Why I Failed Plastic-Free July and Why I’m Totally Okay With It

Since starting my personal crusade against plastic last summer, I have been looking forward to Plastic-Free July like a five year old looks forward to the big man in red slipping down her chimney to bring her a barbie. I couldn’t have been more excited.

I made big plans – start bringing my scraps up to my friends compost, eat my way through the plastic-packaged items I still have, only buy fruits and veggies without produce stickers, bring my own containers everywhere, and, most importantly, cut out all plastic.

And then it all fell apart.

Let me start at the beginning. I am a teacher and, in my province, they do common exams. I applied to help correct these exams and so spent the first ten days of July in St. John’s which is three and a half hours from my home. The first hurdle I faced was the fact that I was not in my own home. I thought I could solve this by bringing some of my own food. This did save me a little but not in the long run.

While I did manage to bring my reusable baggies (made from cotton) and used them to bring my breakfast to and from work, I did not have containers for take-out food (which was a necessity since I did not have access to my personal kitchen) and I had to eat out quite a bit. Not a big deal, I made healthy choices and cooked what I could to save both plastic and money but it had to happen and takeout comes with plastic. There are next to no local places in the city that will put your food in your own containers and so, … plastic.

We live in a society where plastic is everywhere and virtually unavoidable and this little rock in the middle of the ocean that I live on has some pretty limited options when it comes to sustainability and eco-friendly options.

Could I have done better? Absolutely.

Am I okay with what I managed to achieve? Definitely.

My last post (a while ago because life is crazy) was all about zero waste guilt and how we tend to make ourselves feel bad for all the things we aren’t doing instead of recognizing all the strides we have made in reducing our personal plastic production, this is why I don’t feel bad about failing at the Plastic-Free July challenge. I have done so much to reduce my waste; I almost never forget my reusable bottles and coffee mug, or my grocery bags, I’m actively trying to reduce my food waste, I encourage my friends and family to use reusables and I started a local zero waste Facebook group.

The fact that I was unable to totally cut out plastic in the month of July is not the end of the world. If anything, this failure allowed me to recognize all the ways I can still improve upon my efforts and helped me to identify which areas of my life to tackle next!

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