I love a cracker. But purchasing those crunchy morsels plastic free is difficult. Luckily they are super easy to make, requiring only three ingredients.

The great thing with this recipe, is that it can be altered to suit you. Think of it as a base for you to go off and do whatever. I sometimes make a buckwheat and corn cracker gluten free alternative.

Simple Three Ingredient Cracker Recipe

Simple Three Ingredient Cracker Recipe

Ingredients
1 cup of flour (any flour you want)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons of cold water

How to put it together
Combine flour and olive oil in a bowl. The mixture will be crumbly. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time until you get a dough like consistency. Depending on the flour, you might not need all 4 tablespoons or you may need more. Break the dough up into four equal parts and roll out thin (around 2mm). I use a pasta machine but a rolling pin or even wine bottle will do the job.

I then cut the crackers to a desired shape, lay on a baking tray and put into the oven at 200C for 8 minutes. I'd advise putting the timer on your oven for 6 minutes to have a quick look to see how they are going as each oven is different. The crackers will be golden and crispy when done.


Simple Three Ingredient Cracker Recipe

If you want, add spices and herbs when combining the ingredients to make the dough. Try rosemary and thyme, turmeric and pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar...really any combination that tickles the taste buds. 

The oil is not necessary at all. I have made these crackers using only flour and water. If you are omitting the oil, more water will be required. 

Once cooled, store away in a glass jar and hide from family members so they don't get gobbled up. 
Many people don't realise Plastic Free July originated in Australia or even know who started it. So I thought I'd introduce you to the lady that dreamed up and runs Plastic Free July, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz. She graciously answered my questions on how Plastic Free July started, challenges faced and achievements so far.

For those that have followed my blog from the beginning, will know Plastic Free July was a catalyst for change in my life. Three years ago I participated in my first Plastic Free July challenge, saying no to the big four of single use plastic; plastic bags, plastic straws, coffee cups and water bottles.

Over the years I have directed people towards the challenge, whether it's July or not. I even saved up money last year to put an advert in my local paper. I love it that much. It's accessible, focusing on doing your best with what you have got.

Plastic Free July Rebecca Prince-Ruiz
Photo Plastic Free July

What prompted you to start the Plastic Free July movement?
Actually I didn’t intend to start a movement, it began with a decision to change myself. I work in waste education with the wonderful Earth Carers programme at the Western Metropolitan Regional council in Perth.

Every year we run the free Earth Carers course, taking people to local waste facilities. When I first visited a recycling facility where household recycling was being sorted I was overwhelmed. I had always felt like the good green citizen when I recycled but seeing the sheer volume of material and the complex and intense process to transport, sort and then again transport to the point of recycling (often in another state or overseas) made me suddenly question everything in my recycling bin and how I came to have it. Having the “recycling symbol” on plastic packaging doesn’t mean that it will be recycled. The number simply identifies what type of plastic the item is made from. Recycling rates depend on where the item is disposed, local waste management facilities and other factors. Last year Australia achieved an overall plastics recycling rate of 20%. Even if this was higher recycling will never be the whole answer, sometimes it’s cheaper to use virgin plastics rather than recycled content.

After this visit I decided to try and avoid purchasing any new single-use plastic the following month – which just happened to be July, 2011! With my colleagues and through our Earth Carers network around 40 people joined in the challenge which we later called Plastic Free July. The initiative has ballooned to the extent that in 2015, over 36,000 participants from 90 countries were involved, including individuals, schools, community groups and businesses. It has grown because people are concerned about the plastic pollution issue and this gives them something tangible to do about it. We didn’t know how to totally avoid plastic but it’s been a community effort and everybody shares their ideas and efforts and that inspires others.

