When I first saw a post online for Plastic Free July, I shared it with my sister and mum, saying, “Let’s do this!” It seemed simple enough. I like to consider myself pretty environmentally friendly, I use cloth nappies, I compost, I have solar. I didn’t think I used much plastic either, until I actually looked at what was in my fridge, and my pantry, and in the rubbish and recycling, and in every other room in the house.

There was single use plastic in almost every room in the house. Sure, some could be recycled, like the many milk bottles I seem to go through each week, but many more such as glad wrap and food packaging was headed straight to landfill.

Suddenly, going plastic free for July seemed a much more daunting task. How could I possibly give up all of these things? How could anyone give them and not starve? It was all a bit overwhelming, perhaps I shouldn’t participate after all.

Making a big change to several aspects of your life, particularly those deeply ingrained, can be hard, and the fear of failure can be enough to prevent you from attempting it to begin with. I was ready to give up, before I had even started. But then I had something of an epiphany. I was calculating approximately how many times my daughter had used one of her cloth nappies. It worked out to be roughly 100 times over 7 months. I was pretty proud. That was 100 disposable nappies that I had not sent to landfill, from the use of a single cloth nappy. I had still made a difference. Each time I chose reusable over disposable I made a difference.

I put the same logic to the use of my Keep Cup. Yes, admittedly, the first day of July without even thinking, I purchased a takeaway white choc mocha from a drive through on the way to work. It wasn’t until I had driven away and was sipping on my hot sugary beverage that I’d realised what I’d done! Since then my travel mug has gone with me almost everywhere, even if I’m not planning to buy a drink, it’s there just in case. I’ve used my travel mug about 10 times since then, and that’s 10 less plastic cup lids sitting in landfill for the next couple of hundred years. And every single time I use my reusable cup I will be making a difference.

And so for me, Plastic Free July has not necessarily been about going completely plastic free. It’s been about making small changes to the way I think, and the way I shop to minimise my plastic use. I even resisted half price Tim Tams due to their packaging, which for me is a pretty big deal. I’ve started taking my own containers to the butchers for my meat, continuing to use green bags when shopping and of course my Keep Cup is staying by my side.

By the end of Plastic Free July I’m hoping some new, more sustainable practices will just come naturally for me, and that each month I’ll be able to incorporate a new green habit into my everyday life.

Elizabeth Cardey

Mother to one human, two dogs and four cats. Enjoying coastal life in Ocean Grove while balancing motherhood, two jobs and a new cloth nappy business. Working towards sustainable, zero waste living.

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