Thinking green, by Caitlin

Thoughts and ideas on environmental topics from Caitlin Howlett, editor of Green Lifestyle.

Doing Plastic Free July

Plastic Free July

Green Lifestyle's editor, Caitlin Howlett, takes on a big challenge – Plastic Free July.

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I've got my reusable cutlery, vegie bags, calico shopping bags, and glass straws, and I'm ready for one of the biggest challenges yet – Plastic Free July, where I'll avoid single-use plastic.

I've managed to rid my home of Glad Wrap, plastic shopping bags, zip-lock bags, straws, etc. for a few years now, but I'm going all-out this time: I'm going to try not to use any plastic only once.

I'm under no illusions of just how difficult this will be, so I'm going to set achievable targets and be just a little bit flexible. I'm going to avoid buying any plastic in the first place, but if I really can't find an alternative, I'll have to find a way to reuse the container/plastic I've bought at least once before recycling.

I'll be wearing a wooden Plastic Free July badge of honour to help me while I'm out and about. I'm hoping it will help me to explain to others what I'm doing; for example, if I'm out at a bar or restaurant, I can ask the staff to remember that the person with the badge doesn't want a straw in their drink. (See below for your chance to win one, or perhaps you can make your own.)

Some of the actions that are really going to get me out of my comfort zone include these:

- Take a resusable container to the deli (so they don't give me plastic bags).
- Reuse any milk bottles, or try to find milk in glass bottles. This will be a tough one!
- Make my own yoghurt to avoid buying the tub (or at least find a way to reuse it).
- Bake my own bread to avoid the wrapper (or take a cloth bag to the bakery).
- Trying some different cosmetics, haircare and cleaning products.
- Line the bin with cornstarch bags, or old newspapers (yes, even some so-called 'biodegradable' bin liners are actually made from plastic).
- Remember to request NO STRAW if I'm out (I always do this, but sometimes I get one anyway, so I'm hoping my 'badge of honour' will help).
- Collecting any soft plastic packaging, like my work colleague Lesley did here.

So this is my plan of action, but I'm sure I'll find more problems to solve along the way. While you can stay tuned this month for all the trials and tribulations as I blog about the experience of doing Plastic Free July, I encourage you to also give it a go!

If refusing all single-use plastic sounds too daunting for the whole month, just try doing it for a day, or a week. You can also try what's known as the Top Four Challenge, where you avoid straws, plastic bags, plastic bottles and coffee cup lids.

Like Green Lifestyle on Facebook, and sign up to our weekly e-newsletter to get regular green updates that will help you on your journey. Plus, we'll be offering great green prizes throughout the month – to start, we've got 10 Plastic Free July badges to giveaway; for your chance to win, click here and tell us your best tip to avoid plastic.