We have all seen the videos of animals caught in plastic, the floating plastic in the ocean and plastic bags blowing in the wind trapped on a fence or a tree. Everywhere we look plastic is creeping into every aspect of our lives and becoming more invasive. This is why I have been trying to improve my personal use and join the plastic free challenge.

Plastic Free Challenge – Change Your Daily Habits

My wife and I have been working hard over the last few years to strive to be a plastic free household. Now of course there will always be plastic. I love my 20 year plastic bulk spice containers or my vegetable steamer. What I am talking about here is the single use plastic that is everywhere and has become a huge environmental concern.

I wrote about plastic with more detail in my post Striving Towards Environmentally Conscious Sustainable Living.

Reusable mugs, water bottles, cutlery, and straws. The amount or plastic society is using is almost unbelievable. EarthDay.org states on their website that “Humans buy about 1,000,000 plastic bottles per minute in total and only about 23% of plastic bottles are recycled within the U.S.”

EarthDay.org

So if I wrote about plastic in a previous post why am I writing here again about it? Well in December fellow environmentally conscious blogger and friend Angela at Tread Lightly – Retire Early wrote about going Plastic Free in December. It was terrific write-up and included first hand experiences from Kathy at Baby Boomer Super Saver . Angela put a challenge out there to all of us to a plastic free month, I really enjoyed her final thoughts on putting the call to action out into the digital universe.

Clearly, ditching plastic isn’t going to solve the climate crisis, and my day job makes a bigger difference than skipping plastic in my personal life ever will, but it all counts. And if I’m going to talk about this stuff, I should be living it too, at least to the best of my ability within the constraints of the society we live in.

Big, society level change is going to be key in combating the climate crisis we are currently living in. We need the biggest polluters – the international companies – to fundamentally change the way they create and dispose of things. Even so, if we all started to live differently, we could make a serious impact.

And while I can hope for big change at the high level, I’m much more hopeful that grassroots changes could grow into something that forces bigger change. So, for starters, I will continue to tread lightly on this earth and continue to push the envelope to make change in my personal life, though I will never be perfect.

Plastic Free December Challenge

That brings us to today, it is now January. Looking back at December which is already a massively huge consumer focused month the cards are stacked against most people. That did not worry my wife or I though, we tackled the challenge straight on.

The wife and I joined in to do our best to #rethinkplastic & do a #plasticfreedecember. Below is our entire months plastic (which we recycled) from any new plastic we brought into the house.

99% of it is from our groceries, things like tofu and plant based meats come in plastic packaging with no other alternatives. At least being vegetarians we have no styrofoam or shrink wrap waste from meat packaging. We were already very good at getting no plastic with our fruits and vegetables. We always use our own bags for groceries, they go with us everywhere and we leave multiple in our vehicle. We take our small eco bags for the grocery store to get small bulk items. We use sealer jars at bulk refillers that now allow home containers to be used like Bulk Barn to get our larger bulk groceries.

The first photo is all our waste bagged up and the second is everything in that bag laid out. The third bag is the protective wrapping from Christmas cards and gifts.

You will notice zero straws, bottles or coffee cup lids as we both use our own water bottles and Hydroflask coffee mugs absolutely everywhere. This is the biggest visual impact I see in my daily life. I am sorry but I have no time for those who do not adopt using their own mugs or water bottles. I wrote about how the privileged North American consumer mindset is harming our environment as this really bugs me.

I eliminated bread bags by switching exclusively to the bakery down the road who cuts my bread fresh and then puts it in paper for me. We need to find a bakery that makes fresh bulk bagels so we can avoid those plastic bags.

Below are some images of how we tried to improve during the challenge. Many retailers are embracing the zero waste movement so if you have the time be sure to google options in your region.

We are continuing on into January now with the challenge as the longer you go the tougher it gets. I searched out glass jars for the mayo and peanut butter during grocery shopping last night. It is little changes like that which make the difference. We were far from perfect and really hope we can continue to improve this and engrain the good habits into our daily habits.

