I’m Gonna Try ‘Plastic Free July’

I heard about Plastic Free July, last year through Instagram. As the name suggests, the idea is to reduce (ideally eliminate) the use of plastic for the month of July. From there you, hopefully, have developed some habits that you will stick with to reduce your overall plastic consumption long term.

As mentioned in my most recent post, I feel my largest waste generator comes from food waste. I think my largest plastic waste comes from take-out containers. I don’t have the best habits around take-out. They aren’t the worst, but there’s massive room for improvement. I consider take-out a rare treat, but I’m not treating it as such. Particularly this past year, where I justified take-out as supporting small businesses. But also order my meals on delivery apps that take around 30% fees from the restaurants. So how much was I really supporting?

Also, I get my groceries delivered sometimes and plastic bags are an unavoidable part of the process.

Anyway, my plan for Plastic Free July is to reduce my waste by doing the following:

  • No take out. There are more restaurants that are switching to cardboard packaging. But for the month, lets assume that all restaurants are using plastic;
  • As little plastic wrapping in the food I buy. I do live in a city with bulk foods stores, and its farmers market season. Two that are walking distance from my house. So this should be relatively achievable if I do some planning;
  • Donate the black plastic I’m hoarding. I don’t think my roommate knows that I sometimes take her black plastic take-out contains out of our recycling bins and add them to a hidden pile of take-out containers I plan on donating. The City of Toronto doesn’t accept black plastic in its recycling system and I don’t want her wishcycling. There are a non-profits that reusing them, as well as programs that specifically will redistribute black plastic take-out containers to restaurants in the City. So my plan is to get my weird little pile of take-out contains out of the house and somewhere, where ideally, they will be reused again before becoming trash. I also will bring my plastic bags to one of the groceries stores near my house that has a recycling/takeback program.
  • Write to the City of Toronto and ask to improve the recycling system to accept Black plastic (I understand their sorting machines cant see it, but I could be wrong) and other types of plastic waste. Or put a By-Law in place that bands the sale of black plastic take-out contains to restaurants in Toronto’s. Or something like that. I know that second idea would never happen, since it’s impossible to enforce. But maybe more education to restaurant owners about plastic and Styrofoam containers. And encourage them to order other biodegradable materials. I don’t really know. I need to some research before I write to my City Councilor.

My stretch goal, if I have time. Go out on a walk and pick up garbage. I see people on the internet that do it and I admire them. But I also think its kinda gross, and bad for my back.

I’m also making excuses. So I want to give it a try at least once. If I hate the process, I have a valid reason not to do it again. If it’s not bad or if I have fun, maybe it will be something I incorporate into my regular routine.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Looking at this list, it feels really reasonable. Almost like stuff I should be doing already as someone that claims to care about the environment. I’ve got the next four weeks to find out if it’s as easy as I think it will be.

The thing that will ensure that this month is successful is planning, which is something I’m terrible at in my personal life. My professional life involves a lot of planning, so I feels like I use up that energy that by the time I clock out at the end of the day. But for July, I will take the ten minutes to plan my meals for the week, so I don’t break down and order take-out. From there we’ll be golden! Or at least I hope so.

This month may also lead me to discover that I generate waste in other areas of my life. As listed above, I am working on the assumption that most of my plastic waste is generated around food. So this will be interesting to see if that is actually the case or not.

Have you heard of Plastic Free July before? Is it something that you want to try this month? The website does have an challenge with tips and guides if you are looking for ways to reduce your plastic waste. I signed up and might share some of their tips in update posts. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

BOOK REVIEW: Voluntary Simplicity (2nd Edition) by Duane Elgin

autumn boots walking on wet wooden logs

As I was reading thing book I was complaining to pretty much anyone that would let me about how boring it was. They would ask why I’m bothering with it? I said I wanted to finish it so I had content for the blog. Now that I’m done, I can confidently say that the approximately 8 hours that I invested reading this book wasn’t worth it!

Voluntary Simplicity is a fantastic combination of being both boring and extremely pretentious. I went into this book with the intention of liking it. It was mentioned in The Story of Stuff, that I read over Christmas. I loved that book so I was hoping that this book would live up to the hype.

It did not…

Photo by Maksim Romashkin on Pexels.com

The thesis of the book is that everyone should reduce their level of consumerism and live more simply as a way to reduce their environmental impact. Sorta like everyone should be working to reaching ‘One Planet’ levels of consumption/way of living (If you’ve never taken the test, you should, the data is interesting and it explains the concept more).

In the introduction, he explained that living simple isn’t the same thing as poverty. I don’t love the way that he worded that portion, but it’s about how voluntary you are to the simplicity that impacts how much joy and longevity you will get out of it.

After that, there is over 75 pages of testimony’s about how great the voluntary simplicity lifestyle is, and it was so pretentious. It was like when you’re on a first date and you both just ordered appetizers. And that’s when you find out the person sitting across from you is the worst stereotypical of a vegan investment banker. That level of pretentious, self indulgent righteousness.

I can’t even say it gets better after that potion. The whole book is very repetitive. Chapter 5 got a tad better, there was a list of the negative impacts associated with over consumption. I enjoyed reading it the first time I saw it, then I saw a variation two more times. Same with the list of quotes for the major religions/philosophies that would support the idea of simple, sustainable living that I read in three chapters.

This book would have been better as mediocre content for a blog. There are so many  lists and quotes, that would have not been so boring or noticeable if they were spread out over numerous posts.

Here is one example that I screenshot:

The only part of the book I remember/thought about after finishing, is that one of the challenges of achieving a sustainable sociality is a lack of a “collective promise of the future”. Pretty much everyone is working on a different vision of how they want the future to look. Which makes it harder to work on the big societal/intuitional changes that the world (let be honest, first world countries) need to do to ensure we don’t destroy the planet as we know it. Unfortunately the idea it not developed much beyond what I just mentioned.

Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

The author listed some interesting concepts of what they believe the way of the future should be. Smaller, cohabitation communities close to farm land/food sources. I agree with the high level idea of a sense of community as a pillar of sustainability. However, I believe that their vision for sustainable communities don’t hold up if you think about it too hard. I don’t want to get into much detail about it since they didn’t really either.

The book doesn’t give you much information on how to actually go through the process of simplifying. It’s just a lot of Philosophy 101 mumbo jumbo with the words like environment or sustainability thrown in to make it ~spicy~. Ultimately, I believe that addressing overconsumption is a great way an individual can reduce their environmental impacts. I don’t think this book was the way to deliver that message. Also, that just a small piece of the puzzle of how we can try to solve the climate crisis.

PS. I read some reviews and they mention that the first edition is much better and the rewrites ruined the book. I will take their word for it, and I will not be reading the first edition to compare.