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[WEEK 2] Learning the Ups and Downs of Plastic Free Living!

We have run into more obstacles during the second week of plastic free july, however they are all lessons learnt and everyday we are realising that it is actually easier to say no to plastic than you might think.

Once you realise that plastic is everywhere, you also realise that you don't have to give in to it so easily.

That's what we've found after two weeks of our whole team doing the Plastic Free July Challenge. (Have you been following our journey?)

Most of us may live in the 'system,' but we can just as easily work our way around it. Rejecting plastic - such a common and ubiquitous item in our society - is a rebellious act, and one that benefits the soul and raises awareness around the massive issue of unessecarry single-use disposable plastics.

Here's a few things we've been learning about being rebels...

Babs Dick - Operations Manager

My tip for this week: Make your own whenever you can. Make your lunch and snacks in advance and make your own beauty products. It feels very rewarding using or eating homemade products anyway!

Okay, so Plastic-Free July is not as easy as I thought! In order to succeed and be 100% plastic-free, I have decided to lock myself up at home, stop seeing anyone and only feed on fresh fruit, veggies, salads, smoothies and nuts (it actually sounds pretty nice!). Just kidding, I am still really enjoying PFJ and learning how to reduce my plastic consumption and finding alternatives.

Last week was challenging, and I can definitely say I did my best. The first challenge was on my birthday, I was mainly worried I'd get given gifts wrapped in plastic, but luckily my colleagues and friends know me well and I didn't receive any plastic, only packed in jars, paper bags and cardboard. The only faux pas happened when we were out at dinner and my partner went to get some wine from the local bottle shop and came back with a plastic bag!

We also went camping at the weekend, so to minimise plastic, I just prepared some food at home to take away with us: a large fresh salad, some potato cakes, guacamole, corns on the cob (the ones with the skins on and not plastic!)… We noticed that the things that came in plastic were mainly processed food like veggie burgers, halloumi, chips, biscuits… so we only bought what we really needed. The only incident was when my friends decided to start an art competition consisting of transforming plastic plates into bowls and vases by melting them on the fire… there was nothing I could do to stop them!

Apart from that, I am loving my plastic-free alternatives: I have been using a lot of jars, my 1 Million Women KeepCup, a large canvas bag, a solid shampoo and toothy tabs (solid toothpaste tabs packed in small cardboard boxes, they're great) from Lush, homemade bicarb soda and coconut deodorant (check out Paulin's recipe here), homemade cacao body scrub (recipe here, you've got to try it out!), and I am planning to attempt to make my own bath bombs in the next couple of weeks, I will let you know how that goes!

Ayla Wilton - Grassroots Coordinator

My tip for this week: Try where you can to use your dollar to vote for companies/brands reducing their own use of unnecessary single-use plastic.

Although I wouldn't call this week an absolute success, I'm definitely getting better at living plastic-free. There are certain things that I've been able to eliminate completely and my will power to avoid plastic is definitely improving!The main challenge has been getting caught off guard at certain times and feeling as though you have no option but to purchase something plastic.

This is predominantly an industry issue, as absolutely everything (unnecessarily) either contains or is packaged in some sort of plastic. For things like coffee, it's easy enough to take the time to eat/ drink in or hold off completely. However, for things like batteries, tampons and so on, it can be a little trickier. It's also a vicious cycle, as long as we continue to support these items and companies supplying our goods in this way, they have no need to change. We are all aware of our consumer power, but how do we use our dollar to vote if there are no options that align with our personal ethics and wants?

Keep an eye out for our blog post on hidden and unexpected plastics, which will definitely help to eliminate certain 'unavoidable' for good! Good luck for week three everyone!

Stephanie Newman - Social Media Intern

My tip for this week: Try to reduce even just one single-use plastic from your life to start with, be it cling wrap, plastic bags or single-use plastic cutlery.

Week 2 and I'm certainly much more aware than I've ever been about plastic, not only in my life but also just everywhere around me.Walking through a food court I'm shocked at all the plastic containers, single-use cutlery and plastic bags. Some of these lunches have more plastic in them than food!