Photo Plastic Free July

What tools does Plastic Free July offer someone who is looking to cut down on plastic?
Our website has lots of tips and ideas to live plastic free including a handy toolbox with an A-Z guide. There are ideas and alternatives for shopping, every room in the home and more. Over the years we have tried to gather ideas we have come across and make our campaign a central point to share stories. We don’t have all the answers ourselves so we link to other websites and online resources around the world…there is no point reinventing the wheel! Through our social media channels and a weekly e-newsletter during July people can share their ideas and their questions. I think the best thing PFJ offers is trying plastic free living in a community. It certainly isn’t easy but by joining the challenge you are not alone. Trying it in intentional way for a month is a good way to raise awareness and learn new habits.

...In 2015, over 36,000 participants from 90 countries were involved, including individuals, schools, community groups and businesses. It has grown because people are concerned about the plastic pollution issue and this gives them something tangible to do about it.

How can people get involved?
People can signup for the Plastic Free July challenge to refuse single use plastic at our website www.plasticfreejuly.org for a day, a week or a month. You will get support and won’t be alone. Have a look at what you use and pick a few items you commonly use to avoid. If you do end up using something don’t give up trying – focus on what you can avoid, not what you can’t. Don’t give up, its a challenge, not a competition – once your eyes are opened you will start to realise it’s everywhere. And most of all – have fun, it’s a learning experience and there are so many good things in life that don’t come wrapped in plastic.




Photos Plastic Free July
Have you faced any challenges with running Plastic Free July?
Our biggest challenge is not having enough time and resources to fully manage the campaign which has grown so far beyond our boundaries. It is resourced by a very low budget and a part time salary which has nowhere near enough capacity to respond to all the interest in the campaign or to develop it to its full potential. Having some wonderful volunteers and interns we have been able to extend the campaign to some degree but having a bigger team would allow it to go so much further, as I’m sure is the case with so many similar organisations.

If any readers would like to start up their own movement/campaign, what would you advise?
Make it something you are really passionate about. Talk to others and do a bit of research and try and connect with other people or organisations working on the same issue. During my recent Churchill Fellowship I met with many inspiring individuals and organisations working on the plastic pollution issue. If we connect our campaigns it avoids both duplication of effort as well as dilution of the message.

What are Plastic Free July’s top tips to cut back on plastic?
Remember reusable bags, water bottles and coffee cups and refusing unnecessary plastic such as straws and buy food in bulk. It can greatly reduce unnecessary packaging and is better for your health too. Shop at a markets and get to know local stores in your area which are happy to refill your containers. Let store owners know why you are purchasing a particular item (or boycotting) and spread the message by voting for your dollar.

Photo Plastic Free July

What are some of Plastic Free July’s achievements so far?
I think the greatest achievement of Plastic Free July is that it has offered a tangible, practical way for people to do something about the plastic pollution problem that so many people are aware of and are concerned about. People, schools, organisations and businesses have embraced the challenge and by sharing ideas and efforts there has been an incredible ripple effect. Seeing whole towns such as Margaret River in WA, Byron Bay in NSW and Raglan in NZ take on the challenge is inspiring, especially when you have businesses, councils, community groups, schools and the public all taking action in a connected way. Having people who take the challenge from personal behaviour change to spreading the message wider by writing, organising events and becoming change-makers in their communities is creating that ripple effect that is wonderful to see.

What are Plastic Free July’s plans for the future?
The aim of Plastic Free July has always been to get the message out to the wider community. Plastic pollution is a problem that has solutions – but it will take all of us working together to change the system to reduce the problem at the source. Personal behaviour change is important but we need our governments to take a stand and introduce legislation which addresses common litter items such as plastic bag bans, banning microbeads and introducing extended producer responsibility for packaging such as a container deposit scheme. I’d like to see Plastic Free July as helping to drive that change.


In February 2016 Rebecca travelled to the USA, the Netherlands, UK and Hong Kong on a Churchill Fellowship to spend two months investigating innovative programs of raising awareness, management and solutions to the plastic. Keep an eye out on the Churchill Fellowship website for her report. 
Upcycled pillow stuffing

Remember when I wrote about synthetic clothing fibers getting into our oceans? Since then, more articles have been penned and published on the subject. From science journals to bloggers, the unease has grown.

