How To Do Plastic Free July During A Pandemic
Safe to say, there’s not much that is normal about 2020 thus far, and July is no different. What with everything being sanitised, distanced and wrapped in plastic, you could be forgiven for thinking that doing Plastic Free July might be all too difficult.
I was worried too initially, that I wouldn’t be able to keep up my self-imposed plastic reduction this year, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how easy it has been to maintain.
Don’t believe me? Try these six tips for living with less plastic – pandemic or no pandemic.
1. Opt for cans
Have you noticed the slow but steady transition from aluminium cans to plastic packaging over the last 10 years? You can now buy tuna in a plastic tub for example, and most pet food is sold in plastic sachets. Yet aluminium continues to be the most valuable recycled material and remains in high demand. That is why last year, I vowed to opt for a can wherever possible. It’s an easy and worthwhile switch.
aluminium vs plastic
TIP: always opt can!
2. Get takeaway pizza
A night without cooking and doing dishes is a luxury, and you definitely deserve it on occasion, but hopefully not always at the expense of the earth. A simple way to reduce plastic, or even go plastic-free, is to opt for take-out that comes in recyclable or compostable packaging. Pizza in boxes, paper-wrapped burgers and old-fashioned fish and chips are the perfect way to enjoy a restaurant meal without bumping up your plastic consumption.
In fact, in recent months, many cafes have started serving meals in cardboard containers for this exact reason. It’s so important that we support these businesses – they deserve our patronage. Just make sure you say no to plastic cutlery!
3. Say no to sauce in a sachet
Repeat after me: ‘No sauce thanks’. Those three little words will do wonders to reduce your plastic consumption. But sushi tastes boring without soy sauce I hear you say? I agree! Try one of these tricks: buy a little glass bottle of soy for your desk drawer or car, or (my personal favourite), use the bottle they keep at the counter before you leave.
No sauce thanks!
The same rule applies for a bakery pie. If your bakery only has plastic packets of sauce, politely explain that you are trying to reduce your plastic consumption. You never know, they might be very understanding and think it’s a great idea. Consumers set the standards, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
4. Carry a reusable bag at all times
Supermarkets around the world have made a positive step in no longer offering plastic carry bags for free, however, retail stores are yet to join the party. Most retailers will provide a branded bag that fits within their local state plastic bag ban regulations, meaning it is made of heavier grade plastic. Let’s not fool ourselves though, these are still plastic bags and should be avoided if you can.
Simply carry a reusable bag every time you go out and say no to a bag at every chemist, shoe store, clothing or electronics store you enter. Check out my absolute favourite brand BYO BAG.
5. Skip the lid
Sadly, reusable cups are no longer accepted in most cafes at the moment, making it near impossible to enjoy a latte without single-use plastic.
However there are things you can do to reduce plastic during COVID-19 without giving up your morning latte.
- Limit your coffee intake. If you are a three-cups-a-day person, pull back to two. Curbing your coffee addiction by a single cup per day can save thousands of cups from landfill.
- Skip the lid. When you really think about it, plastic coffee cup lids are not always necessary. Unless you’re jumping straight into the car, juggling five kids and a pram, or planning to sprint home, a lid is not required. #Skipthelid and save the plastic.
- Invest in a coffee machine. This option may sound a little extreme, but the purchase of an AeroPress, french press or espresso maker is a great idea, especially now. I am using my AeroPress now more than ever, and I purchase beans from my local cafes to maintain my support.
6. Boycott the ziplock
You might have noticed that many food producers have added a ziplock to their packaging. Rice, nuts, biscuits and frozen berries can all be bought in an ‘improved’ ziplock bag to ‘maintain freshness’. The way I see it though, is ziplock = more plastic. Boycott the ziplock and opt for an alternative with an old-fashioned low-grade plastic bag and seal it with a clip at home.
Plus, most organisers encourage decanting these days, why would you buy a ziplock bag to empty into a jar when you get home? You wouldn’t. And of course, where you can, buy food in bulk and avoid plastic altogether.
So there you have it, six easy ways to limit your plastic, pandemic or otherwise.