Pierre and I decided to give going plastic free a crack this year for Plastic Free July. I found it such an eye opening and interesting process. This month has made me aware of:
How far we’ve come
How far we’ve got to go
How your personal actions can inspire and affect those around you just by being you, believing in something, sharing your story and doing what you do
I made a list at the start of July and shared it on my Instagram. Plastic Free July wasn’t going to be that difficult I said. Everything in the kitchen was plastic free already or could be with a change of decision/shopping location.
We have bags for the shops,
We don’t buy fruit/veg packaged in plastic
We have access to a bulk foods shop
I make a lot of things from scratch.
She’s good. I knew of a few tricky bits: coconut yoghurt, a whole chook / butcher items, seafood, remembering the little produce bags for leafy greens … but I was willing to try to work them out.
What I found interesting was, how easy it was to ditch the plastic when it was fairly front of mind.
Remembering my little produce bags for the leafy greens was a difficult one, but after a few goes, I realised this is just what I do now. The little produce bags go inside the shopping bags and if I for some reason forget, I buy a bunch of silverbeet or kale instead.
I’ve also realised that it takes a bit more effort to go to these particular shops and I now have to bounce between 2 busy suburbs and 3 shops to get everything I need. I feel like a soccer mum without the children or the container of oranges. At the moment, I really don’t feel like doing a whole lot of bouncing around the suburbs on a shopping mission, so this month has automatically turned into a ‘buy nothing new until you realllllly need it’ and in some cases a ‘buy more than you need so you don’t have to come back for a while’.
This in itself has become an awesome challenge and I’m amazed at how I’d nip to the shops for things I didn’t totally need when there was a substitute in the fridge or pantry or laundry waiting for me.
I’ve said this before, but our way out of our food waste issues is to learn to cook and I believe our plastic free mission is interwoven too.
If you can cook, you can buy items from scratch, you don’t need packets.
If you can cook, you’ll understand what to buy at the bulk food store (and how much) so you don’t blow out your budget.
If you can cook, you’ll be savvier at buying what veggies you need and when they’re looking a bit old, have the skills to cook them, freeze them, ferment them, so they’re a gift that keeps on giving for future you and don’t go to waste.
If you can cook, you’re better at understanding the seasons of food, so you save money. No more $9 cauliflowers.
If you can cook, you understand that (most) fruits and vegetables are eaten in their whole state – peeling isn’t always a requirement (hello carrots).
If you can cook, you’re confident to put on a pot of rice, make a simple tomato sauce, roast up 3 trays of veggies, whizz up a dressing and throw a leg of lamb in the slow cooker which will only take you and hour or so, round trip. You then know how to store, serve and portion, so lunches and dinners are sorted. Your stress levels are lower and you go out into the world as a different person – which helps our planet more than we give it credit for.
If you can cook, everyone benefits (this one is inspired by my friend, coach and Kitchen Saucery member Hayley Carr, who always says to me “when you take care of yourself, everyone benefits.” To me, cooking is taking care of yourself, big time, so I’m sharing this nugget of gold with you.
If you can cook, you will in turn, eat better food, it’s hard to be a cook and not do this.
Something funny happened last weekend. My butcher had a big sign out the front – GOAT IN STORE TODAY.
The Italian Nonna in me was beyond excited at the possibility of slow cooking a goat shoulder. I talked to my butcher, requested the goat. Caught a glimpse of their amazing sausages, bought 2 different styles of sausages for pizza night. Then saw the olives and thought ‘oh I’m doing Plastic Free July, can’t get those…..’ it wasn’t until the olives I realised I’d already automatically racked up 3 plastic bags without realising it. Interesting.
Changing habits is a conscious process. It’s like cooking or exercising (for a lot of us). We really don’t want to do it, or we’re hesitant, so we drag our feet and resist resist resist. When if we picked up our heels just a tiny bit more, we’d be on our way a lot faster and a little bit happier too.
This is what I do now. I really ask myself whether a trip to the shops is necessary. I take my bags to the shops, I have a container or 2 in those bags (so I can buy meat), if I forget the containers I ask for the meat in the paper only, I make my own coconut yoghurt, I make my own seedy GF bread or I ask for a paper bag for sourdough. If I forget any of this. I take it as a nugget of wisdom and try again next time, because when you’re learning a new habit, 100% perfection is always going to trip you up.