Plastic Free July

Plastic Free July - The Slow Home Podcast

Did you know that every single piece of plastic ever produced still remains somewhere on earth today? I mean, if I thought about it logically I would recognise that fact, but there’s such a disconnect between the things we use every day and where they end up, that we simply don’t think about it at all.

Before Ben and I decided to walk the slow living walk and take some time away from our Slow Home Experiments, we had considered making July our month of living plastic free, to coincide with Plastic Free July. And while we’re not running an official experiment this month, in today’s episode we decide to take the Plastic Free July challenge anyway. After all, it’s an area both of us can afford to improve on, and there’s nothing like an outside challenge to motivate.

We talk about the challenge itself, as well as the areas we think we’ll do OK in, the areas that will challenge us (cheese: I am looking at you) and some of the changes we’ve already made over the past year.

The crew at Plastic Free July ask that we commit to reducing plastic for a day, a week or the entire month of July, and if going completely plastic free straight up makes you anxious (the reason I’ve not done it before) then all they ask is that we commit to avoiding these four single-use plastic items for a period of time:

    • shopping bags
    • water bottles
    • takeaway coffee cups and lids
  • drinking straws

Ben and I have already made a lot of changes over the past year or two, including:

    • purchasing reusable fabric produce bags
    • using fabric grocery bags
    • keeping a canvas bag in my handbag
    • using KeepCups when we buy takeaway coffee
    • paper straws at home
    • stainless steel water bottles for the family
    • reusable food wraps instead of plastic wrap, waxed paper and aluminium foil
  • heavy duty glass containers and jars for leftovers, bulk cooking, freezing and food storage

But there are some additional changes we’re going to make this month to see how much we can reduce our plastic load:

    • buy some stainless steel straws to use both at home and while we’re out
    • buy a KeepCup or similar for both the kids
    • talk to the butcher and deli owner about using our own glass containers when purchasing meat, cheese etc
    • get our bread from the local bakehouse and use our own fabric bags instead of plastic or paper
  • investigate nearby bulk food stores, or the option of buying online

Maybe it’s because the pressure to Do It All and Do It Right has been removed, but I don’t feel as overwhelmed by the prospect of Plastic Free July now. Granted, I am sure there will be failures and obstacles, but a big part of slow living is doing away with the idea of ‘perfect’ anyway, so this is a good opportunity for growth!

Do you want to join us in our efforts to go Plastic Free? Feel free to use the official #plasticfreejuly as well as our #slowhomeexperiment and we can help keep each other motivated.


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16 Responses to Plastic Free July

  1. Just take the first step. I’ve been buying Pyrex to replace our Tupperware/Gladware. Master that, then take the next… Sounds a lot like decluttering your house one bag at a time.

  2. Ben was on fire today…great show. Lots of laugh out loud moments.
    I’ve steered away from plastic free july because it just seems too hard, I’ve done the easy things. I think I will check with my butcher about using my own containers. Thanks for talking about the bee wraps too, I’ve been considering getting some. We don’t use plastic wrap at all, but do re-use bread bags for those times where I haven’t found a suitable replacement, perhaps the bee wraps could fill that need. Then I could search out bag free bread too.
    Enjoy your break

  3. Hey guys,
    just listening now to the podcast, and just want to say I think it’s great you’re taking time off! For you guys, but also for me…I love to keep up to date listening to the podcasts, and we have school holidays here in Perth too, and I really struggle to find that solo time to listen! So I can just hang with my kids, and enjoy a slower holidays too. It will be the first one in years when I won’t be juggling out of the house work! Woo hoo!

    Have a great break :)

  4. You may like Honest to Goodness where you can buy bulk items – nuts, seeds etc – delivered to your door. I now buy things in 2.5-5kg bags which cuts down on the amount of plastic and waste. Some products are even packaged in paper

  5. I went to the grocery store shortly after listening to your podcast. I do well with taking my own bags, using glass at home, and other little things, BUT seeing how much plastic is in packaging is unreal! We eat mostly whole foods so don’t buy a lot of processed foods but even the few things we do buy is wrapped in plastic! I need to get my cloth produce bags back out. I forget to take them many times. I am also going to try to use less plastic wrap at home.

    For those who use the beeswax wraps, how do you clean them? How long do they last?

