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Plastic Free July at GREEN HOME 2016

Plastic Free July

This month, team GREEN HOME took on the Plastic Free July Challenge. We committed to refuse single-use plastic for the month. Most of us aimed to eliminate for the big 4; plastic shopping bags, water bottles, straws and coffee cups.

So how did it go?

Well – let’s hear it from the team.

“On the whole it has been easier than expected, I just need to remember to keep a shopping bag handy.”

“Even though (some of us found it) challenging, we made great efforts to see this through.”

What were the challenges?

Veggies on the run
“Having loose vegetables rolling around your trolley can be challenging. Another challenge is that most supermarkets or shops seem to assume you want a bag or your meat or toiletries to be wrapped up again. Some items are already prepackaged in plastic.”

Spontaneous shopping trips without a bag
“One of the challenges I’ve encountered is the infamous quick grocery store run. What’s normally meant to be a quick in and out always results in, ‘Oh I need that and that.. oooo and this too’. By the time I reach the till point I realise that I actually have a basket full of goodies which now need to be packed into something to be able to be carted to my car. As I have committed to ‘Plastic Free July’ I find myself saying no thank you to cashiers when asked if I’d like a bag, and then either having to huddle and try and balance the shopping haul in my arms, or cart them in the trolley. Then it’s an unpack into the car and unpack out my car, which results in several trips between the car and my apartment.”

It’s hard to be plastic-free while traveling
“I found it most difficult to stick to the plastic-free July challenge while traveling. This is where I broke my pledge.

I flew to JHB, followed by a 6 hour bus trip to Swaziland. When flying, if one would like to drink water anytime between check-in and landing, your options are to go thirsty or use plastic – as they don’t allow you to take your own bottles on board. When you’re on the road, if you’d like to eat or drink anything your options are to be super organised and make your own sandwiches or go hungry. Needless to say I wasn’t organised.

If I was better organised, then in order not to use disposable plastic I would have:

  1. Drink enough water before my flight – enough to last me the duration of the flight.
  2. Packed my own sandwiches the night before my 5am flight for the 6 hour bus trip the following day. I also would have packed my glass water bottle in my suitcase so that I could fill it up at the airport before getting onto the bus.”

Phindi took the challenge one step further

“I challenged my network of friends.  One friend commented, ‘I didn’t realise until this month how much plastic I use without even being aware that I’m using so much plastic in my home.’.”

What has it meant to be plastic-free?

“It’s meant being more conscious of what I buy and where I buy it, raising my self-awareness about how much plastic is being used and compounded my standing belief of how unnecessary it is”

“All in all, I think it has been an awesome eye opener and we look forward to continued conscious day to day efforts.”

“A wish that I’ve put out there, is to see shops offering filtered water stations. It would be amazing to see filtered water stations for people on the go who’d like to fill up their water bottles. Mostly bathroom tap water is good but sometimes I think it tastes funny.”

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