Ciara's Plastic Free July

Week 1 - This will be easy, right?

We're a week into Plastic Free July now and I have to admit there have already been some hiccups along the way. I am quite conscious of my plastic consumption on a daily basis but I dove straight into the challenge without much thought or preparation beforehand and naively thought it would be quite easy. I thought to myself, instead of getting rid of all things plastic I am instead going to prohibit myself from buying any plastic throughout the month and hopefully beyond July. I guess that meant I could have gone and stocked up on all my shampoo and conditioner etc on the 30th June (damn why did I not think of that?) Essentially this means I can start out easy and it will get more and more difficult as the month goes on when I start running out of things like dish washer soap. 😬 Tips welcome!

We were actually away visiting family on the 1st of July so after a quick look in the cupboard of where we were staying, there was an urgent scramble to stock up on zero plastic packaged food for the next few days. A last minute plan was made to head to Cork City with my cotton bags and glass jars clinking away inside.

My first Plastic Free July meal was a bit or a cheat in that I didn't prepare it myself. I visited 'Izz' a Palestinian Cafe (@cafeizz), that I had heard so much about and got a breakfast pastry and some fresh tamarind juice. Indoor dining is still prohibited here in Ireland due to the corona virus so everything is takeaway which is not helping the environment in terms of single use packaging. My breakfast would have been served in plastic had I not asked. I had my Global WAKEcup water bottle which the waitress was kind enough to serve the tamarind juice in and I took my pastry in a biodegradable napkin. Next stop was the Quay Co-op who to my relief had a selection of loose fruit and veg and just in the last month they set up a new dry food dispenser. The selection here was limited though it covered me for the essentials, like muesli, rice, nuts and seeds. I needed to buy turmeric for my morning tea and sadly they had a few turmeric knobs in a little plastic bag which seems to me like unnecessary packaging since most of the time it is peeled anyway for consumption. They also had a glass bottle of pressed turmeric but I opted to try somewhere else and found some loose. 

The next place I visited was a goldmine for getting on the Plastic Free July bandwagon - Cork's English Market! Stalls upon stalls of loose fruit and veg, freshly baked bread, fish mongers and butchers. I had taken my Global WAKEcup stainless steel lunchboxes with me and stocked up on all things meat, fish and bread. I also got some cheese which was wrapped in grease proof paper - it did have a sticker on it which, in hindsight I think counts as my first Plastic Free Fail? A second goldmine that I need to go back to was Earth Way Refill Store in Midleton, Co. Cork. I visited with my little cousins and we had a great time filling up our jars with all the essentials and a few treats!

Week 2 - Why did I agree to this..?

This past week has definitely been more difficult. I'm ran out of toothpaste and automatically picked up a plastic tube at the supermarket the other day before I remembered and dropped it like it was hot lava. Instead I opted for the White Teeth Box Toothpaste Tabs and this is definitely a swap that I will sustain. No more trying to squeeze that extra tiny bit of toothpaste out of the tube. It's a win win! They also do other cool plastic free dental products like biodegradable dental floss in a little glass jar!

I've for sure had my share of little plastic free fails this week. I helped myself to a bag of crisps while watching the Euro's final. Where are the plastic free packaged crisps at? I also fancied a dessert but couldn't find anything nice and plastic free in the shops so I made a rhubarb crumble with some rhubarb we had growing in the garden. I didn't have enough flour and sugar in my refill jars and as it was Sunday I had to resort to the local shop. Thankfully Odlums and Suicra (Irish food brands) both maintain the old school paper packaging on their products. I always re-use the butter foil wrapper to put over fish or roast potatoes - a tip from my Great Aunt.

Hair care was one part of the plastic free July challenge that I wasn't looking forward to but thank goodness there are a lot of new and amazing companies that have come up with very innovative alternatives. Of course the super convenient soap bars, I've been using the shampoo and conditioner bars from Kind2 - And also if you want more of a lathery experience not only do Ksoni use all natural ingredients they also package their products in drinking cans and provide a re-usable biodegradable lid:

If you are to make one plastic free swap this month I urge you to swap to bar soap rather than a dispenser. You will not be disappointed as long as you swap to the Clean U Soap Nut Handcrafted Artisan Soap with the tangy poppy scent. You can buy it on it's own on our website or mix and match in a set of 3. I can't wait to try the 'Back to the Beach' scent.

 Week 3 - The heatwave

With a heatwave forecast I knew this week was going to be difficult. Whenever the weather is good it means BBQ's on the beach and grabbing whatever is in the local shop instead of going to the farmers markets, fish mongers and veggie grocers where everything is package free. Also takeaways and convenience food feature a lot in order to spend as much time outside as possible. I won't lie, I allowed some friends do the shopping for a BBQ and I turned a blind eye to their arrival of food in single use plastic containers. I took some veggies from our poly-tunnel and we got lucky and caught a few fresh mackerel AND a lobster, but of course I helped myself to some of their plastic packaged food. 😬 Of course we took the plastic home, washed it and recycled it and I managed to convince them to skip the disposable BBQ by using a wire rack and making our own little fire - small wins, right?

I also noticed that my favorite takeaway sushi place uses single-use plastic containers. So I grabbed my Global WAKEcup ones and took them with me. They think I'm crazy but said yes. Win!


 Week 4 - the love hate relationship with plastic

I came to the realization that we have a long way to go before we completely eradicate single use plastic. I've learned a lot doing this challenge and I have changed my habits with lots of things. It made me more aware that we literally use plastic for everything, it's difficult to avoid.

I was explaining the challenge to my Dad one morning and he felt guilty that, at that very moment, he was getting his silage wrapped in metres and metres of plastic 😂 We all use plastic - there's no denying it. But we can all make small sacrifices and changes. Maybe you can make a change that I will find more difficult and visa versa. Now that Plastic Free July is over - I'm off to get a packet of crisps!

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