One of our Arjuna members doing plastic free July.
She says: ‘For July I will be going plastic free. This is no easy task, my closest zero waste shop is an hour train journey away, and the only plastic free things available in supermarkets are fruit and veg. Luckily at Arjuna all our pack down products and our meals from the kitchen come in non-plastic, compostable packaging.’
What we’ve learnt so far:
Cafe options like sandwiches and cookies obviously can’t just be chucked in a backpack unwrapped but using a keepleaf means you don’t have to get cling film or plastic packaging.
2. Choose canned drinks rather than plastic bottles – this isn’t zero waste and a reusable water bottle would be best but perfection isn’t the point. This choice will mean less plastic in the ocean.
3. Plastic straws are bad for the ocean, we suggest declining these. In cases where you really need one, for instance if you have a disability meaning a straw is necessary, perhaps metal ones will do? We happen to sell these.
(We know there are disabilities which means plastic straws are essential and we certainly don’t want to criticise, we know you care! It’s just if plastic straws aren’t needed, we’d suggest not using them)
4. If you know you’ll be going out for a day, e.g. the beach, going to a different city for a show, etc. it’s often easiest to be plastic free by taking your own snacks. Plus, your food is cheaper and you get what you want.
5. Eat out plastic free by planning ahead. If you’re going to London (where Hollie does lots of her vegan activism) many places will serve vegan food in cardboard takeaway boxes. Camden Market is great for this. Leon is also a takeaway food place which will serve plastic free lunches.
If you’re in Cambridge, Arjuna’s takeaway food comes in cellulose based material, or cakes come in paper bags; it’s all compostable. And it’s vegan and freshly made.
Many places will let you fill up your lunchbox, instead of using their plastic takeaway pots. Fruit and veg often comes without wrapping and makes a healthy meal – or if you’re starving and need calories go to a chip shop and ask for chips in paper wrapping (if you’re vegan make sure the frying oil isn’t beef fat).
6. For reusable menstrual products, try mooncups. These are silicon based reuseable tampon type things. They’re a cup shape, you don’t have to change it as often a a tampon and you’ll have a reduced risk of toxic shock syndrome.
They’re much better for the environment. Plus cheaper for you!
If you’re not ready to make the jump to mooncups, natracare tampons come without plastic on the applicators. Making these changes adds up for the ocean. We sell mooncups and natracare products at Arjuna.
7. Food shopping: try to go to a zero waste shop. This isn’t an option for everyone because of travel, but you can sign up for something like zero waste club online, who will send you products with cardboard only packaging. Arjuna isn’t zero waste but we do have all of our packdowns (oats, lentils, dried fruit, flours etc.) all in cellulose packaging rather than plastic.
9. Buy beans and lentils in cans rather than in plastic pouches, this isn’t zero waste but they can be recycled.
10. If you use cotton pads to remove make up or have a wash, consider getting some reusable ones – lovely and spongy. We sell these at Arjuna. You just put them in the washing machine and peg them out to dry. They’re easy to make yourself if you’re crafty.
11. Cotton buds. I have a friend who’s obsessed with cleaning her ears and we can go into intricacies of that but the plastic based cotton buds are some of the worst products for staying around forever.
You can get bamboo reusable ones, we stock them from a French company called ‘Lamazuna’. This might seem weird but you clean them afterwards and when they’re dry you can store them. This will work out cheaper for you as well as they’re about £5.00 and they might even be more effective as you don’t push wax further in.
If you’re not too keen on putting things into your ears that look like this you can get the normal type cotton buds but made with bamboo. We stock these. Stick them in your compost after use.
12. Toilet tissue, pocket tissue and kitchen roll: these usually come in plastic wrapping.
You can buy or make lovely material ‘kitchen roll’, you’ll need 10/20 strips and some come in dispensers, check Etsy. You can wash and reuse them. If you need pocket tissue, you could just use normal tissue folded.
Ecoleaf makes kitchen roll in compostable wrapping and we sell these at Arjuna.
We sell toilet tissue Arjuna in compostable wrapping – or check out ‘who gives a crap’ online who will deliver eco friendly toilet tissue to you packaged in beautiful paper and cardboard (they also give 50% profits to schemes to provide toilets in the developing world – this is a huge health issue).
There are lots of reasons to take part in platic free July.
You can find out more on the Plastic Free July website but to summarise, plastic bottles, bags and takeaway containers that we use once and then throw away last just about forever in land fill. These are disposable products that are here for good.
Even if the item breaks down, the pieces get into the food chain and cause irreparable damage for wildlife.
Recycling is great but only about 9% of the plastic ever made has been recycled. It’s often made into other single use products, just to end up in land fill.
It’s a horrible thought, but by 2050 it’s likely there will be more tonnes of plastic than fish in the ocean.
But it’s not about guilt tripping.
Don’t treat yourself harshly if you’re finding it hard to go plastic free! We live in a society that’s not set up for it and any change you can make will be so helpful.
If you work at Arjuna it’s easier to reduce plastic use, we focus on having cellulose or other compostable materials and have an ecozone which includes shampoo bars, zero waste toothpaste, conditioner and so on. We’re not having a go, we know how lucky we are with our staff discount, and we know how hard it is to budget and prioritise plastic free.
We hop Arjuna can provide inspiration for where you can make changes. Often products are lovely to use, for instance the cling film alternatives make for a cheerful lunch break.