Going plastic-free (ish) for July


You may or may not know that I am passionate about the environment and do my best to recycle and live as sustainably as possible (which it turns out is more difficult in Switzerland than it was in Germany). Yesterday, I read a post by Steph in which she calls on her readers to participate in Plastic Free July. <- Click that link to read all about it; I had never heard of it, but it’s a real campaign, not something she made up. I loved the idea and decided I want to join in.

You don’t have to go completely plastic-free, thankfully – that would be next to impossible in the country where I have yet to see milk in a glass bottle. As long as you commit to doing something to reduce the single-use plastics in your life you’ll be doing your bit. And who knows, you might find you don’t actually need the thing you decide to give up and carry on your commitment beyond July.

For myself, I had to think quite hard about what I should give up. I already do a lot of the “easy” things people suggest for getting started. I always have a reusable bag with me when I go shopping (and our supermarkets have paper bags anyway, which I am aware have problems of their own but in the context of single-use plastics they’re not really relevant). I have reusable net bags for loose fruit and vegetables, so I don’t need to use the plastic bags provided. I almost never drink bottled water – the exception is when I’m in holiday in a place where you can’t drink the tap water. I very rarely buy take away coffee – since I work from home I can just make my own hot drinks and if I buy one from a café I’m usually sitting in the café, drinking from a normal cup. I make sure to buy paper cotton buds instead of plastic ones. I buy washing powder in cardboard boxes instead of plastic bags – also planning in checking out a local zero waste shop soon to see if they have any washing powder I can purchase with no packaging at all. So what does that leave? Here’s what I’ve decided to do:

  1. No ordering online for the whole of July. While some things come packaged in nothing but cardboard, I can never guarantee that they will and in some cases I know for a fact they won’t! I buy most of my books used from Better World Books (for every book sold they donate one to Books for Africa or provide support for other literacy non-profits) but they always send them in (annoying!) plastic packaging. New Look ships their clothing in plastic bags. And many other companies also use plastic somewhere in their packaging. So for the whole of July I will do my best not to order anything online.
  2. No ready meals in plastic containers. This also includes the ready-made bakery items at the local supermarket – the bags provided for them are paper but they have a plastic window for the employees to see the products. Looks like I am going to have to majorly rethink how I eat lunch in July (I often grab a sausage roll from the shop round the corner)!
  3. Look for alternatives in non-plastic packaging and buy those even if they are more expensive. If there are no alternatives and the item is non-essential, go without. I already know I’ll be making two exceptions: 1) milk – it’s an essential to me; I need it for tea! Plus Jan eats cereal for breakfast at weekends 2) bin liners – the waste system here involves buying stickers to put on your bin bags. The stickers go by volume, so you have to buy the “proper” bin liners in the right size. There’s no way I’m going to be not taking my rubbish out for an entire month at the hottest time of year!

I will be updating you all via my blog (and possibly Instagram) throughout July sou you can see exactly how well (or badly) I do. And if you know of any easy things I missed out let me know in the comments and I’ll try to incorporate them if I don’t do them already. I Also check out Steph’s post if you haven’t already and, once July rolls around, the hashtag #sustainablestephs on Instagram. I would love it if everyone who read this would commit to doing one thing, however small, in July. If we all work together we can surely make a difference!



23 thoughts on “Going plastic-free (ish) for July

  1. I’m excited about this! Did you watch the War on Plastic documentary? It’s absolutely crazy what we are doing to the planet. I’m going to try to join in for Plastic Free July as well!

  2. I’ve definitely been trying to live more plastic-free lately – while I haven’t done quite as much as I want, every step is a good one. It’s why I now travel around with a reusable metal cup (for when I frequent the coffee shops), why I always have my reusable shopping bag, and why I eat from home when I can, or order from shops I know that are also cutting down on plastic. Thanks for the article – it’s great to unite with others on the same mission!

  3. I just returned from a two week trip to Germany/Europe – we stayed with my sister most of the time and as always, I was amazed at the recycling system. I mean I grew up with it but you forget after living in a different place for so long.
    We also went to visit Amsterdam and Antwerp and while each country has a better system in place than we do here (by a long shot), you could see the difference to Germany. Good luck!!!

    1. The system in Germany is amazing, although I saw a documentary that said Germany doesn’t actually recycle as much as it claims – the statistics are based on collections of recyclable materials but not all of it actually ends up being recycled. Still much better than Basel where plenty of recyclable packaging is simply incinerated.

  4. Love the thought behind online buying. So true. I might curb that, too. I bought a glass cold brew maker and some of my favorite (paper carton) creamers so I am boycotting all fast food iced coffee in July and making it at home! I’m excited to limit where I can!

    1. Yay, well done you! That’s a great idea for a contribution.
      I’ve basically given up coffee anyway just in case I ever manage to get pregnant so no fast food coffee will be passing my lips in July or any other month. (I know a little is okay but I can’t bring myself to do anything that might be even remotely harmful for a baby next time round. Not that I did last time – the infection was just bad luck – but I feel the need to be extra, extra, extra careful.)

      1. I don’t blame you! I kicked during most of the first trimester- especially since hot coffee just didn’t taste good. The afternoon iced coffee pick-me-ups have been a true life saver lately, though. Lol.

  5. Is it feasible to take your own tupperware box to the bakery and ask to have your sausage roll put into that? I’m not quite sure I understood your explanation, so maybe it’s not.

      1. At Lidl opposite school, I bring my own old paper bag to put bakery products in- they never seem to mind what skanky old bag I’ve put it in so I’ve been using the same ones over and over again. You could try that!
        And well done for signing up for this! I have also signed up for it- trying to think of ways that I can do more. I shared my deodorant (which is plastic-free with a fellow music camp player and she is going to look online for it from the Ethical supermarket!) You’re already doing well by posting about this as it is inspiring over people! Got to say I am still LOVING my milkman! It’s a shame it isn’t available everywhere!
        By the way, I am always willing to go to New Look and try and get you something if you see it online and want it without plastic!
        I’m going to try to go to Lush to try their shampoo bars as I am strongly disliking the ‘refill’ shampoo I got from the Refill room! Also might drop hints to kids at school about non-plastic as that time of year is coming round when (generous as it is!), I receive lots of plastic-wrapped presents- trying to encourage them just to make a card if they want to thank me (or buy me Lush shampoo bar maybe if they must!!!!)

      2. They haven’t had milkmen here for a long time!
        We went to both zero waste supermarkets here on Saturday and I didn’t see deodorant at either. Mine is in a glass bottle but the roller part and lid are still plastic.

      1. The bio veggies that are still wrapped in plastic drive me nuts. I just got some of those veggie bags but tend to forget to bring them with the other shopping bags.

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