With our first Plastic Free July under our belt I thought I would look back on allll the last month taught us as we dove into the world of zero waste living. As part of the Pretty Green Life journey it has been inevitable that we have cut down on a lot of our plastic waste already, with so many independent businesses choosing to future proof their products with ethical, responsible packaging some swaps have already become a routine part of our home. But this month allowed us to place a renewed focus on packaging and really delve into the heart of intentional living, learning simple swaps, where to shop, as well as getting behind an AMAZING kickstarter campaign and learning the biggest lesson of all..how to pick your battles.
First I decided to make those swaps that everyone tells you to do. So off the orders went, first to Chilly’s for our gorgeous (and now treasured) stainless steel water bottles, then to All Natural Soap for shampoo bars, Holland & Barrett solved the search for bamboo toothbrushes, and it was back to IKEA to stock up on some extra glass tupperware.
Next was the challenge of the weekly shop. Take the opportunity to shake up your weekly routine. We usually do our shop at Aldi, and whilst it is brilliantly cheap, and does have some fresh produce loose it isn’t the widest selection. So a switch was in order and with all the amazing changes being broadcast from Morrisons there was a clear winner to step in. A quick wander around Morrisons meant I could easily note down all of the fresh fruit & veg available loose plus their butchers and fishmongers will now give you whatever you need in your own containers. Nut butters and condiments were easy enough to buy in glass, and as we step away from processed food we were left just trying to find bread, pastas, grains and pulses.
This is when you’ll find your independent stores come in useful. For us a trip out to the gorgeous team at Natural Weigh in Crickhowell easily solved the leftover lists. With metal straws, glass jars and dreamy dispensers filled with dried fruit, breakfast cereals, pasta and cleaning products we stocked up on the last bits and pieces. I am thrilled to say that more and more of these stores are popping up all over the country now, with amazing, inspiring spaces easily found on Instagram and Google, a quick search should bring up your nearest (and hopefully its slightly closer than the 50 minute drive to ours!) so get searching and track down a fab independent ASAP!
There are so many things I learnt this month but amongst the biggest are to surround yourself with positive influencers. Social media is flooded, Instagram in particular, with an incredible, international zero waste community bursting with tips, DIY hacks, shopping destinations, you name it you can find an uplifting inspiring group of people ready to share all their knowledge to anyone at any stage of their journey.
It was thanks to the wonders of Instagram that we found Ripple Living and their addictive, phenomenal kickstarter…which not only introduced an amazing group of Cardiff businesses to us but has also meant we’ve bagged some brilliant zero waste rewards to add to our home (I cannot wait to get hold of our vegan wax wraps from EcoKiddles) I am so excited that their amazing founder Sophie not only hit her target but SMASHED it, meaning that the first not for profit, zero waste store in our glorious city will open before the year is out, introducing a new generation to low impact living and making Cardiff infinitely more sustainable.
The steepest learning curve this month though has been this: As someone who attempts to live as toxin free, cruelty free, and now plastic free as possible, sometimes you can’t have it all.
Over the past few weeks I have come to learn that sometimes your ethics will be tested and whilst it is always important to live with awareness, choosing one principle over another does not make you any lesser. For some plastic free trumps toxin free, or vegan wins over zero waste. For me I’ve learnt to try to do as much of it all as possible. Living consciously and intentionally, but not always ticking every box. Putting toxic chemicals onto my skin will never be negotiable anymore, and that does mean I will be loyal to my gorgeous Tropic products, and whilst they are wrapped in plastic I will be fastidious in my recycling and where I can I will turn to other companies to fill the gaps in my beauty cabinet.
The important thing to remember is that the power is within all of us, we are so lucky that this is a change we can all make, without waiting for politicians to pass policies, we can adapt our routines and reduce our impact on the earth. Zero waste takes commitment but if you think of it as low impact living it can be less daunting, it can be creative and fun, you don’t need to do it all. You don’t have to just wear linen, eat nuts and bake your own bread (however I kind of applaud everyone who manages this level of change) start small, and keep adding, slowly and steadily. You’ll be surprised what becomes your new normal, and how amazing will it be to reflect in 6 months time as we enter a new year on how far we’ve all come?
Did you take part in PlasticFreeJuly? What were the biggest lessons you learned? Pop all those tips and tricks in the comments! I can’t wait to read them…