Knowing the plastic fibers of polyester, nylon and acrylic, even with my infrequent washing, were travelling down the drain and going into the ocean left me feeling irksome. I addressed this in the blog post last year hoping to kinda get over it. But I have been unable to shake it. Slowly, I have been collecting all my synthetic clothing into a pile in the closest preferring to wear items of my wardrobe made of cotton, wool and flax.

I had no intentions of donating my unwanted plastic clothing to a local charity store. I’d just be dumping a problem I had onto someone else.

Eventually ALL the synthetic shirts, dresses and skirts from my wardrobe were pulled from my wardrobe. Except underwear...it is near impossible to get underwear without some form of elastic. 

I decided to take inspiration from Sustainability in Style and turn used clothing into stuffing. Hers were for an upcycled fabric bolster, mine was to fill pillows. 



Unlike Sustainability in style, I did not cut mine into strips rather keeping them in as is to stuff into the pillows as is. They were still wearable clothes. It remind me of backpacking trips and camping holidays where I stuffed my clothes into a t-shirt to use as a makeshift pillow.  My synthetic clothes filled three pillow cases. 

The pillow casing was made from used hessian and they sit on an old church pew at the entrance to our house. If you came into our home, you’d have no idea that the pillows are stuffed with old clothes.




Today marks an anniversary; it was on this day three years ago I attempted my first Plastic Free July. It was a decision that led me to change my lifestyle. For the last two anniversaries, I have commemorated this day by writing in detail how I continue my plastic free lifestyle. I thought I’d keep up the tradition. You can read year one and year two for comparison.

I still can’t believe it’s been three years.

Happy Plastic Free July everyone.

Three Years Plastic Free
Photo by Anthony Strong

Personal care

Soap
We buy blocks of soap from The Australian Natural Soap Company. Unpackaged, simple and all natural.

Shampoo
I now wash with water only.

Toothpaste
Three years on and my toothpowder continues to clean my teeth just fine. The essential oils I use in my toothpowder have plastic lids. The quest to find these in bulk or without plastic lids has not been fruitful yet.

Toothbrush
Bamboo toothbrush. The bristles are partly made of plastic (nylon to be exact). I pull the bristles out, put these into my trash jar then compost the bamboo body.

Face moisturizer
Hemp oil. I finally, FINALLY, found bulk face oil that suits my very oily skin perfectly.

Over the last three years I have tried to find a replacement for my beloved rosehip oil. There have been trials of olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil and recently sunflower oil. All of these did nothing but leave me with breakouts or left my complexion looking ruddy. Hemp oil has been a savior. I purchased it from The Source Bulk Foods for those interested.

Body moisturiser
Sunflower oil. I don’t mositurise my body often. Once a week tops.

Deodorant
I keep them clean and smelling normal with a bar of soap, twice a day. Then follow up with my simple vinegar spray.

Razor

I have been waiting for the day when I can replace my plastic razor with one of those cool safety razors…but my old razor is holding up. Even though it is plastic, there is no point throwing something away that can still be used.

Perfume
I make my own, blending essential oil with sunflower oil.

Menstrual items
Still going strong with my moon cup and reusable cloth pads. Money saved over three years is… $390. $390!!!! That's huge.

Make up

I was making my own lip cream, cheek tint…I now use UrbApothecary cheek and lip stain. I have continued to make my own mascara, eyebrow powder and use plain tapioca flour as a face powder.

Three Years Plastic Free
Photo by Anthony Strong
Nail file
Nothing changed. I have a small selection that should last for life.

Dry Shampoo
Blend of tapioca powder and carob powder. I brush on with my blush brush.

Hair ties

I collected enough hair ties off the street last year that I’m now well stocked.

Body scrubs
The agave cloth gets another mention this year as my sole body scrub. A touch of lemon on my face for extra exfoliation happens time to time.

