Plastic Free July- The little things I'm doing to help our planet (that you could do too!)

15 July 2019

Apart from #DryJuly and #NoSpendJuly, July is also #PlasticFreeJuly month . Environmental consciousness is very close to my heart. The more people speak about it, the better. Like they say, we don’t need a few people doing it perfectly but millions doing it imperfectly (referring to environment saving initiatives). Of course, the efforts need to extend beyond this month. Habits take time so this month do break a few habits and maybe they’ll set in for a lifetime. I’m sharing a few daily things I do which align with Plastic Free July and environmental consciousness in general. These don’t take a lot of effort either. If I'm able to convince even one of you readers, I'll consider my job done. 

1. I carry my own fabric bag to supermarket and say no to plastic bags. You don't have to go to an online store and buy expensive produce bags. I use the one that my Sketchers shoes came in, another one is from a supermarket and third from an Indian sweets shop (Mithai!). The more randomness, the cooler it is.

Yes! Even I forget to take to supermarket most days, but it’s still always in my car boot. I then take the supermarket trolley full of groceries to car park and fill the bags there. 

2. While in supermarket, I try my absolute best to not use any of the small plastic bags available on a roll for packing individual fruits and veggies. I'm not always successful but I try my very best to not use any.

3. I do not buy things with unnecessary packaging. It’s my pet peeve. Ready to eat Paranthas were added to this list last week. Why does every parantha have two plastic sheets around it (Kawan’s brand)? Cucumbers and Eggplants wrapped in cling wrap irk me a lot. 

4. We are not into takeaways but some how the containers do end up in my pantry from elsewhere. I re-use them to death storing food in fridge, packing lunches in them, etc. 

5. In my fridge, I don’t use cling wrap anymore. All leftovers are packed in the million Sistema plastic containers I have. Rest are covered with Beeswax and the Vegan Candelilla Wax wrap (pictured). 

6. Yes, I have some Sistema plastic containers in my pantry. They were bought in times when I wasn’t very conscious of my plastic consumption. However, now that I know better, I will still not throw them out to buy more glass. What is the point of this unnecessary spending when they are perfectly usable (also food-grade and BPA-free might I add).

7. We avoid buying plastic toys for Aiza (wood is preferred) and other unnecessary household items, unless absolutely needed (like shower wipers). 

8. I re-use all packaging and wrappers sent to me via PR packages. Bubble-wrap, tissue and ribbons to pack gifts for friends/family and boxes to store things or sometimes for Aiza's play. 

9. We do not buy plastic water bottles. We re-use the ones we’ve bought years ago. An orange juice bottle we bought in Amsterdam 2 years ago is still my workout water bottle (orange cap bottle in picture 1). Re-using same bottle prevents us from buying more plastic bottles. I do own an insulated steel water bottle (sent by a brand) but I find it heavier to carry around. Old plastic water bottles serve me well. Specially the coke and sprite ones in small sizes are perfect to fit in nappy bag. I’m breastfeeding and hence forever thirsty, so having a little bottle of water for myself in nappy bag saves me from any impulse drink purchases.

10. Menstrual Cup- It’s the single most important switch a woman can make to curb our waste. Did you know on average a woman produces 125 kg of waste over her lifetime due to menstrual products? One pad doesn't disintegrate for more than 300 years! Our planet suffers for our convenience. 

I haven’t got my period yet after childbirth but whenever I do, I’m prepared. I made the switch from pads to menstrual cup a good few years ago (2014 I think?) and haven’t looked back. Yes it takes time and effort to get it right but it’s so worth it for the sake of environment. In fact, I did an entire blog post on how, what and why’s of menstrual cup back when I made the switch. If you’ve been on the fence to try it out, do read this post for any questions/apprehensions you might have.

11. I grow my own food. I know this is hard and I’ve fallen off the bandwagon lately as well but hand on heart, greens like spinach, chilies, mint, coriander, herbs, spring onion are all grow-and-forget plants. I haven’t grown any this season and they are still in my garden beds. Hence I eat more of them and I never have to buy spinach or salad in a plastic bag. Container gardening isn't hard and not space-consuming either. Growing your own food is a joy. 
Food for thought!

