Plastic Free July – zero single use plastic

by Chris Kameen on June 30, 2014

Plastic Free JulyWhilst Liz was away I decided to see if I could go through the whole time without purchasing any single use plastic at all. This was pre-cursor to the plastic free july campaign that is just about to start. I also wanted to try and keep my life as ‘normal’ as possible, ie still be part of the consumer/retail society, this is my story…

In the last 10 years or so I have been super conscious about packaging and trying to do the ‘right thing’ and not getting straws and take away coffees where I can help it, but never have I been super strict on single use plastic before. Two weeks – how would I go?

After 1 week I was going well, I had managed to eat my way through most of the plastic packaged food that was in my fridge and store cupboard, I had bought milk in cardboard cartons and bread straight from the bakery – unsliced! We always have some meat frozen in the freezer and so I was doing ok.

First major snag i have hit was when I ran out of food for Saila our little dog – she’s pretty good at eating scraps from the dinner table that I save up, but we also like to feed her on a raw meat and veg diet, which comes in prepacked little patties called “BARF” (which it does look like!) I didn’t want to change to a tinned food or dry food so I have made my first concession for my dog!

8 days in – I have now managed to buy sausages from the Harris Farm on site butcher wrapped in greaseproof paper. I think they actually thought this was quite interesting, and approached my predicament with gusto and enthusiasm! Perhaps if more of us asked for this – this would become the norm! I have also now made some flapjacks… having run out of biscuits and crisps pretty early on, I was desperate for some treats – flapjacks are so easy and have an obscene amount of sugar and butter in them!

What has become really interesting is the amount of rubbish for landfill that I am now not creating. Virtually nothing is going into my bin, all food scraps are either going to the worm farm or to Saila. Everything that can be recycled is recycled. Also interesting is why people used to have beards.. I haven’t plucked up the courage to buy or use a cut throat razor yet, but that seems like the only potential option which might come without single use plastic packaging, though I bet if I try and buy one it will be well wrapped!

Tomorrow I’m going to try and buy cheese – I’d like to get something wrapped in wax, but I don’t want to spend more than $10, so it may be wrapped in paper if I can. I’m also going to try and buy some mince, bacon and chicken… Lets see how we go.

So today – I have managed to do a big shop. thankful for the Manly Food Co-op, but still not managed to buy any cheese. Buying meat wasn’t enjoyable this time, the butcher didn’t seem that impressed and didn’t have any ‘butchers paper’, but I was able to fill a tub that I’d brought with mince.. so couldn’t buy bacon. I popped into the Deli for cheese but short of buying a giant wheel, everything had been pre-cut and wrapped… therefore no cheese.

13 days in I have still not bought a single piece of single use plastic (except for Saila’s dog food), crying out for some crisps!

So what has this got to do with sailing… well quite a lot really, there is so much plastic in the water that has now entered the ecosystem that we need to take action. When trawling the web it is difficult to verify the accuracy of statistics but these some pretty credible

  • 46,000 pieces of plastic for every square mile of Ocean which increases to
  • 1,900,000 pieces of plastic per square mile in the Pacific Garbage patch

I think as sailors we have more of a responsibility to take care of the oceans and if I might make a suggestion try giving up single use plastic for just a few days or do one shop at the supermarket with no plastic… you will be shocked. In the coming month we have “plastic free July” as a challenge and if what I have suggested seems hard then they have a simpler option that anyone can follow.

At Sydney Sailing School I’ve done quite a bit of stuff with The Twohands Project  which focus on beach cleans and education. All of this helps. There are lots of things that we can do as Sailors and Sailing Schools not least follow the guidelines from

The Green Blue and

Sailors for the Sea

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