Week 1 Recap of Plastic Free July

Jul 9, 2020Lifestyle, Photo Diaries, Sustainable Living

Hello hello!

I’m here to keep myself accountable as I said I would… so here’s a recap of my week 1 doing the Plastic Free July challenge.

Prepping for the challenge

To prep for the Plastic Free July challenge, I had set some realistic goals and expectations for myself and did a really quick scan of my home to look out for ways I could improve. I got my zero waste kit ready, and I also received some mail I ordered last month which came just in time for Plastic Free July. One package was for Ian — I had ordered him a pair of upcycled boardshorts from Vissla made from coconut fibers. His other pair of board shorts have worn out so this was my little gift to him. The other package was for me, containing 7 pairs of period panties from Thinx. Just typing the words ‘period panties’ feels weird and almost TMI but I liked that the cardboard packaging the undies came in essentially said “we’re saying bye to stigmas around periods”. Anyway, I’m excited and feel more equipped to tackle the month.

July 1 — Didn’t use any new single use plastics (SUPs) on my first day! I’ve come to terms with the fact that if there are single use plastics that are already in our home (i.e. chopsticks from previous takeout orders), those would be okay as long as we reuse them and try to avoid new SUPs. I also learned how to make popcorn on my own! We got popcorn kernels in bulk last year and Ian normally makes the popcorn, so this was a win for me, because I was itching so hard to buy a bag of chips at the store for a snack and instead made this plastic free snack. I also started watching decluttering videos on YouTube because I’m in need of some minimization inspiration, and found these old bags in my closet that I never really use because they’re tucked away. Giving away the teal one, and keeping the fabric bag because I made it around 10 years ago!

Day 1 success rating: 10/10

July 2 — Decided to treat ourselves and get lunch from Henry’s Diner. I love their fried chicken and mashed potatoes, mmmm! We were only going to order one dish each, but we brought six of our food containers, and good thing we did because they all got used up! They always give really large Samoan sized servings, and they put each food item in a separate container. I love it because it always means delish now, and delish later when we have leftovers. We were hungry and excited, we got home and set it out like a big mukbang spread and put on our current favorite show, Community. We thought we did so well avoiding SUPs, but we later noticed they included two small plastic sauce cups in our container. A good lesson learned to include our own sauce cups in the future. Overall, valiant effort!

Day 2 success rating: 9/10

July 3 — We got the day off from work for the federal holiday. Ian wasn’t feeling too well, so I spent nearly the entire day with Gabby, and boy was it a busy day. We went fabric shopping at Island Image, and brought our own reusable bag, avoiding the plastic bag they almost gave us. Then we did some groceries, and it was a bit disappointing to really look around at the supermarkets and see almost all the produce wrapped in plastic and styrofoam. Most of our island’s food and supplies are imported by cargo ships from the mainland. I couldn’t avoid SUPs this day because I needed to get food supplies for the next couple weeks, and I did a bad thing and caved into my potato chip addiction, and got a jumbo bag of potato chips, since I was messing up anyway! I was also bummed to find a grab and go lunch box all packaged in plastic. For some reason, I didn’t think it would be, because it’s from a local cafe that really tries to make sustainable efforts. But of course, convenience, options, costs… they all play a factor here. BUT no hard feelings. I am also of the mind that we are imperfect, and all we can do is try our best, and minimize our plastic consumption as much as we can. It was a good eye opener though, about how jaded I’ve become (even though I’m a huge proponent for sustainable/low waste living) that I forgot how much of what we buy at the stores has plastic, and how abundant it is in our daily lives. I hope we can turn this part of the culture around. Later, I went with Gabby on one of her photo shoots, and then we stopped by Tradewinds for Charles’ birthday. He had so much yummy food! Luckily, Gabby had compostable paper clamshell takeout plates in her car, so we used those instead of styrofoam plates. I also had two pairs of chopsticks in my bag, and my reusable water bottled topped up, so we did pretty well considering!

Day 3 success rating: 6/10

July 4 — Learned to make almond flour pancakes with organic agave syrup at home! Ian suggested to add an over medium egg too, and I was skeptical at first but it tasted so good! Afterwards, Ian and I went out and bought a brand new washing machine! There wasn’t really much of any plastic, except for the stickers on the washing machine, and the large cardboard box was given to our neighbors to use as their kids’ new playhouse. I forgot it was the 4th of July, but I think I caught what Ian had the day prior. I was so lethargic that I took a nap on the floor of our living room, and Ian carried me to bed where I slept for most of the afternoon.

Day 4 success rating: 10/10

July 5 — Went to church, and my zero waste kit was all ready to go! We had toana’i (Sunday group lunch) after church to celebrate two church members’ birthdays. They had paper plates, plastic utensils, and plastic water bottles, and Ian and I looked at each other sideways and nodded. Ian and I grabbed our containers that we keep in the car for these “just in case moments”, I brought my own water bottle, and I also still had some leftover compostable utensils and chopsticks in my bag. We avoided SUPs the rest of the day!

Day 5 success rating: 10/10

July 6 — Did a good job I thought. I drank my morning matcha out of a reused glass pasta jar with a metal straw. I ate potato chips and shared on my daily instagram stories about how I felt a bit guilty about it, but I expalined, potato chips are my weakness! All other new SUPs were otherwise avoided. Gabby came over and hung out after work, and we started sewing her duvet cover with the fabric she bought at Island Image over the weekend. I was also stoked to get a few messages from friends on instagram who have watched my daily Plastic Free July updates, and how they were inspired to start the challenge too! I had some really good conversations about ideas on reusing glass jars for a variety of purposes like for propagating plants, as drinking glasses, to put homemade gifts into, or for shell collections. Those interactions have motivated me to keep sharing my sustainability journey on here and on instagram, and to try my best!

Day 6 success rating: 10/10

July 7 — A little change of scenery from the past few months, as I worked from my office in town on this day. Ian and I made plans to have lunch together at Ruby Red Cafe. We were going to eat in, but I still brought my zero waste kit in case I had leftovers. Which was a good call, because I did in fact have leftovers. I also had my own utensils with me in my bag, so I used that. Ruby Red Cafe has paper takeout boxes but it’s always good to avoid waste when possible. Plus, Ruby Red Cafe does this amazing thing where they will offer a 50-cent discount if customers bring their own reusable containers! I think it’s a great incentive, and another reason why I will always love supporting their small business. After work, Gabby asked me to go with her to Photogenix because she was going to pick up a photo frame. We went but turns out Photogenix was closed, so instead, we spontaneously decided to go thrifting at Savers Samoa just down the street. We were there for like, 2 hours! But we got some really good vintage pieces for suuuuuper cheap! And I’m very happy to say that I’ve made the shift to slow fashion over the years, including making my own clothes, repairing clothes I already own, and buying second hand. I’ve only had to buy some new pieces (like my Thinx period underwear) out of necessity, and I plan to wear and rewear them for many many many years.

Day 7 success rating: 10/10

Whew! What an update!

The Plastic Free July challenge is just that, a challenge. It has also been very rewarding and taught me a lot already in the first week. This is my third year doing Plastic Free July, and I feel renewed stoke for sustainable living. Hopefully we do better in week 2!


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