The Plastic Free Challenge

Plastic Free July

Week 1 Diary Entry

I have been told that I suffer from "climate anxiety" and why should I worry because any small changes I make to my daily habits are futile compared to the changes that need to be adopted at a global political and industry level.  That statement is probably correct.  I am in the middle of reading Greta Thunberg's collection of speeches, "No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference" (thanks Lisa Carty), and her overall analysis of the climate crisis is bang on: 

"The climate crisis is both the easiest and hardest issue we have ever faced. The easiest because we know what we must do. We must stop the emissions of greenhouse gases. The hardest because our current economics are still totally dependent on burning fossil fuels, and thereby destroying ecosystems in order to create everlasting economic growth."

Spending the month discussing ways to decrease our carbon footprint would definitely be a worthwhile exercise, however, there is probably a more immediate issue to address first and that is changing people's mindset about their individual environmental impact. A good place to start is with the global initiative "Plastic Free July". If, by the end of July, people feel empowered and keen to get involved in other environmental initiatives or groups, I see that as the beginning of the cultural change which is needed to address the larger issue of global warming.  

Here endeth the sermon, or as Counsel so peculiarly put it, "nothing further occurs"…now on to Plastic Free July. 

No prizes for guessing what it's all about - Plastic Free July is a global yearly challenge where millions of people give up single use plastic during the month of July. It aims to raise awareness of the amount of single-use disposable plastic items in our lives and challenges people to do something about it. While William Fry will be trialling certain plastic free initiatives in the workplace, I volunteered to write a diary documenting my attempt to go plastic free at home for the month.  Of course, my poor unsuspecting boyfriend, Stephen (hereinafter "STH"), does not know it yet but he will be joining me on this "eco adventure" (I have to try spin it positively for him) and I don't have the heart to tell STH yet that his favourite jellies are now contraband!  

I have given it some thought, and I think the two main areas of focus for the diary over the next month are to identify: 

  1. What single-use plastics can I avoid altogether or replace with compostable alternatives; and
  2. Situations where I am confronted with single-use plastic and have no alternative but to accept it. 

The main plastic-filled aspect of my life is undoubtedly grocery shopping, followed by coffee shops. Friends and colleagues have been very helpful and provided me with names of grocery stores that sell loose fruit and veg or operate a policy of no single-use plastic packaging.  They are definitely not the most convenient options and will require some planning and foresight on my part, but sure look, #firstworldproblems.  Many of the large grocery shops are getting better at offering plastic-free packaging and I will continue to do most of my grocery shopping in Aldi, Lidl and Tesco.. 

Some of the smaller shops I will be trying out are: 

In terms of coffee shops, I have a reusable coffee cup and it is a very easy way to reduce your individual plastic usage.  Contrary to popular belief, take-away coffee cups are not recyclable in Ireland and last year nearly 200 million single use coffee cups were thrown away.  A lot of coffee shops now offer compostable cups (look out for the "vegware" sign), which is great, but reusing your keep-cup is still better.  Most coffee shops also offer discounts for bringing your keep-cup, which is especially helpful if, like me, you recently calculated your annual expenditure on coffee!  

So, stay tuned for next week's edition of my Plastic Free July diary, where you can find out how I got on with week 1, and whether STH has started citing "irreconcilable differences".  

 

Click on the links to read Part 2 and Part 3 of Rebecca's Plastic Free July  blog! 

 


 

  

 


For Plastic Free July, our very own Rebecca MacCann agreed to live as plastic free as possible for the month and blog about her experience. Read her first blog here and follow the links at the end of the piece for further installments. What alternatives will she find? What obstacles will she face? Stay tuned!