I'm not sure if it's the increased awareness of a thing you're trying to avoid that makes you feel like you're attracting more of it into your life (much like the exercise where you're not allowed to think about elephants), but at times Plastic Free July seemed like it was raining plastic.

During July I finished off a lot of product that I bought 'pre-plastic avoidance' (a year or more ago in some cases). But, since then I have been able to find a plastic free (or less) alternative (eg shampoo, moisturiser, deodorant) for a lot of items. Overall - I intentionally bought much less plastic, but hidden packaging, freebies and impossible to find alternatives added to my tally. I did buy much less hard plastic than I think I've ever done before though (remember, no elephants).

Now free from my self-imposed restriction, it's tempting to go out and buy a bunch of things I've been avoiding, but I've developed something of a mental block on doing that. While life can get busy and making pizza bases or crackers from scratch just doesn't always work its way into my schedule, sacrificing a couple of hours during the weekend to visit butchers, delis and markets isn't that much of an ask either. As I said in my earlier post, it's really down to planning ahead - planning meals, researching alternatives, preparing BYO containers. And gradually introducing replacements where you can.

Here is a picture of my last 2 weeks, this time all grouped together (what I bought and what I finished off). This doesn't include the items I bought that I'm still using (mentioned below). So my July tally is far from plastic free, but it highlights how ubiquitous it is, even for someone actively trying to avoid it:

- A freebie bag of dogfood that came with the purchase of a larger (mostly paper wrapped) purchase. Unfortunately this smaller bag was plastic but I wasn't prepared to turn down what is essentially $20 worth of high quality dog food
- 2 bottles of lens cleaner that came with my new glasses (not pictured).
- Toothpaste tube. There's no brands in metal tubes (and all have plastic lids) that don't cost less than AUD$7-10. That's far too expensive for me and I do prefer the conventional brands. Also, a toothbrush head. I use an electric toothbrush (a gift) - I'll mention something about that later on
- Face creams and oils (not pictured). My new alternatives are in glass pots with only plastic lids.
- Spray on deodorant. I have a big stock of oils to finish, so I'll worry about an alternative then (but frankly I probably have 10 years' worth of oils to finish!)
- I am still setting up/renovating my living space, and bought two storage units this month. One was metal, one was eco-friendly bamboo,but both came with components pre-wrapped in plastic. Gah!
- Medication bottles (courtesy of my bacteria-coated hound who needed vet treatment this month)
- Glue (now there's a tricky one...)

So overall it's given me a to do list to work on. I'll stick with new habits and keep trying to develop more.It bears repeating that tropical Australia IS a challenging place to go plastic free. It's a food-hostile, bug loving, hot climate that's quite a way off the major distribution routes. Bulk produce options are limited and expensive and there are only a limited number of crops that are grown locally.

Some final successes for the month;
- Making a set of fruit and veg cloth bags from scrap fabrics
- Having a plastic free BBQ for my birthday, complete with reusable plates and cups, bulk-bought meat in BYO plastic tubs from the butcher and chopped fresh veg.
- Collecting a stash of empty large coffee jars from work and repurposing them as a great freebie matching set of produce jars
-  ALMOST getting through the entire month without dipping into the work stash of individually wrapped chocolate bars (I caved once)
- Not buying any plastic wrapped cheese, yoghurt, chips or crackers
- Reusing my ziplock coffee bags to go and refill from the only place that sells loose coffee beans in Darwin
- Getting to know a few independent businesses (butcher, fishmonger, deli staff etc) who were all interested in and supportive of what I was trying to do.

One final note - not only did I get a couple of comments along the lines of 'you're using plastic, I thought you were going plastic free', but also a point about using plastic items. While I'm personally making every effort to avoid new plastic (to greater and lesser effect), I don't think the plastic free message means voiding your life of all plastic items to find a bamboo or glass or metal replacement. As long as you already own something, you might as well make every effort to use it til the end of its natural life before sourcing a more planet-friendly alternative.

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