[WEEK 1] Our Plastic Free July shortcomings, failures and lessons learnt!

It has been a week and I think all of us at 1 Million Women can say that we have failed to be completely plastic free. But that's okay, it's all a learning process.

Like the hair on your skin, plastic is everywhere!

If you read our post from last week, you'll know that the 1 Million Women team is taking the Plastic Free July challenge and cutting out all the plastic from our lives for a whole month (or trying very hard).

Here's updates from the team after the first week...

Shea Hogarth (Me, again) - Staff Writer and Site producer

Alright.. lets be completely honest here, I didn't have much faith in myself to begin with. I have definitely been trying to be plastic free, and completely avoid it when I can. I have been asking establishments to please not give me certain things because they have plastic. There's no way I have gotten a plastic bag or bottle and I have avoided take away containers completely.

But my downfall is drinking. I like beer, it's a well known fact and not something I am going to hide. Unfortunately this is where everything goes wrong, and for a few reasons. Firstly, the beer itself has plastic in the bottle cap and secondly, after the act of buying the beer I then proceed to drink the beer and as we all know personal convictions go out the window and subsequently so does plastic free july.

Saturday night was a challenge when I had to decide whether to go for the cans of beer, which were $10 for a six pack or for the bottles. Clearly the bottles had less plastic, but in the end I decided it was much of a muchness and I went for the cans (I'm strapped for cash).

A partiality to beer and inadequate funds led to my shortcomings.

Stephanie Newman - Social Media Intern

Plastic is making me feel not-so-fantastic. Never before have I been so aware of how this annoying substance sneaks its way into every single part of my life!

I must admit that I failed pretty much on Day 1 when I took some medication. Blister packs (made of plastic and aluminium) are a seemingly unavoidable plastic. If you're on any kind of prescription, it's hard to be totally plastic free. The good folk over at Zero Waste Home had these tips for reducing plastic in your medicine cupboard:

•Take expired medication to the pharmacy and try to keep only a minimal supply at home

•Try to choose tablets that come in a glass or other recyclable jar, as opposed to individually packaged tablets. This isn't possible with every type of medicine, but most vitamins can be found packaged this way.

•Pick brands that have the least amount of excess packaging where possible

Ayla Wilton - Grassroots Leadership Coordinator

This week did not go well. On the very first day of my plastic-free efforts, the arrival of my online shopping order marked the first of a few hiccups. Packaging for online orders was something I hadn't even thought of but my eco-conscious, recycled cardboard business cards were double wrapped in plastic and another order was full bubble wrap! I'm still not sure how to overcome this one, other than avoiding shopping online altogether or asking the sender not to worry about packing it up to this extent, which could be risky depending on what you have coming.

The second was a tricky situation with a long car trip and a nasty headache. Although I tried to strategically avoid this by asking a friend to purchase the painkillers and bottled of water for me, I don't think that counts. Similarly, taking something out of its original plastic packaging and using something else definitely defeats the purpose of Plastic Free July (I may have decanted some fresh juice into a glass to make myself feel better).

Let's call this week a warm-up and I'll be much stronger from here on in! Promise.

Babs Dick - Operations Manager

Plastic Free July is going very well for me so far. It's been harder than I thought to detect hidden plastic in everyday items, like the lid of my favourite soy milk, but I have managed to be very good so far, and almost every plastic was recycled.

My first challenge was when we went to the movies and everyone was eating plastic-covered lollies and soft drinks in the room. But I stayed strong, I had brought some homemade vegan brownies with me in a reusable container, and ended up buying a banana and a bread roll at the supermarket before the movie as I didn't have time for dinner. That went really well and no plastic was harmed in the watching of the film!

My second challenge was to go for my weekly grocery run at the supermarket, as I didn't get the chance to visit a farmers market or a packaging-free store yet. It was tougher than expected but me and my partner did our best. We mainly bought fresh food and we are vegetarians so that makes it easier. For the fruit and veggies that needed wrapping, I used those brown paper bags (available near the mushrooms), avoided buying carrots as they were only sold in plastic bags, bought some fresh bread and things in tins and jars what didn't have any plastic packaging. The only plastic that ended up in our bin was from buying a block of cheddar and toilet paper (they weren't any other options…!) I could go without cheese but not without toilet paper.

My tip for this week is that you need to plan ahead, get a larger handbag in which you carry your lunch in a reusable container, your KeepCup, your reusable straw (or just don't use a straw, I'm sure they used to manage without before they were invented), your reusable water bottle and a couple of foldable shopping bags… this really makes plastic-free life a lot easier.

Bronte Hogarth - Head of Communications

Ok first week over...Phew! and I'm already seeing my behaviour has changed in small ways. I have completely avoided any kinds of pre-packaged snacks or sweets, unless I made them myself. There were times during the week where I was feeling like grabbing a chocolate or muesli bar, but it was pretty easy to just ignore the urge! This week, I have made muesli bars at home in bulk to take with me to work to snack on throughout the week. I'm feeling happy about being more prepared and organised (and I really hope I can keep it up!).

I did have one little hiccup last week, something which may have stumped other people in their first week too. Chewing gum!

Who knew most chewing gum is actually made from plastic!! I certainly did not. I had a few pieces left in my bag from before PFJ started and popped one in my mouth completely unaware until the lovely Babs (our Office Manager) enlightened me.

It's hard to know exactly which brands of gum are made from plastic, but if the label lists "gum base" as an ingredient, it may contain "petroleum, lanolin, glycerin, polyethylene, polyvinyl acetate, petroleum wax, stearic acid, or latex," according to My Plastic Free Life. So, best to avoid gum altogether. Hope everyone else has been going well! I have loved the tips that have been shared with the 1MW community over the past week, it has been really helpful for me so keep them coming.

Shannyn Warren - Staff Writing Intern

The first week of PFJ was definitely a challenge. It was an inconvenient week to say the least, but it was interesting. It actually created some positive changes in my lifestyle habits. The first is that I've saved money. All those times I forgot my keep cup or craved a snack, I thought 'No. No plastic,' and went without.

What's more is that PFJ has made me healthier. On a trip to the supermarket, the perimeter of the store or the health food aisle is really the only plastic-free area, so I've been eating mostly whole foods. The top lesson I've learnt from PFJ so far – Plan ahead, or be prepared to go without. This means remembering to bring canvas or brown paper bags shopping, and take keep cups on trips past aroma-alluring cafes.

READ THIS NEXT: How to throw a plastic-free morning tea

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Shea Hogarth Former International Correspondent Suggest an article Send us an email

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