Plastic Free July (2016) – the good, the bad, the downright ugly

My plastic free July can be summed up in two words – epic fail!  But like all good failures, it’s a question of rooting out the lessons to…

Plastic beach
My plastic free July can be summed up in two words – epic fail!  But like all good failures, it’s a question of rooting out the lessons to be learned, and that I can do.

Nasty fact from the Plastic Free July website:

Apart from the small amount of plastic which has been incinerated EVERY piece of plastic which was ever produced still exists on earth somewhere.

For me, that translates into we simply can’t keep on using a material that just ‘stays’ at the enormous rate which we are currently doing.  We need to reduce our consumption, and where better to start that in our own homes.  Here’s what I achieved and learned this July.


  • Cutting out the ‘Top 4’ – plastic bags, plastic straws, takeaway coffee cups and plastic bottles was not hard.  We’ve already made the change to stainless steel water bottles across the family, the plastic bag levy (Ireland, 2002) has us pretty well trained to bring our shopping bags as a nation, I don’t really use straws and I had a 100% success rate in using my 7oz ceramic flat white keep-cup for take away coffee – nailed.
  • On the coffee, I did forget my cup a few times, but either skipped the coffee – pain, or took a break and sat down – gain.
  • My kids pretty much bought into avoiding the Top 4 items, I was proud and surprised to see hot chocolate being bought in a keep cup.
  • I’ve definitely switched a greater volume of purchase to the local farmers market, and identified some more switching opportunities.
  • I FOUND GLASS BOTTLED MILK, which I can’t unfortunately get every day, but I’m still thrilled.


  • How do I put this – it was much harder than I thought it was going to be to find alternatives to everything-wrapped-in-plastic in mainstream stores.
  • I’ve become acutely aware of the lack of bulk stores near me, and fondly remember a bulk-bin store that was clearly before it’s time 16 years ago.  Please come back and re-open now.
  • It’s totally depressing how much plastic wrapping isn’t even recyclable.
  • Outside of the grocery shopping, everything else seems to be wrapped in plastic too.  I really did buy very little that wasn’t essential.
  • With shopping gone – what will I do for hobbies now!


  • This is where it gets real.  During Plastic Free July I read a few books, watched a few documentaries and what we, the developed world are doing to the planet and it’s people in terms of squandering and exploitation is neither sustainable nor moral.  ( another days post…)
  • I knew that already, but kind of with my eyes closed.  It hurts more with them open.

So while we definitely finished out July no where near plastic free, and a dilemma bag for my family of 6 is more like a dilemma bin, I’m focusing on Plastic Free July’s encouraging words about not being perfect, and keeping on going ‘Remember it’s not going to be easy! It is a challenge, not a competition so don’t worry about being perfect.’


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