Where do I start the round up of weeks 2, 3 and 4 of Plastic Free July? I’ve written, re-written and deleted this intro for the past five minutes while trying to work out where exactly to start this post. To be honest it takes me back to my uni days when, as an undergrad journalism student, we were taught about the inverted pyramid of writing a new story – and that the first line of an article is normally the last one written.
But back to the point.
I initially intended to do a weekly round up of our efforts this year, however, our experience turned out to be a continuation on a theme i.e. we try our best to avoid single use plastics but find hidden snags everywhere. Much like in 2017 actually.
Then there were the curve balls that continued to come at us from nowhere. A stop off to buy bulk beef jerky for Steve to snack on came with a free, already made flat white in a disposable cup that would be poured out if refused. Sit down lunches at restaurants came with plastic cutlery instead of silverware. Opening our bread bag after a trip to the bakery showed us a plastic bag of bread had been slid into it, rather than the newly cut loaf we had asked for. Everywhere we looked our single use plastic usage kept mounting. It was hard not to get disheartened to be honest, as we kept coming up against things that we don’t normally encounter in our day-to-day living the rest of the year. The eco guilt began to hit hard, and my (our?) mantra became “at least we are trying!” This blog post also helped immensely. Steve likened it as a renewal of our vows – I like that too.
Most surprisingly, one other thing I really noticed this year was a change in the attitudes around us.
When explaining the whys and wherefores of Plastic Free July last year we discovered most people were really curious and supportive, and asked lots of questions about how we were going throughout the month. For the most part this support continued throughout the year as we quietly kept on with our efforts. However, as July 2018 approached and we announced we’d be doing Plastic Free July again, rather than the curiosity I was expecting, this year there were eye rolls and “oh, you’re still doing that” remarks. That was something I definitely didn’t expect, however, it did also allow us the chance to explain our reasons again, so silver lining and all that jazz.
On the very bright side I also immersed myself in the zero waste Brisbane facebook group. It’s here that plastic-free peeps, zero wasters and minimalists all combined in one inspirational place. These inspiring people seemed to rally together throughout the month, cheer each other on in the most fantastic way and offer up as much advice as they could. In fact, whenever I’d start to feel truly downhearted I’d jump onto Instagram and glean some inspiration (or laughs) from these folks. It worked a treat!
Another major source of inspiration were two events I attended during the month. The first was a free op shop fashion and zero waste education talk by Anita Vandyke and Faye Delanty. This was followed up by a talk by Bea Johnson aka the Zero Waste Queen, who is currently doing a world tour talking about her lifestyle. Both are zero wasters, so much more epic than plastic-free, but both so accessible in their approach to changing up your lifestyle. I especially love Anita’s take on zero waste: creating no waste but also not wasting your life, and so being mindful about how you fill your days and the amount of time you spend mindlessly scrolling and staring at a screen. With this in mind, I could add Plastic Free July saw us incorporate this mindfulness a bit more. There were trips to the Bay, to the museum, naps on a picnic blanket in the backyard after a morning spent planting new plant babies, and afternoons spent riding bikes to the park to kick a around football.
So where to from here? I guess we’ll keep plugging along, refusing where we can and starting conversations about why we do what we do.
Now over to you. Did you take part in Plastic Free July?