I have found that my mascara and eyebrow powder use dropped significantly. So far in 2016, I’ve only worn my mascara a handful of times. In late 2015, I tried several ready made zero waste mascaras, unfortunately none worked as well as my own. I don’t know why I’ve slowly started to ease up on using mascara. Perhaps I’m finally embracing my blonde eyelashes?

Everything bar the essential oils is bought without plastic. The bristles of the toothbrushes are made of partly plastic materials. I continue to look for options to buy essential oils in bulk here in Melbourne. Nothing has come along yet.


Grocery Shopping/Kitchen

We chiefly collect our food from the farmers market. Our farmers market is on each Sunday. Rain, gusty wind, blazing sun…we are there, basket and cloth bags in hand.

We have stopped buying meat and fish for home. There’s been no visit to the butcher or fishmonger. We are not vegetarian, nor planning to subscribe just yet. This has not been driven by the environment, rather something that has happened gradually. Simply, we prefer to eat vegetables and fruit at home. I put this down to the delicious veggies and fruit we get at our farmers market.

Our bread is bought at the farmers market when I can’t be bothered making sourdough. This is often. I do make sourdough crackers at home alot. We also buy eggs from the market reusing the cartons each time.

We visit the deli to get dips, arancini, veggie patties and others bits if we feel like it. It's more of a treat every other month. I buy cheese and butter at Curds and Whey. They have blocks of cheddar cheese without wax and store it at their counter without plastic wrap. I have given up on milk and yogurt. As I said last year, I've never been a big milk drinker or that into yogurt. I tried making nut milk once…it was not for me. It tasted too blah. Plus the price put me off. If I need to make a cake requiring milk, I will make and use oat milk. I prefer the taste and the price. I do have two awesome vegan bakeries near my house, so I generally leave my cake making to them. I don't buy from them because they are vegan, but because their cakes are the best in the area.

A trip to the bulk store for dry food items is carried out every few months for flour, nuts, lentils, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, popcorn kernels, dates and any spices we need. We are obsessed with dates. We might get some other things on top of these staples.

I would say our food style is to eat like paupers at home (read, simple unfussy quick meals). Then dine like dukes and duchesses when we go out. Locally and seasonally of course.

Everything is bought using our own cloth bags, jars, old plastic containers, wine bottles and stainless steel containers.

Dry food is stored in glass jars. Bread in the cloth bag it was bought in. Cheese wrapped in a tea towel. I buy food from the deli in old plastic containers only because it is easier for them. It is then transferred to glass jars at home.

Eating Out

A jar or container is usually in my handbag, so leftovers can be transported home easily. If there are leftovers. We try to order enough so there are none. My cutlery wrap sits nestled in the depths of my handbag also.



Three Years Plastic Free
Photo by Anthony Strong
Cleaning

I clean the house with:
  • Liquid soap (castile without the palm oil)
  • Bi-Carb Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Eucalyptus oil and clove oil
Liquid soap diluted with water and eucalyptus works as a surface spray. Same combination, with less soap, is for the floors. The bicarb is used with eucalyptus oil and soap to clean toilets. Diluted vinegar for mirrors and windows. Clove is on hand for mold.

There are a pile of cloth rags kept under the sink designated for house cleaning.

Clothes are washed with bulk bought clothes powder.

Dishes are washed with either liquid soap or dishwasher powder. I hand wash the dishes with a agave cloth (so handy!) and piece of cotton cloth. I then compost them at the end of their life.


Clothes

I have decided to remove as much of my synthetic (polyester, acrylic, nylon) clothing as possible from my wardrobe. I won’t ever be 100% free of synthetics as most clothing is stitched with a synthetic cotton blend. So my natural fiber clothing (cloth, silk or linen) won't ever be 100% synthetic free.

Rather than dump my unwanted synthetic clothing onto the local charity stores, they are going to be used as stuffing for pillows. I’m continuing to buy second hand clothing, but not exclusively. I did purchase locally made woolen jumpers last winter.


