I learned a lot during the first week of Plastic Free July and wanted to do an update.
I definitely had a few wins: On Sunday, we went grocery shopping at Sprouts and I brought glass jars for shopping bulk. I had reached out to Sprouts ahead of time, and they suggested I have them weighed at the register before filling them up. So, I did that (I had prepped them with masking tape on each lid to make it easy to write the weight and PLU number.) There was a bit of a hiccup because the cashier couldn’t figure out how to take the extra weight off when we were paying, and she called the manager over, and he had to make a phone call to get it figured out. Luckily, the kids and the people in line behind us were patient. And actually, the person directly in line behind us was someone we knew, so it gave is an opportunity to chat about Plastic Free July and spread the word. I also used reusable shopping bags, reusable produce bags, and took a glass snapware container to to the deli and they put our lunch meat in there instead of a plastic bag no problem. (Note: You can also buy bulk items at Whole Foods, and you can get spices in bulk at McDowell Market in Phoenix.)
Peanut and I made granola and Pumpkin and I made granola bars to try to decrease the amount of pre-packaged items we ate this week. I was hoping the granola would replace cereal, but Pumpkin wasn’t a big fan of the variety of raisins we used, so she still ate her regular cereal. (I wanted to finish the loaf of bread we had already purchased previously, but we do plan on baking the next loaf of bread to avoid that bag.) I also bought whole carrots (instead of baby carrots in a plastic bag) and peeled and sliced them up for the week.
Take it with you
It’s easier to avoid plastic by planning ahead. That includes packing bags and jars for shopping, or keeping reusable water bottles and travel mugs with you. When we went out to eat on Monday, I took a tupperware to bring leftovers home and I had the girls bring in their reusable water bottles because I knew that particular restaurant (like many others) always gives the kids disposable plastic cups with lids and straws. (One unanticipated issue was the restaurant served the coleslaw and sauce that came with my meal in plastic containers.) We also all took our water bottles to the Diamondbacks game on the Fourth. We had to dump them before going in, but filled them at the water fountain once we were inside.
Dessert is my downfall
Monday night an ice cream truck was coming to our neighborhood, so I packed up spoons before we went. Unfortunately, the truck that came this month served everything in pre-packaged plastic clamshell containers. We still bought it because I had already promised the girls ice cream, and brought the containers home to recycle. Later in the week, I forgot to pack our own spoons for the Dbacks game, so we did end up using plastic spoons that night. On Saturday, we again went out for ice cream (don’t judge – it’s a holiday week and 115 degrees outside) and I did remember spoons and all went well.
Plastic is everywhere
Despite our efforts, it was disappointing to realize just how much plastic we are using on a daily basis. Below is a list of items we used this week that we had purchased prior to the start of Plastic Free July. I have noted alternative options next to some of them (where text underlined, that means we made that change this week). But I also realize that to fully commit to some of these changes would mean a big change to our lifestyle (we both work full time, and currently the girls don’t have Saturday activities or Sunday school so I have a little more kitchen time in the summer – that will change very soon). If you have other suggestions, please share!
- Milk (buy in glass jars)
- Bagels (make homemade or purchase from bakery with paper or reusable bag)
- Cream Cheese
- Yogurt (make homemade or purchase in glass jar)
- Ranch Dressing (make homemade)
- English Muffins (make homemade)
- Almond Butter (make homemade or buy in glass jar)
- Vanilla Extract (buy in glass jar)
- Crackers (make homemade)
- Tortillas (make homemade)
- Ground Turkey
- Taco Seasoning (buy ingredients in bulk and make own)
- Lemon Pepper
- Garbage Bags (use a compostable bag, line bin in newspaper or use paper bag)
- Baking Soda (buy in bulk)
- Chocolate Chips (buy in bulk)
- Pretzels (buy in bulk)
- Peanut Butter (make homemade or buy in glass jar)
- Cereal (make homemade)
- Cheese (ask deli to put in glass container)
Clearly, we really have a long way to go in reducing plastic (and waste in general) in our home, but I hope it will lead to more long-term changes.
Also, since this post is focused mainly on food products, I will plan to do another post on beauty products before the end of the month.
Feel free to follow along on Instagram for daily updates and tips in my story.