Plastic Free July is here for 2020. If you’ve never heard about it, it’s a global movement to encourage us to move away from using single use plastic in our daily lives towards a more sustainable future for all. It started in 2011 in Perth, Western Australia. It’s a great opportunity to try, just for a month, to create a new habit. People need 21 days for a new habit to form, so as long as you start by 10 July, you have a good chance of succeeding!
I started my journey with Plastic Free July 5-6 years ago and it was a great gradual way to start to reduce the plastic in my life. It’s hard to switch over 100% overnight. Just try one thing this month or more if you’re ambitious. The habits I changed into over the years, have actually translated to what I pack for when I travel, they are reusables, portable and very handy! If you’re a numbers person, there are stats on the impact of different actions.
Travel Bunny is posting free weekly tips on Wednesdays how you could start your plastic free journey!
Tip #1: Buy in bulk and BYO containers.
If you don’t know where to start, do a quick internet search for ‘whole foods’ or ‘bulk foods’ to find your nearest local. For some examples, see below – note: I am not affiliated with any of the below stores, they are just ones I have frequented or discovered in my travels:
Naked Foods (Started in Sydney, they do 20% off purchases on 1st Monday of the month, which is this coming Monday!)
The Source, in Australia, NZ, Ireland, UK and Singapore.
Green Valley Spices, Sydney – spices, nuts and teas where they accept you bringing your own container.
GoodFor, NZ only. Even has a tap for real Canadian Maple Syrup for you to BYO bottle and refill!
Flannery’s, Australia – QLD & NSW only
Whole Foods Market, USA primarily, owned by Amazon. There are smaller local ones, depending on where you live.
Bulk Market, UK only, Hackney store was cute and sold Who Gives a Crap toilet paper!
During the COVID lockdown period, some of these stores may have been closed or experimenting with different hygiene protocols. For now, they remain open and still are a great option for purchasing your staples, oils, nuts and even soaps!
If you don’t have any containers to use, most of these places supply paper bags for you fill up. Some of them have jars for purchase or available from previous customers (sharing economy!). Either way, it’s single use plastic free. I reuse bottles and containers from other food purchases like from oils, yoghurt or plastic takeaway containers. I just clean them out and reuse rather than put in recycling. I don’t buy any special containers if I don’t need to.
- Portion control. I can buy just what I need, I’m not restrained to purchase prepackaged food, which might be too much or too little for a single person like me. Shop your way!
- Better quality. Often the product is better quality and the food generally has a high turnover, so to me is ‘fresher’. Products in these places are traceable, they tell you where they come from. Also as they are smaller retailers, you can usually develop a lovely relationship with them.
- Variety of products. Usually there’s much more variety and interesting food I can get in these places. Like tapioca flour, goji berries, organic dried apricots (so much better than the supermarket ones!!). Also soaps, shampoos and non-food products available too!
- Plastic free packaging. I love this. No need to put excess single use packaging into recycling bins or soft plastic recycling (Redcycle in Australia). Feels so awesome to go plastic free. ❤️
1. Cost. It can be more expensive, price per quantity equation. Most of these places the food is organic, which attracts a higher price per quantity due to the production methods etc. To me it’s important the quality of food I put into my body, as it effects everything. Being able to buy the quantity I want can end up in an overall price reduction and food waste elimination. Also stops me from spending money on unhealthy prepackaged food in supermarkets.
2. Convenience. I can’t say it’s super easy to cart around a backpack full of containers and jars to go do my monthly shop of staples. Making sure they are clean and that I have enough containers for what I want to get (there’s always paper bags for anything extra I fancy). The shops aren’t located in a place convenient to where I live, but for me it’s worth the travel and carting around of containers.
3. Planning ahead. It does force me to plan ahead and think what do I want to eat for the next weeks/month. Due to the shops not being so convenient for me. This also helps make sure I eat healthy and not go for the cheap and easy snacks at the supermarket that are wrapped in plastic etc. Also their shop hours are not likely to be 24 hours or as extended as supermarkets, so definitely need to plan!
To me the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Understandably this may not be a great option for those with families. However I have seen parents with their babies in a baby carrier strapped to them or with prams, shopping in these places.
When travelling, it was a great way for me to get healthy snacks like nuts for my train trips and days out. 🚞 Portion size was critical here as some food you can’t take across borders!
Why not try it this month?
Let me know about your experience or where your local is, once you’ve tried it once or twice. Would love to hear from you! ☺️
Happy Plastic Free July 2020!