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Plastic free July: a month without single-use plastic

Our household is about to commence a month of living without single-use plastic. We’ve signed up for the Plastic Free July challenge. Anything that's plastic and intended only to be used once and then sent to landfill we’ll refuse.

Join thousands of people from around the world and sign up at plasticfreejuly.org. If refusing all single-use plastic sounds too daunting, you can try the TOP 4 challenge – avoiding straws, plastic bags, plastic bottles and coffee cup lids. You can also choose how long you participate – a day, a week, a month or longer.

Given that plastic is so pervasive in our lives it’s going to be a tough challenge and I imagine there’ll be moments I fail. The idea is to collect any unavoidable plastic bought and share it with other participants at the end of the challenge. A bit like airing your dirty laundry- but instead sharing your bits of toxic non-degradable plastic.

Re-usable sandwich wraps and containers will make waste-free lunch boxes easy. Tricia Hogbin

I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’ve worked my way through the toolbox provided by plasticfreejuly.org and a useful guide by living plastic free guru Beth Terry. All my plastic-free alternatives to disposables are handy and ready to use - drink bottles, reusable coffee cup, lunch box packaging, and cloth grocery bags.

I’ll also continue shopping in bulk and from the bakery, butcher, greengrocer, farmers market and farm-gate.

My fridge, cupboard, shopping bags and rubbish bin have been audited and problem areas identified. My top three problem plastics are bread bags, milk bottles and yoghurt containers. We’ll shop at a bakery that uses paper bags, provide our own cloth bag or make our own bread. Milk bottles and yoghurt will be tackled by getting back into the habit of collecting raw milk in glass bottles and making yoghurt. I’ll also seek out milk sold in glass (e.g. local Hunter brand Udder Farm sells milk in recyclable glass bottles) or cardboard cartons and make a few batches of nut milk.

For me, the biggest challenge is going to be having the courage to speak up at the butcher or baker and ask that they use my reusable container or bag. I imagine they’ll think I’m weird – but I’ll remind myself of my favourite quote “Be the change that you wish to see in the world” and imagine a day when everyone walks into the butcher with a reusable container.

{Originally published in the Newcastle Herald 29 June 2013}

Are you taking the plastic free July challenge too?