Reflecting is one of the most important ways that we can learn and grow. If we don't reflect on our past behaviors, we miss the opportunity to improve for the future. This goes for all aspects of life, and for this post, I want to share with you my reflection on how Plastic Free July went for me. And I'm going to be quite honest because I think it's important to understand that you can make a difference while not being perfect. I'm not necessarily proud of using plastic this month, but it is tough to go without it for the whole month, even for those of us more involved in sustainability. There are areas I can improve on and areas I did well (yay!).
Areas of Opportunity
To begin, I struggle with buying food on a budget without plastic. Throughout the month, I did still buy almond and oat milk from the grocery store. Additionally, I did buy a couple of boxes of vegan cheese-its; they were on sale! They come in a cardboard box but have a plastic bag on the inside. Unfortunately, most of my vegan substitutes are also packaged in plastic, like chicken nuggets which I did buy once this month. I did cut down on the number of alternatives I did buy, as I only bought the vegan chicken nuggets once and not anything else I usually get!
Secondly, I had my hair done this month which used bottles of plastic, gloves, and foils. It was very needed as my hair was about 1/3 brown and 2/3 blonde. I'm not really aware of plastic-free hair dye, so let me know if you guys have any suggestions! I don't plan on dying my hair much in the future, but since it is semi-permanent, I will need to redo it as it fades.
Lastly, an area for opportunity would be when out and about, remembering to ask for no straws or utensils, and remembering my reusable ones. A couple of times, I went out and didn't have my reusable, so I used the plastic or disposable option. This month was my birthday, and I took a trip to NYC and forgot my reusable utensils. :( Luckily, I only resorted to disposable chopsticks once. Throughout the month, there were a few occasions that I used a plastic straw and coffee cup, but for the most part, I stuck to making my coffee at home to avoid plastic.
Areas of Strength
On the other side of food, I did well this month buying produce without packaging. I also started trying to grow my own produce to cut down on how much plastic I use, so hopefully, it goes well. I don't exactly have a green thumb, but it's a learning process!
This summer, for some reason, I have been especially tempted to shop for clothes, bikinis, and jewelry. In July alone, I've wanted to buy new Levi's shorts, a new bathing suit, and new necklaces. For background information, I think I've owned the same shorts, bathing suits, and most of my jewelry for about 6 years, so I think you understand the desire for a change. I've browsed Target's options and, of course, found things I liked at a good price too. But I didn't do it; I refrained. Instead, I bought some secondhand clothes from Depop and Curtsy! When going out for my birthday, my friends were kind enough to let me borrow their necklaces and bracelets. I think that I will eventually buy shorts and bathing suits, but I'm going to take the time to get them secondhand, especially since summer is coming to an end.
In the personal care category, I've been doing fairly well in eliminating plastic this
month. Some of these things I do all the time, but there are a few new additions. My skincare routine is almost plastic-free, thanks to loopbyulta.com. I've been using the Burt's Bees cleanser, Mad Hippie Serum, and Ecobella toner. Additionally, this month I switched back to a leaf razor, my old one had broken, but they sent me a new one and took care of recycling the broken one! Additionally, my lovely friends got me hair shampoo/conditioner bars and bath bombs for my birthday, so no plastic in the shower or bath either! Lastly, a few more swaps that I've found easy to implement are Meow Meow Tweet deodorant, and I use NOICE in the morning to brush my teeth and regular toothpaste at night for the fluoride.
With all that being said, I feel overall good about how this month went. I definitely did better than last year, and I think that's the most important thing. I cannot stress enough about how you shouldn't compare to others but only yourself, even in sustainability. To be truthful, there's no perfect way to live sustainably, and if you try to do that, you'll probably always feel like you could do more. As long as you're doing something, that's better than nothing. :)