Health

This is a popular question – what do I do if I get sick?

First things first, I am not anti-plastic. I am anti the misuse of plastic. Plastic has done some great things for medicine. It has healed and prolonged life, made mobility easier, given the gift of hearing, walking - the list goes on and on.

Whenever someone asks me what to do, I tell them to make a decision based on what's best for them.

Three Years Plastic Free
Photo by Anthony Strong

How was the third year?

Naturally some changes have occurred from last year. I have found that I’ve relaxed on the need to make everything from scratch. Making things can be satisfying, but I do prefer to spend my time doing something else. While I loved my homemade lip and cheek tint, it’s nice not to have to make it. I’ve come to the realization the importance of supporting businesses who offer plastic alternatives. Not everyone can or wants to make everything from scratch and I don’t want to sell that idea to anyone.

There has been an explosion of places to shop plastic free here in Melbourne. My suburb went from having one bulk store to now having five. I’m interested to know what will happen going forward. My biggest dream would be to see more bulk stores or bulk co-ops open up in regional areas.

In the wrap up last year, I put fourth my aspiration to get from behind the computer to become involved with the local community, sharing face to face. It happened in far grander ways than I anticipated.

I’m not sure if I will do a round up next year. If thing changes dramatically, one will be written.

I wonder what and where I’ll be at my next Plastic Free July. Until then, let’s keep having conversations about reducing unnecessary plastic.
Bundanoon: Australia’s first bottled water free town


Bundanoon is a sleepy village, twenty minutes down the road from where I grew up. The town is known for hosting the biggest Scottish gathering in the southern hemisphere and being the starting point for exploring Morton National Park. Its other claim to fame is that of Australia’s first bottled water free town.

If visitors want water, they can quench their thirst with fountains and taps available throughout the town. It’s filtered and free. Some businesses sell reusable water bottles.


The back story
A proposal was put forth by Norlex to extract and truck water to Sydney that would then be bottled and sold. Action group Don’t Bore Bundanoon appealed to the local council to veto the companies plan to drill in their town. The group then took it a step further. To send a clear message they were not fans of their water being sold in plastic bottles, the town voluntarily made their town an example, by making it a plastic bottle water free zone. The town has been free of bottled water from 2009.

Visit Bundy on Tap to read more.


The Plastic Bag Free Victoria campaign has made ample progress. Volunteers have been working hard over the last nine months and I can proudly announce that we have gathered 8,000 signatures. 

Website launch

I last updated that we were keen to get a website launched. This came to fruition quickly, thanks to the tech savvy members of our group. The site allows fellow Victorians to download our paper petition. There is a handy map listing location of businesses where our petition is found. A resources page is available to help those who wish to go plastic bag free. We also list the Victorian communities that are plastic bag free along with a page dedicated to our supporters.



The Facebook page has helped us connect with other plastic bag free communities and campaigners in Victoria. We have used Facebook and an email newsletter to keep people up to date with the campaign. Having the various online portals allows for people to connect and share ideas with us.

Petition, petition, petitio
n

Volunteers have been hitting the pavement. We made the most of summer festivals and warmer weather earlier in the year focusing on areas where we knew that a signature is 70% likely. Even then, it was hard work.

Quite quickly, the two goals of gathering signatures and creating valuable education on reusable bag options has seen most, if not all, of our effort go to the former. Collecting paper signatures is demanding. And with volunteers giving up a couple hours of their week, we would rather utilize that time to get signatures and raise awareness about our need for signatures.

Time and effort are not the only reasons for us pairing back on education. It also came down to money. All of us have been dipping into our own pockets to pay for things as we need them. In the future we hope to apply for grants.

Along with canvassing face to face, a number of business host the petition in their stores across Victoria. This has been an effective way to drive awareness for our campaign. We have also had luck with sporting clubs, particularly rowing groups. Lastly, there are the invaluable individuals that have asked for or downloaded a petition, who then go out and ask fifteen of their family and friends to sign. It all adds up.

