It’s a huge challenge, but worth a try.
Kerryn and Deb Jones tried going plastic free in Parkes last year after watching a Four Corner episode about how recyclable plastics often don’t get recycled and end up in landfill.
“We decided to do a month’s grocery shopping completely plastic free to see what wasn’t a problem and what we simply couldn’t buy.
“Our first grocery shop was very interesting. There was a lot of…well we can’t get that… or that… or that…we can’t buy that any more… or that!
“Luckily, we like fresh fruit and veg, but even the watermelon, one of our favourites, was covered in glad wrap. We were going to have to buy them whole from now on and re-learn how to tell a good melon from a bad one without being able to see inside!”
The two sisters have not been able to go completely plastic free, but packaging is at the front of their minds when they shop and definitely plays a role in deciding what to buy. They are going to give the Plastic Free July challenge a go as motivation to try and find more plastic free options.
This is what they found the most challenging:
• Meat: find a sympathetic butcher who will put your meat in your container or in a paper bag. It was impossible to find free range chicken locally that is not wrapped in plastic;
• Biscuits: almost impossible, so they made their own;
• Nuts ‘n stuff: they visit a bulk food outlet to buy nuts, grains, dried fruit etc;
• Berries: always in plastic so they have to wait for the berry farm to open to pick their own. They’ve also planted some, but that might take a while;
• Yoghurt: make your own;
• Cheese: they found one shop that sells cheese in paper – unfortunately not in Parkes;
• Shampoos underarm and toothpaste: plastic free options are available, but mostly online or out of town;
• Loo paper: ‘Who gives a crap’ can be bought online in bulk to reduce packaging and freight. They use only paper-based packaging, environmentally friendly paper and give back profits to community projects.
Trying to remove plastic from their lives, have also made them realise how much of a concern all packaging is. Deb remembers how glass bottles were reused in her childhood. “You’d take them down to Or-bells on Bogan Street and trade them in. I think we’d have to go back to that at some stage. There needs to be a big shift in the way we package and it probably means going away from shiny perfect products we have become used to.”
If you’d like to try the Plastic Free July challenge by choosing to refuse single-use plastics go to the website for ideas and alternatives that can become new habits forever.
If going plastic free is too daunting or overwhelming, just take it one step at a time and start refusing plastic straws, stop buying bottled water, or using plastic bags for your fruit and veg.
“We really have to get into the habit of reusing and refusing,” said Kerryn. “If we really can’t do either, then recycling is the next best option.”