Is Plastic Free July a Privilege?
It’s that time of year again…we’ll be venturing into Tescos with one goal: to avoid buying items with excess plastic packaging. Plastic-free July is a great time to reevaluate your plastic usage and consider areas in which you could limit it - but as we acknowledged in our How to Live Sustainably on a Budget article (shameless plug), sustainable alternatives are often expensive.
Whilst scientists and designers are discovering ways to manufacture things without plastic - the time it takes and the premium materials required aren’t cheap. We aren’t bashing the price tag of eco-friendly products, we support workers being paid a healthy wage for their hard work and dedication - but the lack of accessibility to sustainable alternatives can’t be ignored. It leads us to question whether it’s a privilege to be able to go plastic-free this month. Let’s break down the barriers to plastic-free July and the factors that make it inaccessible.
Why is plastic-free July a privilege?
We suspect a large amount of the population would be more sustainable if they could finance it (manifesting the days when we can afford to do a weekly shop in a zero-waste store). Still, not everyone has the time to seek sustainable alternatives or travel to local farm shops - let alone the budget to buy items when they arrive. The price and effort to obtain plastic-free alternatives is what prevents the masses from taking part.
But, if you’re committed to being sustainable where you can - plastic-free July isn’t impossible.
Sometimes, plastic-free options are cheaper (yay) so there’s no excuse not to make an effort where possible. We’ve broken down different areas of the home and how you can limit your plastic intake for less.
Tote / Foldable Bag
Avoiding buying plastic bags is one of the easiest ways to reduce your plastic consumption. We’ve all been there when you’re carrying home an armful of shopping because you forgot your tote and refuse to pay 10p for a plastic bag. Never get caught out again and slip a tote bag or small fold-up bag into your everyday carry-on to make sure you’re always prepared. If you have way too many tote bags like us (I swear they come out of nowhere) why not give one to a friend to spread the plastic-free love this month?
Now that it’s summer, the ice lattes are on tap baby. It can be super easy to lose track of how much single-use plastic you’re buying when you don’t include coffee cups. So many coffee shops give you a plastic cup even if you’re drinking in. Take a reusable one with you to Starbucks, Pret, or M&S coffee and get a small discount on your order! Caffe Nero offers two stamps per order on loyalty cards when you bring your own cup, giving you plenty of incentive to bring your own. You could also consider investing in reusable cutlery for eating on the go. It really does add up, especially when you think about the fact that every plastic fork you’ve ever used is still on earth.
Loose Fruit & Veg
The cheapest things in the supermarket are loose fruit and vegetables. You can buy enough to make multiple portions of curry, chilli, bolognese, dhal, salad - the list goes on - for less than £3. This month, make an effort to avoid plastic packaging when buying veg - it’s super easy when you make the switch. It might be less convenient if you’re used to the pre-chopped bags of vegetables - but cutting them up yourself really isn’t that much effort and you’re helping the planet. As for plastic-wrapped broccoli or carrots, most supermarkets have an option to buy them naked - wash it at home and you’ll never know the difference.
Legumes & Pulses
Similar to fruit and veg, lentils and beans are some of the cheapest items in the supermarket and they come in plastic-free packaging that can be easily recycled. They make a great base for hundreds of meals and they are an excellent source of plant-based protein - need we say more? This month, if you usually reach for a pizza or ready meal - consider this tasty plastic-free alternative.
Try Making Your Own
Why not try making your own dips this summer? Hummus is the greatest thing to grace the earth, but sadly she comes in a plastic tub. This month, as we said, we’re going the extra mile - so we’ll be making our own hummus to avoid plastic packaging. Get some friends over, make a variety of dips and have a picnic! Some of our favourite homemade dips include:
It’s fun to cook with friends and homemade food always has a wholesome taste that you can’t find in stores. Give one of these a try and we promise you’ll be surprised at how good it tastes (hi Nigella Lawson, how are ya?).
Clean Up Your Act
For those without a dishwasher, be mindful of over-purchasing sponges, cleaning products, and washing up brushes. If you need to spend some extra pounds on better quality cleaning utensils, it might be worth it. It’s very easy to buy the cheapest ones and find them breaking every few weeks and needing to invest in more. It doesn’t seem like much, but sponges and washing capsules are made of plastic and when purchased on a mass scale (unnecessarily), the damage adds up.
Smol Cleaning Products
If you’re looking for affordable and plastic-free cleaning products and washing-up tablets, Smol has a variety to choose from. You can start a free trial for just £1 and receive a selection of products of your choice.
Stay Squeeky Clean
If you’re not in the position to purchase a shampoo or conditioner bar - a bar of soap is the cheapest of all three and easy to find in supermarkets and pharmacies. Swapping from shower gel to a bar of soap is an easy switch and it really does make a difference in the long run. If you use a shower puff, the soap will lather just as much as shower gel.
Reusable Makeup Pads
If you haven’t already - reusable makeup pads are another affordable and easy switch. Since becoming more mainstream, Garnier has started selling them in Superdrug and Boots, so you can pop in and grab them easily. Or, do a simple search on Etsy and find hundreds of results in seconds. Not only does this reduce plastic waste, it also saves you money in the long run - no more buying cotton rounds. As well as that, the reusable makeup pads are far more effective at removing makeup. We honestly can’t think of a con.
Okay…hear us out. Moon Cups are kind of terrifying before you try them but this one-time purchase will save so much plastic waste in the long run. We didn’t ask for periods - but since they aren’t going anywhere we might as well be as ethical as we can. People who menstruate will know the amount of waste that comes with a monthly cycle - and how annoying it is having to pay for period products when it’s a biological function you can’t help. Tampons produce a plethora of plastic waste, so Moon Cups are a great investment, reducing waste and saving you money. You won’t regret making the switch.
How many products do you use on your skin? Reconsider what you actually need and think about slimming down your routine. The more products you buy, the more plastic waste. Most of us could definitely afford to buy fewer skincare products which would have a positive impact on the planet. Even if the packaging is recyclable, a lot of the time if the liquid is left in the container, the item will end up in landfill. If you can’t part with your beauty regime take the time to wash out your beauty products before recycling them.
That's all from us besties, please do slide into our DMs @whering__ if you think we missed something obvious (we won't bite).