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Is it possible to go 100% plastic free? Well, I Tried To Go Plastic Free For One Month, This Is What I Learned.

I Tired To Go Plastic Free For One Month, This Is What I Learned

Plastic Free July has just wrapped up and according to their latest Instagram post, it was a huge success, with over 3.4 million people from 177 countries taking the challenge to #choosetorefuse single-use plastic. For the month of July, I Tired To Go Plastic Free For One Month, This Is What I Learned.

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Congratulations – you did it! It’s easy to wonder what difference one person can make but when we join together and all take small daily steps it adds up to make a big impact. In 2018 over 3.4 million people from 177 countries took the challenge to #choosetorefuse single-use plastic. Our thanks to each and everyone of you for all your efforts – for remembering reusables, for finding alternatives to plastic packaging, for starting conversations and sharing the challenge at home, work, school and in your community. It isn’t an easy challenge – it takes courage and commitment but together we can make a difference. As our friend @catfishcreative who drew this always says “Alone we are a drop, together an ocean!”

A post shared by Plastic Free July (@plasticfreejuly) on

The fact that so many people were chatting about it is good news since more reports are surfacing stating that on the current track, oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050 (by weight). In fact, there are 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flowing into waterways every single year.

And if you think in Canada these statistics don’t apply to us, you are very wrong. 

Three days after Plastic Free July Eneded, a team of researchers led by by Chelsea Rochman, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Toronto, found that about 31 kilograms worth of plastic bottles, food wrappers, toys, straws and cigarette butts had amassed at the mouth of the Don River in the city’s east end over just a two-week period in July.

A sample of some of the smaller items collected by University of Toronto assistant professor Chelsea Rochman and her lab class. Photo// Chelsea Rochman

 

Identifying and understanding what types of trash end up in the Don can help give officials the information they need to stem the flow of plastics into the Great Lakes, Rochman said.

“When it comes to plastic pollution (in lakes and oceans) we know the majority of it, about 80 percent, comes from land, with rivers being a major conduit,” Rochman said.

“Plastic production is increasing, and waste management at the moment is staying the same so we have every reason to believe that (plastic pollution) is only increasing over time.”

Some of the smaller items collected in the study of trash flowing down Don River in Toronto into Lake Ontario. Photo// Chelsea Rochman

In another study, Water samples were taken in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie by the Ministry of the Environment in 2014 found that the number of microplastic particles in the water has grown over the past several decades. Up to 6.7 million particles of plastic were present per square kilometer of lake-water, with Humber Bay in west Toronto having the highest concentration, the provincial government found.

Clearly, our obsession with single-use plastic items has reached the point of no return.

Now I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but I can honestly say that the general population is simply not getting it. I see it all around me every day.

I see educated people promoting bottled water on their IG accounts. I see people bring plastic cups and straws into the office every day! I want to scream!

They watch my segments on TV and know the issue well but there still seems to be a complete disconnect on their consumption and where their mindless waste is ending up.

Listen I am not going to lie, going 100% zero waste is not easy and it’s because society is just simply not set up that way.

Much of our modern technology relies on durable, lightweight plastic materials that are effective and cheap.

But you can start with the big four. There is no excuse in my mind anymore. There are a ton of companies that are making the transition super easy.

Carry a reusable coffee cup, refuse the straw, bring your own bags to the grocery store and STOP buying bottled water!!!! It’s simple! 

For Plastic Free July, I wanted to take my green journey to next level status and avoid plastic altogether. I am very good with this on a regular basis, but far from perfect that’s for sure, there are times when I am out and forget to say “hold the straw” for example.

It was slightly more challenging than I expected and it was mostly due to hidden plastics that I came across, very unexpectedly!

Hidden plastic:

Found inside eco-friendly makeup.

I Tired To Go Plastic Free For One Month, This Is What I Learned

On my fav body oil!

I Tired To Go Plastic Free For One Month, This Is What I Learned

Inside the lid of all my mason jars.

I Tired To Go Plastic Free For One Month, This Is What I Learned

I realized that my toilet brush has plastic on it.

I Tired To Go Plastic Free For One Month, This Is What I Learned

Produce Stickers, I carry my own bags and cutting an avocado the other day, I saw the sticker, after some research, apparently, the stickers contain plastic, they are made from vinyl and or PVC.

I Tired To Go Plastic Free For One Month, This Is What I Learned

These dumb receipts! Yep they are coated on BPA.

I Tired To Go Plastic Free For One Month, This Is What I Learned

Many receipts are printed on thermal paper, which has a slight sheen to it and a slippery feel and most of them are coated with BPA or BPS, chemicals which disrupt the endocrine system.

My sunglasses, older than the hills, at least! Bought them in a vintage shop, honestly did not even think of the bigger issue surrounding plastic back then! The more you know right?

You get the idea. It’s everywhere.

Related Post: How to protect yourself from harmful chemicals on receipts

Food shopping is hard enough to begin with, and when you are shopping at your grocery store, it’s almost impossible to go plastic free. Almost every single item that you place in your cart has some plastic in it.

But once you become mindful of it, its easier to avoid.

Here are some cool things I learned over the month of July:

I saved money! BIG TIME!

If you buy mainly whole foods and avoid the processed foods (and the packaging that comes with it) you will actually notice savings on your bill. I was less likely to buy junk food and “healthy snacks” that came in either cardboard or plastic.

Related Post: 6 Practical Ways To Stop Food Waste + Save Money

I cook at home almost 99% of the time and it was much easier to make healthier food. I found it fascinating that reducing plastic use made me eat better!

I Tired To Go Plastic Free For One Month, This Is What I Learned

I packed my lunch daily, avoiding the urge to buy something on the go. I also learned to make guacamole and hummus, because you can only buy those in plastic containers.

I experimented way more with DIY.  

You know me, I love a good DIY and share lots of them here on this website.

How To Make An Organic Sugar Body Scrub

DIY Moisturizing Shaving Balm For Smooth Legs

DIY Matcha Green Tea Smoothing Body Exfoliator

But I’ve never really been into making my own toothpaste or deodorant. I tried a bunch of new recipes and am still perfecting them. So my toothpaste and deodorant still come in plastic containers. I had to just accept this fact. If I can perfect the recipes, I will share them with you.

I learned more about how poor recycling is! I actually think recycling is for the lazy environmentalist, I am in the process of writing a separate article about this topic. I will post it here when its done!

I became WAY MORE CONSCIOUS! 

The biggest takeaway lesson is that is showed me how impossible it is to be 100% plastic free, don’t get me wrong, I am all for it, and we see lots of big bloggers doing it! But for the average person is simply not an attainable way to live and you will end up giving up before you even begin.

I am so much more aware of where plastic is hiding and have made some great changes to my diet as well.

The bottom line, start somewhere! and build from here!

Did you try plastic free July? What was your experience like?

I Tried To Go Plastic Free For One Month, This Is What I Learned

 

 

 

 

 

Candice Batista

Candice Batista is an award winning Environmental Journalist and one of Canada’s leading eco advocates. Her career spans national and international media outlets, where she has used her background in environmental studies and media & communications to produce and report on various environmental and climate issues for primarily television and digital audiences including Huffington Post, The Globe & Mail, The Weather Network, CityTV, Rogers Television, The Pet Network, iChannel, and CTV, where she is currently the National Eco Expert for the stations number 1 daytime talk show, The Marilyn Denis Show.
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