THE RULES FOR PLASTIC-FREE WEEK
OUR EXPERIENCE GOING PLASTIC-FREE
When you’re trying to avoid it, you start seeing it everywhere you go – bags of crisps at the convenience store, containers at the salad bar, wrappers on the after-dinner mints you get at a restaurant. You can’t purchase food for takeaway without being handed a plastic-wrapped napkin, plastic utensils, packets of condiments. Our coworker Georgie gets an A for effort – “I ate a piece of cheesecake with my hands because they only had plastic forks.”
When you don’t have the option of heating up a frozen pizza, your inner chef really starts to emerge. Some people in our office noted that the challenge brought back their love of cooking.
Purchasing a CSA like Harvest of Hope is also a great option. CSA stands for community supported agriculture, and it means paying a local farm in advance for a weekly delivery of fresh, organic vegetables and even eggs. Not only are you avoiding plastic packaging, but you’re helping to combat poverty through sustainable micro-enterprises with farmers in Khayelitsha, Nyanga, and Philippi. If you don’t live in Cape Town, look online for a CSA in your area!
Going plastic-free is tied with the minimalist movement – it means investing in long-lasting, practical items that you love. Our consumerist culture encourages us to cycle through so much stuff, making cheap purchases every season. This hurts the earth and our wallets! Instead, think about how you can green the items in your life that you’re using on a regular basis. For example, rather than picking up clothes from the laundromat in a plastic bag each week, DIY a cute cloth laundry bag out of some old pillowcases!
WHAT WE LEARNED GOING PLASTIC-FREE
2. You eat healthier! When you can’t buy packaged crisps, you find yourself eating far less processed food and reaching for whole foods like apples instead. I went down to the store after lunch seeking chocolate and left with an orange!
3. You save money. At the grocery store, you only buy the things you need – because unnecessary snacks are generally wrapped in plastic. When you have to think about everything you buy, you realise you don’t really need most of it.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO LIVE PLASTIC-FREE
2. Make it a habit. Get in the habit of asking for drinks without a straw. They are the epitome of the “use once and throw it away” mentality, and they aren’t even necessary! Not to mention the heartbreaking impact they have on marine life. This means keeping on your toes; ordering a smoothie at a café or a drink at a bar should always include the sentence, “No straw, please!”
3. Shop local. Talking one-on-one with local business owners is more effective than trying to find plastic-free foods at the supermarket. For fruit and produce, seek out farmer’s markets and street stalls. Buy bread in a paper bag from a local bakery (or bake your own if you’re feeling adventurous)!
4. Invest in some jars. Mason jars are great for everything – carrying water, buying an iced coffee, bringing lunch to work. Break up with cling wrap and use jars for leftovers, or bee’s wrap makes a great alternative!
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This July, Greenpop has partnered with CAN DO! to explore the environmental impact of aluminium cans, and whether cans are a more sustainable alternative to plastic. In order to do so, we also have to investigate the impact of glass and plastic.
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