There’s a challenge kicking off on July 1st that will get you through these darker months. It’ll take you to markets you have never been, lead you to conversations you have never had and mostly uncover a world where jars and Tupperware become your new best friends! Yes, it’s Plastic –Free July.
It’s definitely daunting, particularly as Coles, Woolies and Aldi won’t be the go-to for July, but hey, since when are challenges easy?
Across the globe people of all ages and backgrounds are currently bulking their pantries, prepping their jars and rallying themselves to defy a single item that has nestled itself into our lives with extreme convenience.
This is the major challenge to overcome: convenience. Everything takes that little bit longer without plastic. But there’s one very good reason to test that patience.
Every single piece of plastic ever created still exists on this planet in a shrunken version of its original self.
Every plastic wrapper you’ve used, water bottle you’ve purchased, plastic fork you’ve eaten from is stacked in landfill or floating in the ocean.
Keen to give it-a-go? Well here’s how to start:
Check out the Plastic-Free July page and sign-up
If you don’t have any jars, pick some up cheap from Vinnies or Salvos
Locate your local whole-foods store and cheap produce markets
Create a list with your most-used/favourite plastic wrapped items with a column to write an alternative. It may take some time and research to find a replacement but there will be one
Write a one-liner to use with shop assistance that sums up (simply) your plastic free motivation – ideally something that shows you’re not trying to make their lives harder, e.g. “I’m trying to live plastic free for a month, do you mind using my container for….”
Now, you’re pretty much set to go. Here a couple tips on where to find certain groceries:
Local whole-food store — buy in bulk with jars:
Grains – rice, cous-cous, pasta, cereals, flour and loads more
Bi-carb soda is used as an agent for cleaning (recipes for toothpaste, shampoo/condition, dishes, clothes washing etc are easily found online)
Apple-cider ginger used as a shampoo and conditioner
Nuts and dried fruits
Tip: Don’t buy pasta from whole-food store, usually very expensive, look for boxed pasta in supermarket
Local markets for fresh produce.
Tip: Take your own brown paper bags for lettuces, grapes, mushrooms etc.
Fruit and veg is one of the only items unwrapped in supermarkets although this is becoming less and less. Mushroom bags will also become a new friend for loose items like leaves or grapes
For haloumi, feta, olives, cold meats take a clean Tupperware container to the deli section*
Pasta – find pasta in boxes. Recommended brand is Barilla, type Cozzelione in blue cardboard box, is vegan and soaks up sauce real nice
Canned items – beans, chickpeas, lentils, coconut milk, tomato pastes etc.
For dairy and other milks buy cartons or tins. Yogurt is tricky, invest in a yogurt maker (highly recommended – saves heaps of dollars
*Tip: At deli, before placing order present clean container along with one-liner explanation and ask whether they’re comfortable using it.
Tip: Items that are wrapped in paper/cardboard in supermarket such as chips or wraps often have a plastic inner for freshness – don’t be fooled
Butcher - Like the deli take a container and ask before you place an order, explain with your one-liner and they tend to be much more understanding
Baker - Recommend are silk bags for bread. Again before asking for a loaf just give them your bag then place the order.
You will find shop assistance in different Coles, Woolies and butchers to vary on their willingness to use your container. But all you can do is ask, if they say no then try another. Somewhere that is willing is generally somewhere better to support. You will probably also find to strike up new friendships… especially at your local Lebanese restaurant where you can get tasty falafels!
The issue of plastic pollution is in every persons reach. We can reduce the litter being carried by currents to areas in the ocean the size of Texas (North Pacific Garbage Patch). We can turn back statistics that say plastic litter in the oceans kills 100,000 turtles, dolphins, whales, as well as 1 million seabirds annually.
The time is now, July is almost upon us, so make those new friends and let us know how you go.