This is how I started my Plastic Free July challenge, shopping. My Jeep is kept stuffed with reusable grocery bags, yet so many times I find myself already in the store before remembering to bring the bags with me. Now I am moving the bags up to the passenger seat so they are in my face so to speak.
Walking into the store (with my bags), I think about all the bags and plastic trash I see along the roadway...places I am cleaning up through a green stormwater infrastructure program I manage at work. During the rainy season, the trash floats along the roadway until its captured in a green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) facility (best case) or in a drain inlet that leads directly to our creeks, rivers, and ultimately the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean (the more common worst case). I was recently at the beach trying to decompress from work, but I kept stepping on plastic trash and watched mylar birthday balloons wash ashore. It's time to do my part beyond my work practice.
For veggies and fruit, I brought reusable, washable, mesh bags that made it easy for the cashier to see through, much like a plastic bag. I chose products in cardboard over their plastic competitors, such as eggs, milk, and butter. Glass jars are also an option for some items, including condiments. Realizing I was almost out of shaving soap, I opted to go old school; a shaving bar that fits into a mug instead of products in a plastic tube.
There were items I needed but could not avoid plastic: the cartons of yogurt and chicken stock, and the plastic wrapped cheese. Aside from the cheese I could easily make my own chicken stock and probably the yogurt, too. As I shopped, I thought about just how many things I could make to avoid buying something in plastic: English muffins, tortillas, even potato chips...or just not buy/make them at all to lower my carb loads! Cheese and meats are the most challenging, which means breaking the habit of buying plastic wrapped products off the shelf and go directly to the butcher and have them wrap selected meats and cheeses in butcher paper instead. However, this presents yet another challenge; most butcher counters wrap everything in plastic then the paper to avoid any leakages. Perhaps the best thing to do is eat less meat, which I am also prepared to do.
I am a day early for Plastic Free July Challenge, but if this first shopping experience is any indication, the results may have additional benefits. No heavily processed foods, spending more time in the kitchen, and eating healthier. I hope you will join me in this endeavor.