12. We buy quality and resist impulse buying (Need vs Want analysis always playing in my mind). The less we buy the more we re-use what we have. I find cheap stores like Kmart are laden with all kinds of plastic trash, so trips there are best avoided, unless I need to buy something specific. Their marketing is very spot on so I don't blame people when they get sucked into buying things that have absolutely no value or use #JustCute 

13. I buy skincare with biodegradable or recyclable glass packaging. Did you know just 8% of plastic you throw in your recycling bin actually gets recycled? Just 8% !! So even when you are feeling good about diligently sorting out your waste into recycling bin, it doesn’t help the planet much. Skincare and bodycare packaging is the worst. A huge plastic shampoo bottle that's 90% water & some surfactants, thrown out every month to live in landfill forever. 

I love the brand Ethique for this reason. Even the paper packaging outside of their solid shampoo bars is water soluble. 
If you can't access this brand (and lets be honest its not cheap either), consider making small changes like using soaps instead of body wash. Every little bit helps the planet. 

Also, I absolutely avoid products with micro beads (scrubs, toothpastes, etc). They are the worst for marine animals.

14. This year we have consciously made the decision to buy more sustainable fabrics. More of 100% cotton, wool and merino wool. I have a lot of polyester and acrylic in my wardrobe. They will stay and will be worn, but going forward the emphasis is on natural fibers.

Did you know the ubiquitous polyester that we wear gets absorbed into our skin too, possibly causing hormone disruption and other diseases? Seriously check the make-up of clothes you are wearing right now! What do you see? Polyester,  Acrylic, Lycra, Spandex? or Cotton, Wool?

All of Aiza’s clothes are proudly natural materials. We haven’t bought any polyester for her, even though I’d admit to using a few items that were gifted and were not fully natural. We are not perfect and I'd rather use something that was gifted to us, than going out to buy something new. 

15. European culture revolves around walking and bikes, where as our culture is so dependent on automobiles. Specially in NZ, we are going deeper and deeper into car culture (lack of good public transport is also to blame). When possible, in my bid to save environment, my petrol costs and my health, I walk. If I have time, the weather is conducive and the place is within 20-30 minutes I’d pick my legs over car.

There’s many more little things I’m mindful of like using a hand dryer instead of paper towels after washing hands at public restroom. All these are small steps that contribute to the bigger picture.

There are also things on my list that I need to implement asap. Hence, this month is the perfect opportunity to take such initiatives. I want to try reusable nappies for Aiza (Any suggestions on brands that will work as good as disposables? I’ve heard about  Super Bottoms from India). I’d also like to stop using those plastic bags on a roll in supermarket that you use to pack in your 5 mandarins and 4 apples separately. I have to remember to carry small bags into supermarket for this purpose.

I have just bought Agreena 3-in-1 wrap so I don’t have to buy baking paper, cling wrap and aluminium foil again. This one guy does all 3 jobs. 

As mentioned before, we are working on not buying anymore of polyester fabric. Only natural fabrics in our family from now on. However, I am not going to throw out anything that I currently own for the sake of plastic disposal. I have been a minimalist this past year and will continue to purchase mindfully. 

My biggest job is be consistent in my efforts and keep instilling these habits in my daughter as well. We have to leave a better planet for our children and also teach them the green ways from the very start. 

Additionally, never ever shy away from a quick comment when you witness someone trashing the environment. Our planet needs more of those who speak up. I’m doing my part via this blog. You could do it by sharing this post with others or better yet, tweak your ways a little and be an example. Actions speak louder than words!


P.S. In the picture

- PR Packaging being utilised to pack another parcel
- Vegan and Beeswax wraps used instead of cling wrap to cover food items
- Takeaway containers being used to store food in the fridge
- Steel straws instead of plastic
- Peanut butter glass jars used to store chutneys
- Tomato sauce bought in bulk and transferred to this red ketchup bottle from 5 years ago
- My workout water bottle is the orange juice bottle from Amsterdam from 2 years ago (orange cap)
- Agreena 3-in-1 food wrap, which can replace cling wrap, Baking paper and aluminium foil.
- Red sistema container used to store cut fruit in fridge, instead of wrapping fruit in cling wrap.

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