Plastic Free July – why I started Shop Zero

The Plastic Free July Challenge

I am often asked why and how I started Shop Zero. With Plastic Free July just around the corner, it reminded me of my own zero waste journey. And how my experiences led me to want to help others reduce their plastic-footprint.

It was back in 2016. I was already a committed sustainability bod, but I hadn’t really clocked the waste and plastic issue. Sure, I’d been buying apples from the UK and avoiding plastic bags, walking where I could, turning the lights off when not in the room etc. I carefully recycled stuff, but I hadn’t really focused on the waste that my family was generating. 

Then my friend lent me the book Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson. And my eyes were opened. 

Reading Bea’s book, I became super-aware of the waste we were creating at home. I also started studying what we were putting into the ‘recycling’ bin. I started to notice the plastic-based litter on our streets and in our green spaces. I was appalled when realised this would never fully go away. And then of course, I started to read about the damage that plastic causes in our Oceans (this was pre-Blue Planet). 

I needed to take action. But how?

I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. I really didn’t know where to start.

It was then that I stumbled across Plastic Free July.

I went for it wholeheartedly. I pledged, maybe quite naively, to bring NO plastic into the home for the whole month. 

Boy, was it hard! My kids were begging me for breakfast cereal rather than porridge (that came in a (recyclable) paper bag). I was madly making biscuits and snacks like there was no tomorrow. I was totally exhausted and we all felt deprived.  

But I learnt such a lot.

I quickly figured out that the world isn’t set-up to make it easy for us to reduce waste or plastic. And that I also wanted to raise awareness about the problems that plastic causes in our World.  I wanted to shop more consciously. And if I was finding it super hard to get bulk food and refills for my containers, then others would be struggling too. 

So, this was the start of my pop-up sustainable shopping events with Nottingham Zero Waste Collective. And the rest is history!

Maybe you’re feeling as overwhelmed as I was?

I know that during the pandemic, avoiding waste and plastic has not been so straight forward. But there are still changes we can make. We’re here to help.

Now I went all-out on PFJ. I went stratospheric and attempted to avoid ALL plastic (so damn hard). 

You don’t need to do this. How about starting a little smaller? You’re less likely to fall-off the plastic-free wagon and give up. Small changes are easier to embed and become long term habits that stick. 

Perhaps you could start the challenge at entry level – maybe that way you’ll create those all-important planet-saving habits. 

Now we’re out and about more, looking at your use of single use plastics (SUP) makes sense. These are the things that you may only have in your hands for a few minutes – but will be polluting our environment forever. Things like plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, drinks bottles, and most food packaging.

So today, I’m inviting you to start with some simple sustainable SUP swaps (now that’s a mouthful!). We even have a blog that can help you make a start. 

And you can join the PFJ #choosetorefuse Single Use Plastic Challenge here.

We need YOUR help, so we can help others make the change

We have the platform but this is a community effort. During PFJ, we’ll be posting lots of plastic-reducing tips via email (join our list) and over on our social media channels, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

So, tell me in the comments:

  1. YOUR top tips for reducing plastic and waste, and
  2. ANY problems you want to solve. 

And we’ll share your tips. Plus answer any questions that you have.

Now, don’t forget to join us on social media for more ideas and tips. 

Thanks, as ever, for all that you do, Sarah x

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