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The plastic we don’t see 👀

Behind the scenes

We’re now over a week into Plastic Free July. Whether this is your first time taking up the challenge, or you’ve participated in a Plastic Free challenge several times, you’ll know it’s definitely not easy!

During the first challenge your eyes may be opened to just how much plastic is used to package products. There may be items you hadn’t considered before to be a problem, thinking it’s okay because at least those items are being recycled.

Once you get further into the challenge and dig a little deeper into the issues surrounding plastic pollution, you’ll soon realise that recycling plastic is just putting a band-aid on the problem. We cannot recycle our way out of the plastic pollution problem.

For most experienced challengers, Plastic Free July becomes a month where you try harder to reduce. You’re at a stage where your eyes have been opened and your consciousness has been awakened — there’s no turning back now!

When you’ve reached this stage it’s likely you already have a list of the best places to shop where you can avoid plastic, and regularly visit those stores that’ll go out of their way to help you along the journey. And here’s where it gets interesting!

A personal experience

I recently visited my local bakery, a place where I purchase my weekly loaf of bread. I shop here because I know my bread will be placed in a paper bag (a bag which is then used in the kitchen to collect any waste that can’t be composted). They’ll even happily place my loaf of bread into your reusable bag if requested. I also occasionally like to grab a pie or spinach roll when I’m wanting a quick snack. These are also placed into paper bags. None of these products are served in single use bags so checks all the plastic free boxes, right?

Out of sight, out of mind

The saying out of sight, out of mind couldn’t describe more clearly what I was soon to learn. On this trip to the bakery I decided to grab a quick pie. Unfortunately, there were no veggies pies left. Sensing my disappointment, the wonderful shop keeper offered to provide me with a cold pie that I could heat up at home. Perfect I thought, that works for me.

It wasn’t until I got into the car to look at my cold pie that the disappointment set in — the pie was wrapped in plastic! And there it was, after all these years of getting that quick snack at the bakery because I thought I was avoiding single use plastic — I’d actually been buying pies and veggie rolls that were wrapped in single use plastic!

Lessons learned

While I won’t stop shopping at my favourite bakery for a loaf of bread, I will have to skip the pies and rolls from now on. I don’t think the bakery are out to trick anyone into thinking their products are plastic free. It was just my assumption that the products were actually baked in-house. In the future I’ll be sure to check if the products I’m purchasing at bakeries and coffee shops are made in-house or if they are delivered pre-packaged. By doing this I’ll lessen my disappointment, it’ll create awareness with the store that people won’t buy if it’s packaged in plastic and I’ll feel better knowing that I’m not contributing to growing problem of single use plastic!

Have you encountered any unexpected plastic during your plastic free journey? I love to hear about it . . . share your story below.

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Catherine Anne Earle

Author Bio - Catherine Anne Earle

Thanks for reading about living a plastic free lifestyle, I'm Cathy the founder of EORTH Australia, an online store that stocks only plastic free products.

I started EORTH after participating in a Plastic Free July many years ago. Prior to that first Plastic Free July I considered myself to be a fairly environmentally conscious person. A few days into the Plastic Free July challenge I soon became awakened to just how damaging plastics were to the environment, and that although I was conscious of my consumer choices, plastic was still very high on my list of consumables.

After lengthy searches for alternatives to plastic products I soon realised that there were a lot of eco stores to sold some plastic free products, but very few really got down to the heart of the plastics issues and said a big hard "no" to selling products that contained plastics — and that is exactly what EORTH is all about.

I have a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Management and was the owner and founder of Sun Peaks Independent News, a community newspaper based in British Columbia, Canada.

After moving back to Australia several years ago I now reside in my hometown of Cairns and operate EORTH in the beautiful beachside suburb of Palm Cove, Queensland.

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