The problem with Plastic Free July

The £25 water bottle

The £25 water bottle - Credit: Archant

Buying reusable items can add up, writes Nicola Warren

Just one of the reusable cups Nicola owns

Just one of the reusable cups Nicola owns - Credit: Archant

I began Plastic Free July 2019 with gusto, finding alternatives to single use plastics and posting it about it on social media.

Reusable wipes and wetbag, cup and drinking bottle were all there in the plastic free July album on Facebook.

But one week in, my motivation waned and I haven't mentioned the annual campaign on social media since July 7.

While I've seen numerous great ideas being shared by businesses and organisations, I can't help but feel some companies are encouraging consumerism.

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Yes a wooden hairbrush sounds great, but that doesn't mean I need to buy one and throw my old plastic one away, that'll just mean one more plastic item on landfill.

Okay, once something is used up or broken and unfixable, I'll replace it, but the cost can be a sticking point too.

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My friend Claire's family, for example, are making great strides in trying to go plastic free.

After one of my Facebook posts about Plastic Free July, she told me about all of the changes they've made in their household so far.

Bamboo toothbrushes, buying fruit and veg in paper bags from the market, you name it, they've tried it.

Recently they decided to switch to refillable shampoo, but got a shock at the extortionate price.

And when they tried a shampoo bar, it disintegrated after just one use.

Plastic free and/or zero waste seem to be the latest trendy buzz words, with people on certain social media groups competing to show just how earth-friendly they are.

Look at all of these plastic alternatives I've bought! But maybe we should be looking at what we have in our own household before rushing out to buy something new.

Money, and manufacturing, make the economy go round, yes, but creating more waste is not the idea of reducing single plastic usage.

And I'm guilty of it as much as anyone else. I bought myself a lovely new trendy 'sea green' coloured flask, as well as a reusable cup made from used paper cups, when we have some bog standard flasks at the back of the cupboard.

I asked for a lovely Emma Bridgewater patterned water bottle for Christmas too. But of course I have plenty of reusable plastic bottles on a shelf in the kitchen too. Another of my friends, Clare, who has admired the bottle on my Facebook page, baulked at the price. She has a point. Twenty-five quid for a water bottle?!

I have been thinking about buying some beeswax wraps for sandwiches when we've use up the last of the clingfilm, but we have loads of Tupperware type plastic tubs which will do the job just fine (once I find the lids that is - where do they go?).

There's almost a bit of peer pressure on some social media groups to spend, spend, spend on plastic-free items.

I got swept up myself last year and bought a load of beautiful reusable nappies for my daughter.

Unfortunately I had absolutely no idea how to use them and they sat in a drawer in her room for several months.

Thanks to the wonderful people at the Ipswich branch of Suffolk Cloth Nappies I found out how to use them - simple when you know how! - borrowed a nappy kit for free and bought an affordable bundle of preloved nappies to boost my stash too.

Sadly, my toddler started to refuse to wear them after a few months, and we're now heading swiftly towards potty training, so they're no longer in use.

I'm in the process of selling them, though, so other people can make changes this Plastic Free July.

I'd like to make some more changes myself, but I'm not going to buy anything else for now. I'm going to dig through the cupboards and see what I can find, or make.

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