I forgot my green bag at the supermarket, so I just carried my vegetables home in my arms! While this attracted some stares, it helped to remind me of how irresponsible consumption of things like plastic bags have become an almost unconscious part of everyday life.

Whether you're doing PFJ or not, I urge you to consider the plastic clogging up your life and try to reduce just one single-use plastic from your life, be it cling wrap, plastic bags or single-use plastic cutlery.

Bronte Hogarth - Head of Communications

My tip for this week: Planning ahead (especially when it comes to food shopping) is very important if you truly want to eliminate plastic from your life.

I think I was lured into a false sense of ease after my 'good' first week of PFJ. Cutting out all the major and most obvious sources of plastic in my life (like coffee cup lids), has been easy. It's the unexpected plastics that you don't plan for which are the problem.

Last week, two close friends both celebrated their birthdays. I decided to make homemade sweets as a present for each of them (instead of buying something that might come with the extra and unwanted gift of plastic). Well, easier said that done! I'm known for leaving things to the last minute, and characteristically, I left making the treats to the ultimo minuto! Two of the crucial ingredients I needed, I could only find wrapped in plastic packaging at my local supermarket.

If only I had been more organised at the start of the week, and bought all the ingredients earlier, I definitely could have avoided this. Oh and a nasty plastic straw made its way into one of my drinks last week too! I actually didn't realise, I think we're so accustomed them, that I didn't even see it going in! What I have learnt this week is that if you don't plan and pay attention, plastic will make it's way into your life.

Shannyn Warren - Staff Writing Intern

My tip for this week: Encourage your friends and family to support your plastic free goals too.

Plastic free July is getting easier for me but more difficult (and annoying) for the people around me. Everyone keeps forgetting that July is 'plastic free'… a few too many times this past week friends have bought me things in plastic… which is kind of awkward. I almost felt like not accepting whatever it was they got me. One friend got me a block of loving earth chocolate (uh, yum!) and greatest friend ever – except that the chocolate is wrapped in plastic. 'No!' I thought, 'why can't you just wrap your chocolate in aluminium like everyone else!' Then my mum went and bought me dates from the super market. I would have taken a brown paper bag if I went, but my mum forgot and put the dates into a plastic bag. Another mishap!

I think the biggest lesson I've learnt this week is to be forgiving of others if they forget you're trying Plastic Free July. It is so easy to slip up, if almost feels inevitable! Next week I'll aim to give my friends more subtle reminders of all of the negative consequences plastic has for our planet.

Nathalie Laurence - Guest Blogger

My tip for this week: Buying what you can in bulk will reduce the plastic in your life.

This is my third year doing PFJ, so I've already been able to make some positive changes to my habits. However, because I live in a fairly remote location in the faraway north, going completely plastic free can be insanely difficult.

Choice is limited, and the cost of the plastic-free options can be outrageously high, if it exists at all.

Despite that, some of the long-term changes I've made include buying what I can in bulk (cleaning products and dry goods such as flour, grains, nuts, spices) – though it can be pricey as only one store in town sells these things. I buy soap, shampoo and hair conditioner in blocks (yes, you can get shampoo and conditioner soap bars, they're fantastic and free of lots of nasty chemicals too!) My fruit and veg is sourced from the markets and I try and remember to take my own container to the butcher. My handbag includes a stainless steel water bottle, portable cutlery set and carry bag and although I'm not much of a takeaway drinks person I'm pretty militant about avoiding lids or straws when I get drinks from a juice-bar or pub.

My main downfalls are milk (though I make my own yoghurt from it also), cheese (I can get it upwrapped from a couple of delis but it's really expensive) the plastic in jar lids and bottle tops (no, I'm single and 40 – I'm not giving up my wine... worth mentioning here that there several chocolate block brands packaged in paper and foil, and that I know them all), frozen berries (my not so secret addiction) and dogfood. I've also not yet tackled the dark arts of DIY toothpaste and mascara yet but I think I'm doing ok all things considered…although I could really go for a berry smoothie right now!

[Header Image via Shutterstock]

READ THIS NEXT: [IN PICTURES] This is what a plastic free brunch looks like

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