Going plastic-free might seem like an impossible challenge but tearing yourself away can open a whole new world of produce, products and people!
Plastic is an ever-present force in our lives, from our youth in plastic nappies, to our cling-wrapped school sandwiches, to our morning coffees consumed through a plastic lid. Plastic-free July challenges us to kick our life-long habit and give up single-use plastics for a whole month. Sounds difficult/ easy/ fun? It’s all three. Here’s how to prepare and why it’s important.
Why take the challenge?
Plastic-free July is an exercise in reducing; it’s not to say you can never use single-use plastic again. It’s a great way to test your problem-solving skills and challenge yourself to break a bad habit. When August comes around you might keep a handful of your new-found habits and be one step closer to joining the ranks of Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
It’s not breaking news that our environment is having a tough time with plastic waste. What might surprise you though is that these plastics, often in the form of microplastics, are ending up in our body through water, food and even air.
“Humans are being exposed to both plastic particles and chemical additives being released from the plastic debris of consumer society… What started as a marine environmental contamination issue is in fact very much a human health issue as well.”A. Dick Vethaak and Heather A. Leslie, Plastic Debris Is a Human Health Issue, 2016
There are a lot of people working to make changes on a larger scale but if we all do a small part it adds up to make a real difference.
Five tips to go plastic-free
1. Take Tupperware everywhere
Yes, plastic containers are a-ok to use during the challenge. Single use plastic just means you’ll use it once and throw it away. Stash a selection of containers in your everyday bag so you can easily deflect plastic temptation. This is an easy way to avoid a takeaway container for lunch, leftovers or when grocery shopping. Most butchers will also be happy to put your order in a supplied container.
2. No thanks
If there’s no plastic-free alternative, you can sometimes say no. No straw thanks. No bag thanks. No coffee until I’ve run and grabbed my reusable cup thanks. The environment will say thanks to you!
3. Socialise selectively
When choosing a spot to catch up with friends, steer clear of places and events that don’t have sustainability in mind. The best way to find out is to give them a call or skim their social media for signs of sustainable practises. Lots of bars and restaurants are starting to make the switch with straws. The Stag uses pasta straws instead of plastic!
Not all products are created equal. When you can, swap a plastic-clad product for an environmentally friendly counterpart. A simple switch would be instead of using teabags that contain plastic (surprise – a lot of them do!), look for teabags that confirm they are compostable or switch to loose leaf tea.
5. Don’t be fooled
Keep in mind that biodegradable does not mean compostable. For example, compostable bags are made entirely of plant materials and will break down naturally. Biodegradable bags have limitations in how they can break down – if they’re in the ocean or under a pile of rubbish, they will not break down.
Where to buy plastic-less produce in Adelaide
During the challenge you’re likely to find yourself in a plastic-pickle as it’s difficult to source an alternative for some products you buy on autopilot. Here are some of the usual suspects and where you can get a plastic-free version in Adelaide’s market district.
- Grains, rice, nuts
- Pasta and oil
Lucia’s Fine Foods in the Adelaide Central Market sells fresh pasta which you can put directly into your own containers. They also sell olive oil on tap!
- Coffee beans and tea leaves
Kappy’s Tea and Coffee on Compton street near the market, lets you buy exactly the amount of beans and tea leaves you want and will put it in your own container on request.
- Herbs and tofu
Hong Kong Grocery on Moonta street Chinatown sells herbs without plastic – which is surprisingly difficult to find! They also sell tofu in reusable containers.
- Cleaning products
The Honey Shoppe and Soap Box in the Central Market Arcade sells cleaning products that you can pour directly into your own containers. They also carry products without harsh chemicals and of course, honey!
Prepare your eco-toolbelt
It pays to be prepared so stock up on sustainable tools to save you money while you’re saving the earth.
- Reusable produce bags
Leave the roll of disposable plastic bags alone! The House of Health in the Adelaide Central Market sells reusable produce bags for only a few dollars each. If you forget, repurpose a paper mushroom bag.
- Lunchboxes for grown-ups
If you’re carrying soup or a juicy lunch in your bag you might like to use a plastic bag in case of a leak. Save the bags and invest in a lunchbox. Have You Met Charlie in Regent Arcade carries insulated lunchboxes by Kollab.
- Reusable cups
As long as you use a reusable cup more than a dozen or so times, studies have shown it’s better than a disposable cup in terms of energy use. Some cafes even offer a nice discount if you bring your own cup. Relove on Ebenezer Place sells beautiful handmade ceramic cups – lid and all.
- Beeswax wraps
Meet and make your own
You’re not alone on your eco-adventure. Take a workshop with kindred spirits and to learn how to make your own wraps or even a compostable pinata!
Bring us your plastic dilemma to solve session
Tips and tricks on how to live a life less plastic to prepare you for Plastic Free July.
July 3, 6.00pm to 7.00pm, The Joinery, Free, Book
Intro to Zero Waste
Session led by Niki of Almost Zero for easy tips on reducing waste in your home.
July 23, 6.00pm to 7.30pm, Adelaide South West Community Centre, Free, Book
Beeswax Wrap Workshops
Learn how to make your own reusable beeswax wraps to replace cling wrap.
July 8, 6.00pm to 7.30pm, The Joinery, $27.46, Book
July 9, 3.30pm to 4.30pm, South West Community Centre, $12.64, Book
July 12, 5.30pm to 8.00pm, Migration Museum, $40, Book
Fun Kids’ Parties with Less Waste
Great ideas for a sustainable kids’ party and how to make a compostable piñata.
July 11, 5.30pm to 7.00pm, Box Factory Community Centre, $6.36, Book
Produce Bags & Ideas for Reusing Materials
Learn how to sew your own produce bag with upcycled fabric and broken umbrellas.
July 29, 6.00pm to 7.30pm, The Joinery, $6.36, Book
Good luck on your journey and remember it’s ok if you slip up during the challenge. It is hard to make the shift, but each plastic piece avoided will give you peace of mind.
Do you have a favourite plastic-free tip, product or shop in the city? Let us know who supports sustainable shopping in the comments.