Download the petition here > plasticbagfreevictoria.org/petition/

We have set ourselves a deadline for the end of July to gather the remaining 2,000 signatures.



Starting conversations with local and state governments

Ultimately, the decision to ban plastic bags is resting in our local and state government buildings. Once we had a momentum with signatures flowing, it was time to start conversations with the councils.

We compiled local council email addresses from across Victoria (about 600!) with the plan to send a email altering them of our campaign. We also included the newly implemented Surf Coast Shire Council Plastic Wise Events and Markets Policy as an example and hopefully inspire other councils. The policy requires all events held on council land to refrain from distributing single use plastics. A first of its kind in Victoria.

The release of the Senate Inquiry into the threat of marine plastic pollution in Australia was utilised also, as one of the recommendations was the desperate need to ban plastic bags.

Meetings have been held with our State ministers too. Apart from the Greens, we have had no other firm confirmation of support. Hopefully by July, things will change…

Events coming up

We have our first fundraising event coming up on 10th July, here in Melbourne.

Plastic Bag Free Victoria are hosting a great film night and panel discussion. We are screening Bag It, a thought provoking look into our obsession with plastic bags. Following the film will be a panel discussion with special guest Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, founder Plastic Free July.

Book Your Seat > https://trybooking.com/LWOB



Comparing environmental campaigning to environmental blogging shines a light on the ease that comes with writing for an audience that is interested in reducing plastic and waste, versus canvassing people that have NO thought about ditching plastic bags. The latter is a reminder how different the two are.

Grassroots campaigning, chiefly talking to people, is the heart and soul of any movement.

This got me thinking about activism. It used to have an unsightly connotation for me. Violent clashes or being tied to a tree were the images that would come to mind. This perception might be one of the reasons why so many people are too afraid to label themselves one. An activist is a person who campaigns for some kind of social change and there are so many people out there who are asking for social change in very easy and approachable ways.

Gippsland Unwrapped
Tammy Logan lives in the rural area of Gippsland, Victoria. Without many bulk and plastic free options, coupled with a low awareness on plastic pollution, Tammy decided to take matters into her own hands and start educating through her role as a consumer. She kicked off the #bringyourowngippsland campaign with local businesses to point out the abundance of single-use plastic, encouraging other consumers to bring their own bags, containers, etc. to collect food and other products. Because the responsibility so often falls on the consumer, Tammy also speaks with local businesses, to promote selling food to customers who want to bring their own containers. Through her hard work and determination, she has started a conversation between business and customers on the waste that neither of them want to make.

Activist Abby
After seeing the harm plastic bags are causing teenager Abby used a school project to get a campaign going that would hopefully lead to a ban on single-use plastic bags in her hometown of Grayslake, Illonois. I have been following her campaign for the last two years.

Paint the City Green
Gaby is an activist of a different kind. She uses her passion for social change in her role as manager of the local farmers market. Plastic bags offered with every purchase, lack of unpackaged goods due to "food safety" laws, little to no composting due to lack of a facility and styrofoam take out containers galore are all areas Gabby is hoping to change. Rather banning everything, she is focusing on the reduction of Styrofoam setting a deadline for businesses to find an alternative. Any time a business brings Styrofoam to the market a verbal warning and a fine is given. Education has also been key in tackling this issue, making sure everything is fully explained.

Another piece of advice from Gaby is banding together with like minded people. Having a team of people to help work on a solution really does help. I agree with this point. The whole team behind Plastic Bag Free Victoria come from different walks of life, with varying skill sets. They also have passion, something that is needed in spades when it comes to asking for social change.
Plastic Free July kicks off in 22 days. Even with this being my fourth year participating, I still get excited when it rolls around. The challenge is reaching more people each year. Last year 36,000 people joined! Individuals, schools and business are participating from all over the world. As a result, more people are making the decision to take the plastic free challenge well beyond July, adopting it as a full time lifestyle. Along with the increase of individuals and families joining the plastic free movement, some popular myths have emerged too. It’s time to bust them.  