Reduce Your Plastic and Take the Challenge

Have you tried any type of challenges to reduce your personal footprint? This is a great way to visualize your personal consumption as well as how much plastic waste you generate.

Greenpeace suggest the following as guidelines on how to get started on your own challenge.

  • Beginner: You can pick one disposable item to avoid all month, like single-use plastic straws, coffee cups, grocery bags, or water bottles, and create a new solid habit of bringing your own reusables! 
  • Intermediate: You can commit to eliminating those big four (single-use plastic straws, coffee cups, grocery bags, or water bottles) or another mixture of single-use plastic items you notice in your lifestyle.
  • Expert: You can go all in and avoid all disposable plastic all month!

I urge you to start a #PlasticFreeMonth this year. I share most on this challenge on twitter feed so follow along there if you are a twitter user like me.

A big shoutout to Chrissy and Angela on twitter for the support, check out their accounts for more reading on lifestyle optimization with regards to personal finance and eco-awareness. This is a lifestyle change that is easier to accomplish with a supportive community.

Make Your Challenge a Community Effort

To end this post I will leave you with a fun video from fellow Vancouver Island resident and awesome video creator Levi Hildebrand. His channel he states ” On this channel I prove that you don’t need to be a hero to save the planet! I do this by showcasing the ideas, innovations and individuals that are making the world a better place AND giving you the information you need to be a part of it.” So thanks to Levi for inspiring us and also to Surfrider Vancouver Island for helping keep where I live clean and beautiful.

Be sure to follow along on my mindful journey discovering the benefits of the outdoors, simple living, personal finance, sustainable living and mindfulness on social media. My Instagram account is @Stasher_BC as well as over on Twitter at @Stasher_BC . Make sure to use the hashtags #MindfulExplorer and #ExploreBeyondTheUsual so I can see how you are optimizing and improving your own life.

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Like you I try to eliminate as much single use plastic as I can, but it’s obviously very hard since it’s ubiquitous. I’m also toying with the idea of setting up my kayak to do plastic removal and spending some nice paddling days on the Potomac while also collecting up those darn grocery store bags and all of the other plastic crap that accumulates in the river and on it’s banks. It would be a great way to do something good while also being outside and getting a workout.

  • a Life on a Dime says:

    This is awesome! I did not do so well, but we are definitely doing better than a year ago. We stopped buying paper towels, ziploc bags, etc a while back. I was gifted some homemade beeswax wraps and more tea towels this Christmas, which makes things a lot easier in the kitchen! I can’t wait for spring when we’ll get our own garden going and shop the local produce stand for the remainder of our produce. It cuts down on trash and waste so much!

  • shadowmoss says:

    From what I understand, mayonnaise is easy to make in small batches, just an egg yolk, vinegar or other acid, and light oil. Use an immersion blender. I haven’t had the courage to try it yet, but my current bottle of mayonnaise is almost empty so it will be time to step up. Nomnompaleo.com has a good video on how to do it. https://youtu.be/5ZK-1jk35sc

    For peanut butter, you could try grinding your own peanuts. I have to say I would stop eating it before I’d go to that trouble, but YMMV.

    • Thanks for the link on the mayonnaise, a fair amount of people recommended on facebook as well. We use mayo very seldom so buying one glass jar was a more reasonable approach as well as better shelf life. As for PB, I eat so much with the wife each day it is easier for us to just buy. Some things I don’t mind paying for the convenience, just need to make sure it doesn’t include plastic.

  • Nic made homemade bagels before and they turned out pretty good! I bet you guys could tackle that in house to reduce that plastic bag 🙂

    Major kudos for such a small footprint in December. We too are team reusable bags in the car to have 100% of the time at the grocery store, make our coffee at home to avoid single use cups, don’t drink from straws, etc. Buying your tp in bulk is a great idea. Love that bulk barn allows you to bring your own jars. Yet the world we live in is filled with soooo much plastic 🙁 I enjoy bringing an empty bag with me on walk to fill it up with garbage along the way to also try and help out.

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