coraball. Did you know when you use your washing machine (especially synthetic materials), teeny tiny microfibers (including plastics) are washed down our drains and out to sea. Coraball works like coral to help pick up these fibers so that we can dispose of them properly. We bought ours from Caliwoods.
2. Become active on the internet and social media.
As well as posting products online, I've joined a Facebook group called Zero Waste in NZ to get more ideas as well as reading up more to expand my knowledge on working towards zero waste - really loved this blog from Caliwoods which shows how we can love plastic in the right way as well this blog by Environmental Professionals Network informing us how to promote sustainability.
3. Have more conversations with our children about the importance to reduce, re-use and re-cycle.
If we don’t, the next generation will just take things for granted. I’ve started asking Master 4 if he can discern whether we can recycle different materials like cardboard and paper. We’ve also made a game out of trying to find the recycle triangle on the plastics. I think it’s working. My son observed a guy littering on the streets, and as we picked the plastic up, he pulled a disgusted face and called the man “naughty”.
After Plastic Free July, I will continually look for other means for my family to improve my carbon footprint, and in the long run hope to steer the ship towards being more sustainable in the long run.
And with that I’ll leave you with a story. Master 4 was bathing and I was catching up on social media on stool next to him. All of sudden he cried out in anguish desperately trying to stop something from going down the plug with his hands. Turns out he was trying to stop his body cleanser from going down the drain as he thought it would “hurt the sea animals”. Wow, if he thinks this at four and we keep educating ourselves, there’s nothing stopping him. 😊