Plastic Free July – Tips and Tricks

So, we’ve just reached the end of the first week of Plastic Free July, and for those of you who are using this as an opportunity to begin your low waste journey allow me to give you a few helpful tips to get on your way.

1.      Shop loose

This may be a bit of a no brainer, trying to shop for groceries without excess packaging but it’s finding these unpackaged groceries that may be the hard part. However, food loose shops are popping up all over the place and a quick google search should allow you to find one relatively close by, many of these food loose shops also work as part of a charity which adds an extra bonus.

For those of you who don’t want to spend the time trawling the internet for your closest shop then why not try these:

Zero waste near me – this is an ingenious website which allows you to input your locations and gives you a list of local low waste shops from bulk buy shops to farm stores.

Waitrose – You may have seen in the news, but Waitrose has become the first large scale supermarket to offer a zero packaging option. Check out your local Waitrose to see if they have a refill station.

2.      Don’t throw out your old plastic

It may seem like a bit of an oxymoron, but zero waste living can actually be fairly plastic heavy. I myself have plastic Tupperware that I’ve had for years which I have no intention of throwing away any time soon. The important thing is to steer clear of the single use plastics such as packaging. The plastic tupperwares and other tubs and boxes are actually super helpful when it comes to shopping low waste as you can take them to refill shops and bulk shops to fill up. Now there is the zero-waste aesthetic of pretty glass mason jars and I do use these but there’s no need to purge your cupboards of plastic tubs when they can still be useful. In fact, throwing away useful plastic items simply because they are plastic just adds to the pollution problem.

3.      Share with friends

One of the big parts of zero waste living that people often forget is community. There is a massive community of zero wasters out their who are very willing to share their knowledge and experience with you. As well as that why not try and get into the habit of asking your friends and family if they have something that you can borrow if you need it. Most of use will simply go out and buy something if a need for it arises even if we only plan on using it once but buying new should be a last resort. If you have a formal event coming up and need to dress up for it, firstly check out your closet to see if you already have something appropriate and if not ask around, most of the time there will be someone you know who has exactly what you need.

4.      Don’t go overboard

Now its great to be enthusiastic but the zero-waste lifestyle is a journey and not one that you will be able to complete in a month so start small. Make a few small steps this month that will set you up on the low waste journey. Promise to yourself that you will stop buying coffee in throwaway cups, maybe invest in a reusable one. Try preparing your food in bulk, or the night before so that you’re not tempted to buy a heavily packaged sandwich for lunch. And most importantly don’t go throwing money at it until you are more sure of what you need, a lot of the things that we need for a zero waste lifestyle are actually already in our homes and as the old adage goes less is definitely more.

 

All in all any steps you take towards living lower waste this month will help towards a healthier and more sustainable future. But this is a marathon and not a sprint, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you need a quick rest of find yourself stumbling a little.

Cross Generational Conversation

As time has gone on and I’ve looked further into low waste alternatives the comments I usually get are along the lines of ‘we used to have that’ or ‘that’s not a new idea’. And this is true, the culture of disposability is a recently new one, in past decades single use items were seen to be as wasteful as they really are.

As plastic, low quality alternatives became easier to obtain and markedly cheaper in the short term the higher quality, longer lasting staples became increasingly scarce. It’s has gotten to the point where for many of my generation and below that the idea of reusable nappies, reusable makeup wipes etc seem like a new invention.

This is why cross generational conversation is one of the most important things for this movement. I have gotten some of my best tips and ideas from people in older generations, and I like to think that people like me can offer a fresh perspective to others.

There are many places and events where people from different backgrounds and generations can meet and chat.

Repair Cafes

These are becoming more and more prevalent as people try to save money and make their electronics last longer. It’s also a great place to learn a skill.

Eco Meetings

Places like the Plastic Free meetings that I have been attending always have a healthy mix of people with a passion for doing what they can to improve their local area.

Fairs and Festivals

As we move into the summer food and drinks fairs will begin popping up. Whilst I have yet to see a zero waste fair, Vegan festivals and agricultural fairs often have interesting alternatives to try and plenty of people to meet.

When surrounded by people who are content with throwing away it can feel like a bit of a loosing battle trying to live low waste. Gathering with people that are of a similar mindset, whether it be at a Café, a festival, or a march, can be refreshing and downright enjoyable. If you do go to one of these gatherings be sure to engage, the Zero Waste Movement is all about sharing and increasing awareness, so share. Share your knowledge, your ideas and experiences, give people tips and take them in return.