Goodbye plastic - photo by Steinar Engeland (Unsplash)

One month, no plastic

For July I have joined an experiment to refuse single-use plastic. The amount of plastic that we produce and then throw away after few minutes of use is clearly not sustainable. I’m excited to join the campaign because plastic is so ubiquitous that it borders the invisible. Plastic permeate every part of my life, but clearly it’s unsustainable and has to change.

I often take plastic for granted without considering where it came from or where
it will end up. In a day, I get in contact with so many different plastics, it’s part of my phone, it’s wrapped around the bananas I bought, it makes the shelves in the fridge, the washing up bowl, the washing machine. Every element is made of plastic, wrapped in plastic or mixed with plastic.

The challenge this month is therefore to notice and reduce the amount of plastic I use.  My experiment is based on the Australian campaign Plastic Free July. I will refuse any single-use plastics, so that’s the plastic lids on take-away coffee, straws, plastic cutlery, plastic bags and bottled water and soft drinks. These should be the easy targets and I’m already doing a lot to avoid these plastics.

Plastic markets
But the trickier part is avoiding plastic bags wrapped around vegetables, fruit and food. For some reason, it’s become the standard to wrap everything we eat in plastic. When I went to the supermarket today, it was incredibly difficult find anything not hidden behind a synthethic transparent window of plastic. There are some vegetables such as aubergines, carrots, onion and mushrooms that I can buy loose, but pretty much anything else embalmed in plastic.

Usually the counter-argument is that vegetables are preserved better in plastic bags and I think fruit such as bananas probably last longer in plastic bags, but why can’t the bag be bio-degradable then?

What I realised from shooping today, is that it’s near impossible avoiding plastics if you shop in a supermarket. I will need to find new places to source my food if I want to avoid plastics.

There’s a local grocery store where I can buy loose (and organic) vegetables, but they’re often much more expensive, so it paradoxically comes with a premium to have a smaller impact on the planet. But there’s also a local deli, where I’ve already been buying loose oats and they sell nuts, muesli, pasta etc without packaging. I’ll probably be going there a lot more for July.

It will take require visiting farmer’s markets, home-baking and new solutions to avoid plastics, but I can already see that it’s a good exercise to become aware of our growing plastic consumption/addiction.

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