    Love your podcast! Thank you!

  6. I have for years worked on living a lower-toc and lower-waste lifestyle. Lately I have been super lazy about disposabke coffee cups when travelling so will be more conscientious this summer. Regarding the straws- I have used bamboo, stainless steel (gave all these away) and glass (by farmy favorite especially since I can see if they are clean inside and for mouthfeel). I ordered the beeseax wraps so thanks for the recommendation; they’ve been on my radar but I had yet to make the investment.

  7. Great episode! :) This resonated with me so much. I have a glass keepcup, and get a fair few positive comments on it (possibly partly because it’s hot pink). It came from one of my local coffee shops so no one seems to bat an eyelid when I hand it over. I think the coffee tastes better in glass than those takeaway cups too. Taking it one step further (too far?!) I also took the keepcup with me on an overseas trip recently…

    I used to throw all my vegetables into the shopping trolley too but my partner couldn’t cope with this (he cites the cleanliness of the shopping trolley as his issue) so we’ve at least compromised and he will reuse the plastic bags for veggies until they fall apart! Ditto I will never buy the packaged up zucchini! Luckily they don’t seem to do it too often here in NZ.

    I think meat is the main issue for me. I could just not eat it, but again my partner has different ideas! Oh and if I know packaging will just get thrown away if I say no to it, I normally end up taking it as the optimist (hoarder) in me always thinks I can find something else to use it for…!

  8. Hi guys, great episode, and lovely to hear you are having a well earned break.
    I’ve been thinking lots about trying to be more plastic free and ‘zero waste’ since your interview with Bea. Everytime i use a plastic bag or gladwrap I cringe! I would love to make the shift from plastic bags at the supermarket to the cloth ones but i have one question/issue. What do you then use to line your rubbish bins?!! Seems like a silly question, and maybe it’s a NZ thing, but every single person i know uses supermarket bags (or buys plastic bin liners) for their bin. This is the sole reason i haven’t made the move to cloth bags. So what do you guys use? Is there some kind of compostable or recyclable liner? Are you just not really putting much in the rubbish anymore (as per Bea’s way of life)?

    • I personally have just forgone bags all together and put it in loose. Then clean the bin every now and then:)

  9. Hey Brooke and Ben!

    Just wanted to let you know about a new little grocery store at Lawson (so a little closer then Katoomba!) where you can get bulk dry goods and organic local fruit and veg.
    It’s called lyttletons and is just off the highway on San Jose Ave.
    You should definitely check it out!

  10. Hi, I live a plastic free and zero waste life. If we are shopping and something is already packaged in plastic and we want it, we simply won’t buy it. We will suggest to the vendor to think about supplying it without plastic in the future or chat about another solution. In the beginning of our transition to plastic free and zero waste some vendors would use a plastic bag to wrap cheese and then put it into our container or a plastic bag to pick up meat. We would always take the plastic bag home, clean it and recycle it. I have one friend who gives me fig paste each year and always wraps it up in cling film. It’s not technically my waste but I take responsibility for it.

    As for the takeaway question, we don’t buy takeaway food for the house. If we can’t be bothered cooking at home, we will eat in. I have never attempted to get something like Thai takeaway and bring it home. To me, I think way to much time would be wasted when you can just sit in, enjoy the meal and let someone else do the washing up. Its nice to sit in and take that time for myself or for us. Reducing my takeaway reminded me that I’m worth that extra 10, 20 or 30 minutes to take that time out. While takeaway is convenient, I find takeaway kinda pushes the lifestyle that we are too busy to sit down and relax.

    Best of luck with plastic free july :)

  11. I’ve been listening to your podcast since the beginnning, and it really strikes me that slow living and sustainable living are fundamentally the same thing. Sustainability is my jam, but I couldn’t live sustainably if I wasn’t also living mindfully and intentionally with my life. We can’t make changes to a more sustainable lifestyle if we are overwhelmed with busy. Going plastic free would only be another burden to add to the overwhelm. But when you have a mindfun intentional life it is so much easier to make those small changes to your habits that will add up to a big enviromental change over time. Its great to hear that you are on the sustaianble living journey too. Some come to slow living after making sustainable changes, some do it the other way around. But we end up making the same changes in the long run!