July is over, and what a month it was! I have never known England to be so hot for so long! My garden flourished (even though the grass turned golden) and my family started getting together to go on bicycle rides at the weekends – including my 2 year old neice who would shout encouragements and sing her favourite song at the moment (right now its Frere Jacques).
But the weather couldn’t last forever and with the start of August the rain returned, the grass and some of the less heat resilient plants are recovering, the green beans are providing me with mountains of beans and the tomatoes are providing me with abundance of glorious ruby fruits.
I also did something that I have been wanting to do for years! I went strawberry picking! It was great fun, and you can take your own containers which is great.
I actually went back a couple of times, and also picked cherries, blackcurrents and raspberries. It is a perfect way to spend a couple of hours when the weather is good! The kids love it, and you only pay for what you pick – so it doesn’t have to cost a lot (although it is easy to get carried away)
At the beginning of July, I set myself the task of trying to go plastic free – which was mainly concentrating on single use plastics, and non recyclable plastics. Before I started I did a little research to find alternative product options and get an idea of areas I might have issues, you can read my introduction here.
Right from the start, there were a few items I struggled with! Pasta and rice being the main culprit! I did a lot of investigations into places I could go to buy these items, and I found plenty of plastic free shops – unfortunately, the closest was over an hour away for me which logistically wasn’t a good option. Instead I tried to reduce how often I had pasta on the menu and in the case of rice, I swapped out the boil in the bag variety back to the loose grain. I was still not able to completely remove plastic but I plan to continue researching possible solutions, including maybe ordering in from bulk stores.
I also had problems when buying meat, although Morrisons (my closest supermarket) have started advertising that they are reducing their plastic, I often found they only had things on the shelf – pre wrapped – or their staff was unsure on the exact guidelines they had to follow, one colleague even opening mocked people who didnt want to use plastic, and stated there was ‘no point and it was a waste of time’ – despite the fact I was infact asking to use my own container at that point. I came across the same issue when trying to purchase produce. Morrisons certainly has the right idea, I just think it is still very early days for them. Farmers markets were great – but when working 9-5 monday to friday, they weren’t the easiest to get to, and when caught off guard or lack of preperation meant that I often had to make do with supermarket produce.
I had better luck away from the supermarket and fresh foods; making the move to soapnuts, a shampoo bar and a soap bar instead of the single use products I was previously using.
My experience with soapnuts are; Clothes arn’t smelling as floral, however I have read that you can add a few drops of things like lavender essense to improve this. One thing i love about them is that once they have stopped being useful for washing, I can add them to my compost bin / veg patch!
My shampoo bar: One thing I am really pleased with since making this change is that unlike when using liquid shampoo, I now don’t feel the need to use conditioner! Before I would have to spend hours carefully brushing my hair if conditioner hadn’t been used, having curly/wavy hair I assumed this would always be the case but was pleasently suprised when I tried the shampoo bar sans conditioner bar I had no problems at all! The one I bought was from LUSH, but now that I have been converted I am planning on looking around for other providers to see what other options are available.
Bar soap: Similar to my assumptions with the shampoo bar, I have always assumed that a bar of soap would dry my skin out, and be a real pain to use, but when thinking more about the soap I wanted, and not just buying the first one I saw I found a lovely natural soap in a TK Max. I’ve never been a big fan of this store, where i have often felt pretty claustrophobic when looking at clothes but when I wondered over to the beauty section (avoiding the clothes rails completely) I have have a treasure trove of products, and hidden among them are often a lot of natural based products, often in glass or paper instead of plastic!
Not all beauty changes were as successful. When I bought the shampoo bar, I also invested in a deohdrent bar, but after using it for a couple of days, I have to admit I was defeated and went and bought my good old faithful branded one. It could be that I just didnt get on with that specific bar, and I am deturmind to give it another go. It might be worth me trying another version as well, either way, I wont give up.
Something I was determind not to do when starting this plasticless adventure was that I wasn’t going to just instantly go out and buy all plastic free (which could be a big chunk of money if bought all at once) My idea was to wait until something ran out, and then when the time came, I would replace it with a more eco friendly version. This is the case of my razor – for years I have bought packs of disposible (the creme de la creme of plastic wastage, I know) and they would last me a long time. But at last I am down to my last one, so the time has come to look at replacing it. I have been looking at the safety razor, doing a bit of research and also keeping an eye out of the cost of them. I think it will be my next investment, so I will let you know how I do.
All in all, the main thing that ‘plastic free July’ did for me was it helped open my eyes to just how much single use plastic is used in todays world, I have removed my consumer tinted glasses off and am making active steps to reduce my plastic use going forward. Changes are happening, one thing at a time. I want to live my life caring for my planet as much as I can. There is only this one after all.
If you have any advise regarding anything Ive mentioned here please feel free to message me, or comment below. I would love to hear about your own experiences and discoveries.
Thanks for reading!