Plastic Free July 2018: Imperfectly Zero Waste

Plastic Free July ended yesterday. I ended it with a bang by visiting our region’s recycling facility – I was so curious to know what exactly gets recycled and what goes to the landfill, so look out for a blog post all about that!

It does not feel like a month has gone by. Probably because I started a new job and haven’t written on here as much as I had hoped about our abstaining from plastic. I also haven’t had the time to do the things I had wanted to this month, but my intention is to continue with this blog, but not necessarily living 100% plastic free. 31 days was not long enough for me to run out of particular products, which would have forced me to explore more plastic free options, like:

  • Personal hygiene products: toothpaste, pads/tampons (yeah I’m going there! ha!), deodorant.
  • Meat. We have a large freezer where we freeze our meat, so we didn’t run out this month. I know a butcher or deli will allow my own containers, but I need to invest in some freezable glass containers for this purpose.
  • Cleaning products: laundry soap, dish soap, paper towels/facial tissue, etc.

Is it possible to live completely plastic free? Absolutely. With enough planning and practice it is achievable. Unfortunately it takes a lot of personal time and an increase in the expense department. Want cheese or milk plastic free it will cost double (possibly more) what you would pay normally. And it takes time to make your own toothpaste, laundry soap, deodorant, or whatever it is you need to make. Unfortunately there are no stores in Niagara specific to catering to the provision of plastic free options. Health food stores do carry SOME plastic free products (bamboo toothbrushes, charcoal toothpaste, silk floss, among other thing), but they sell at a very high price (1 bamboo toothbrush = $11.00!). I did a bit of searching on Amazon and it does seem that you can find some of these items for less, but not sure what the shipping costs would be.


What changes did we make this month?

  • Switched to fabric bags for bread.
  • Gave up on straight to landfill packaging (i.e. chips). My poor husband gave up Doritos, which is his favourite snack, and Bulk Barn unfortunately does not have a good enough equivalent.
  • Opted to buy at bulk barn as much as possible (i.e. peanut butter, s’mores, snacks, baking ingredients).
  • Planning ahead of time and taking reusable items with us – coffee cups, grocery bags/containers for Bulk Barn, containers for those unexpected moments (like take out at a restaurant, although we never got to try that).
  • Said no to a lot: packaged food, yummy easy take-out, single-use plastic (straws, cups, wrapping).
  • Had a lot of conversations with store employees: “Is plastic? Can you put this into my container? How can I buy this plastic free? Can you sell this at your store in glass and not plastic?”

What will we continue with post Plastic Free July?

Not sure about this completely. For sure we will be continuing to buy dairy in plastic until we can figure out a more affordable alternative. Otherwise we are actually going to attempt to continue with being plastic free.

What now?

Although plastic is a high priority in our household, we certainly desire to be as “zero waste” as possible, sticking to the 5 R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (in the landfill), and only in that order by Bea Johnson (see my “What is Zero Waste” page. I have come across lately blogs of people who call themselves “low waste” instead of “zero waste” and it’s warming on me, and I think it is something that fits our family right now. But this is a journey, and every little bit of action is a step in the right direction!

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