Busting the myths of plastic free living
Photo by Anthony Strong
Myth # 1 – Hoarding your plastic waste in a glass jar

I keep my waste in a jar, because it is a fun tool that I take along to talks with schools kids, community groups and businesses. It’s a visual example that allows me to show how waste can be reduced if we all started thinking differently. It is not a prerequisite for a plastic free lifestyle. 

My husband lives plastic free and does not keep his rubbish in a jar. Keeping a jar of plastic waste (the stuff that cannot be reused or recycled) will not make you more or less successful at living plastic free. However, it is a good way to understand what waste is being produced. If you want to do this, then consider using an old box, plastic container or bag. Plastic Free July encourage the use of a dilemma bag, essentially the same as keeping plastic waste in a jar.


Myth # 2 – Emptying the house of plastic

There is no rule anywhere declaring the removal for each piece of plastic from the home. My washing baskets are made of plastic. I still use old plastic food containers to collect my food. I have jars of pens made of plastic. Even this keyboard is plastic. The train I catch is mostly plastic.

I focus on not buying NEW plastic. It’s about rallying against the misuse of the wasteful plastics made. Resources went into making the plastic I already had. Keeping and using the plastic puts value onto a material that is often seen as replaceable.

Busting the myths of plastic free living
Photo by Anthony Strong

Myth # 3 - Cook everything from scratch and become a DIY master

For a time, I believed being plastic free equaled DIY master extraordinaire plus being able to cook everything from scratch. Making everything yourself, is not a requirement of the plastic free lifestyle. Usually, it is born out of the necessity for a particular food or product holds for each person. A lot of the items I used to make from scratch are not made at all anymore, because over time I deemed certain things unnecessary for me and my life. Questioning what is necessary kinda happens naturally.

For instance, I buy my hummus from a deli. I used to make it from scratch, and then I reassessed how much time I was spending on making it vs getting it ready made from a deli, using my own container. I could not find tomato sauce anywhere in bulk. I made my own for a while but then quickly realised I did not enjoy making it enough to keep doing it constantly. I like tomato sauce, but it’s not a necessity for me. However, I love making pasta and my toothpaste. I originally went down this path because I saw other people doing it. It’s that old Keeping up with the Joneses mentality. Thankfully with some practice, I’ve managed to shake it off.

Depending on what is available, some items might need to be made, like cleaning products or making something like hummus or tomato sauce if it’s something you need. Mascara and lipstick can be bought ready made in reusable or compostable packaging too. I have a post about this coming up soon.


Myth # 4 – Too expensive

When I completed my first Plastic Free July, I did not buy anything to complete that challenge. In fact, it was not until after my second year of living plastic free that I started to invest in reusable goods outside of what I already had. These have been handy, but are not absolutely needed.

I sell kits on my blog and have made a listicle of items that would be helpful, simply because I want to be of service. These are more for the people who don’t have time to make their own bags or cutlery wraps or can’t find second hand items. None of them are necessary. And if you can, find items that are second hand first.

The premise of Plastic Free July is to avoid NEW single use plastic. As I said before there is no rule that you are required to remove all plastic from your life. Truthfully, I still use plastic containers from that first Plastic Free July to collect food. Use up your old plastic, just try not to buy new.

Below are simple hacks to reduce plastic without forking out any money.

Reusable shopping bags
If you don’t have a stock of reusable bags gathered from various stores over the years, ask friends and family if they have any to spare. Another way is to use a pillow case.
Money spent = 0.

Water bottles
Work in an office like I do? I use a glass. Out and about, try reusing an old glass bottle or pop into a café. Another is to ask friends and family if they have any reusable bottles lying around their home. Clams exchanged = 0.

