I call this picture ‘Still Life: Failure’

So July is over, and that means Plastic Free July is over. Thank god I can go back to getting takeaway coffee, using two straws in every drink and spending my spare 5p pieces on a plastic bag every time I pop out for groceries! (Even writing that as a joke made me feel guilty about pretending to luxuriate in single-use plastic, is that normal?)

But July has come to an end, and the plastic that I actually did use has been dutifully saved up, photographed, agonised over and is presented here for judgement.

It can be broken down into the following categories:

The regular offenders

Why can’t I give you up, whyyyy?

So this is the stuff that despite my best intentions I haven’t managed to give up yet. A big part of my day to day plastic rubbish creation relates to the fact that I am terrified of dentists and having to have stuff done to my teeth. This means toothpaste with fluoride (if someone has a plastic-free toothpaste recommendation that comes with fluoride PLEASE tell me), dental tape and possibly most shamefully, mouthwash. Part of me suspects that mouthwash is something they sell to gullible dental enthusiasts like myself, but the fear keeps me using it. I have cut down the mouthwash and flossing section of my dental route to once a day though, so technically I have halved the amount of waste it produces. That counts for something, right? Right?! Yeah ok, still rubbish, I know.

The other parts are a rare block of halloumi cheese, a couple of those pesky fruit stickers that sneak in when you aren’t looking, a water filter wrapper from the kettle because our water is hard as hell and ruins everything if not restrained, and the label from some yogurt. The last one is especially annoying as the yogurt comes in lovely reusable glass jars which I’m saving up for our first honey harvest. Writing to the company that make them to ask them to consider paper labels is on my to do list.

The one-offs

Emergencies and one-off purchases

The giant ball of plastic at the top makes me so angry! Not only is it huge, but it was so unnecessary – we borrowed a clothes rail from a friend whilst we didn’t have a wardrobe. On moving it, we accidentally snapped one part of the rail. So I bought my friend a replacement because you can’t give something back with a giant gaffer tape repair around it. Every single pole in the new packet came wrapped in this stupid plastic! So not only did I have to buy something I wouldn’t had to if I’d been more careful, I have pretty much doubled my plastic volume in the pile of shame.

Compost bin sticker – can’t feel too bad about that, it’s for composting food rather than chucking it in the bin.

Plastic chilli packet – another shame moment. We had a chilli emergency (if such a ridiculous thing exists) and these were the only ones I could find. I would feel better about the fact that they were grown locally, but they’re from a giant supermarket so probably went miles for processing and wrapping before being returned. Bad times.

Ikea label – needed a lamp, Ikea had a lovely one. Bought it. Stupid plastic stickers.

Packaging material


Bought some bamboo toothbrushes (which is a good thing, especially given the dental chaos above), requested for them to come wrapped in paper/cardboard. Paper came wrapped in sellotape. Frustrating. As an aside, Kate at Plastic is Rubbish found this excellent link to non-plastic tape, so that’s something for my own future packaging use.

And finally

What is this?

I have no idea what this is or where it came from. But it was in the pile with the other stuff, so I am now the owner of a small plastic circle.


So, once again, the summary is ‘could do better’. But I did do better than previous years and there are loads of things missing from here – I now get milk and juice in glass bottles, most of my cheese comes plastic free, herbs come from our local herb garden roundabout, lettuce, strawberries and cherries from the market, soap in bars and much more. As I said in my last post, do what you can. And if you can do a bit more than that, do that too 🙂



14 thoughts on “Plastic Free July: Not quite plastic free

  1. We’ve got a metal kettle defurrer that you can wash which might work as an alternative to the filter if you remember to wash out the accumulated scale more often that I ever do ( I even bought 2 so I had a spare to make this easier but still forget). Also got a tip off instagram to boil up half a lemon in your kettle and leave for a few hours which seemed to work a bit.


    1. Ooh, is the metal thing ones of those ones that looks like a little scourer? Do they stop tea being scummy? I ask because that’s the reason we went for the filter kettle in the first place, and I can’t see my OH being happy with a return to crusty tea!


  2. Can you find a mouthwash with flouride and then you won’t need a toothpaste with flouride? Other than that I think you did great!! I agree it’s ridiculous how many companies use unnecessary plastic to wrap items.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a thought! I should probably do some research into how the teeth use fluoride in different forms and could pick one of the two. Thanks for the thought!

      I wonder if future generations will look back at us and wondered how we could have been so mad as to use up this finite, polluting resource that makes a product that lasts forever, and then use it to make things designed to be thrown away!


  3. wow-I’m actually very impressed with how little plastic you did use! I’m afraid I overdid the single use plastic with our short camping trip – I’m currently drafting a post on how sometimes I can’t be bothered to be plastic free, esp with three kids:( On another note, I use homemade mouthwash: small jar of boiled (then cooled) water with a teaspoon of bicarb soda and as many drops of peppermint essence as I can stand. Doesn’t last forever and needs to be shaken before use,but does have that ‘fresh minty’ feeling.


    1. There’s more plastic lurking about in my life than the pic – but it’s either non-optional or in use before I move to an alternative! But thanks.

      And the ‘sometimes it’s too hard’ thing – yes, yes, yes! I wrote about that in my last post when PFJ was too hard last year due to family reasons. I think we are all doing everything we can without going mad, in a system that seems determined to thwart us!

      I will defo try the mouthwash recipe though, it looks nice and easy. I found a fancy-looking recipe elsewhere but it called for aloe vera juice which doesn’t appear to be readily available round here!


  4. It’s too easy to focus on how we’ve “failed” and forget the huge changes we’ve made already, so it needs to be said: You did great!

    On dental matters, I suspect mouthwash is a scam, but I’m probably biased since I don’t use it. And as for flossing, I was so proud of myself for finally getting into the habit of doing it regularly last year, but I read an article earlier this week saying no studies have ever proved that it works!

    (Also, is that a copy of American Gods I spy on your bookshelf? I believe I own the same version)


    1. I didn’t floss for one week once and got a tooth infection that was the MOST PAINFUL THING EVER. If it was an unfortunate coincidence, it has definitely worked on me!

      That is the book in question! He’s keeping company with the Chronicles of Narnia, the Philip Pullman trilogy, and Lady Cottingley’s Pressed Fairy Book.


      1. Oh no, the tooth infection was surely just bad luck – but I don’t blame you for flossing religiously after an experience like that!

        Sounds like excellent company for a book. (I had to google the Pressed Fairy Book… those pictures made my day!)


  5. That actually sounds like a nice recipe! Thanks so much for sharing. Will definitely have a look to see if I can source ingredients. A friend of mine gave me a pot of her homemade deodorant and it’s the best thing I’ve ever used, so definitely wanna get more into DIY things.

    I’ve reduced my flossing to every other day for the sake of waste and laziness since 🙂


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