Take away coffee/tea/hot chocolate cups and take away food containers
Try this revolutionary idea, sit in. Relax, let someone else do the dishes. I’m very passionate about sitting in. We are worth taking 10-30mins out of our day to sit down and relax. Or, grab some of your plastic or glass containers that are sitting in your cupboards and take these with you. See if the local restaurant/cafe will fill it for you. Call ahead, have a chat about your desire to use your own containers. I keep a three year old take away container at my desk, only using on days I did not bring my lunch.
Coins = 0.

Take away cutlery and straws
Plastic takeaway cutlery is an easy swap. No doubt there is a a knife, fork, spoon and even chop sticks sitting in a draws at home. Grab a cloth napkin, roll cutlery into the napkin and put a rubber band around it. A pencil case works well too. Straws are not necessary. Drink will taste perfectly fine without a straw. Trust me.
Moolah = 0.

Another is the beeswax wraps. They are super handy but not a necessity. I love using tea towels, plates on top of bowels and containers I already have to store my leftovers.

This lifestyle does not have to be expensive at all. It's up to the individual to make that choice.


Myth # 5 – One person’s actions won’t make a difference

OUR actions, big or small, always make a difference, because simply every action, has a reaction. As Jane Goodall said, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you.” 

Replying with the phrase “I don’t need a plastic bag, I have my own, I’m trying to reduce my plastic” has the potential to impact many. Saying no to a plastic bag, plastic straw, plastic bottle, will keep one plastic bag, one plastic straw and one plastic bottle out of landfill. That one less bit of plastic has been kept out of the environment for the next generation to deal with. Declining the plastic bag, straw or bottle, sends a message to others. 

The clerk at the store and a person standing in the checkout line, could hear the declaration and think about their plastic footprint. It’s a ripple effect. Moving away from single use plastic impacts generations of life. So while you might not see an immediate difference, the kids of today will in their futures. 


What other myths need to be busted? If you are looking at moving towards reducing your plastic, what about the lifestyle holds you back? 


Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives and challenges people to do something about it. You can sign up for a day, a week or the whole month and try to refuse ALL single-use plastic or try the TOP 4: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws.


The wedding has come and gone. When people told me the wedding would pass quickly, it was true. We spent our two day honeymoon cleaning, composting and recycling, before returning to work. Our official honeymoon is not until July. I will share the ins and outs of the big day soon. The post is all ready to go; I’m waiting on the photographer to pass the photos onto us.

I was on creative overdrive in the week leading up to the wedding, finding time to upcycle two pairs of shoes into homes for succulents, foraged during a bike ride along the Maribrynong River.

Both shoes were worn right down. They have been firm favorites in the last six years. My shoe repair magician reluctantly confessed they were beyond help, letting me know that I should have come earlier. I could not think of an excuse other than I was busy wearing them. Lesson learnt.

Initially I had hoped to recycle the shoes or pass them over to Soles4Soul's, but my shoes were not gently worn. Each shoe had holes in their soles, some more than others. There is also Shoes For Planet Earth. Unfortunately, they only take sport shoes.  It was during a rushed cleaning session of our home the day before the wedding, while looking for somewhere to house the succulents; I decided to put plants into the shoes, placing them at the front door of our home. 

Upcycle shoes


The quirkiness makes me smile when I see them. I have not had to buy new shoes to replace them either. I had a pair of converse that I reserved for special occasions. These have now become my go to shoes, especially in winter.

What other ways could I have upcycled them?

Plastic Free July is approaching soon. It’s hard to believe this is my fourth Plastic Free July. Lately, I have been busy with talks at schools and businesses, plus the Plastic Bag Free Victoria campaign.

I will be away on my honeymoon during the last half of Plastic Free July. Before we venture north, I will be hosting a movie and panel discussion with one of the founders of Plastic Free July. Details are coming soon. Look out for some posts later in the month, on getting ready for Plastic Free July too.