Oh yes, going plastic free that sounds like it’s right up my alley! I’ll take the challenge and not bring any more plastic into my home.
I started off feeling very pumped and ready to go, thinking to myself I will use the metal water container I have for the gym instead of a plastic one.
Until I realised I needed groceries and a few supplies a bit later. I had my own reusable bags-I figured I will see what I can get.
This is going to be harder than I thought. Almost everything had at least one layer of plastic involved in packaging: milk, bread, even cereal had a plastic bag inside for freshness.
Cringing, perhaps let me try fruits and vegetables, I can put those in one bag and just have several bar codes. The attendant at the weighing machine had other ideas: everything either had to go in individual plastic bags with the corresponding bar code or had to be put into plastic netting material.
This is ridiculous!
The open-air market was no better as everything was put in plastic bags even just to weigh them.
I only found one place that does delivery that packed all produce in paper bags (except for eggs, meat, milk and fresh juice). I did not dare to ask about the pre-cut vegetables fearing those would come in plastic wrapping.
Even when I tried to hydrate when out and about and decided to buy some fresh juice as I waited for someone, that came in a disposable plastic container with a plastic straw.
Time to re-evaluate where I am going with this, as I currently seem unable to avoid plastic in its entirety. Perhaps I can begin the process and take the only plastic item at a time and do away with it, seems a bit more plausible. More importantly, use the plastic free July challenge as a catalyst to begin to break some of the plastic habits that I know I have.
And perhaps this way even if I have the occasional hiccup the aim is to have a behavioural change and a change in habit. A change in habit needs around 60 days before I can be sure I have actually learned the habit, or in this case unlearned it.
So step one: carry your own reusable plastic bags for shopping.
I’ve been trying to do this since January more seriously and there have already been a few hiccups, such as unplanned purchases. One such unplanned purchase was for maize flour that is one of the staple foods in Kenya; we have been having a serious shortage of the commodity lately, with people being limited to buying only certain amounts of the commodity when you actually find it. That I ended up using one of the bale bags (that was plastic) until my friend was nice enough to loan me her bag.
Early on in this no plastic bags experience, people mocked me for carrying my own shopping bags especially the Packers and cashiers in the shops, until the government Gazette notice effective August 28th, 2017 banning single use plastic carrier bags and flat bags, flat bags are generally used as garbage bags.
Step two: carry my own water bottle
A work in progress and I’m making my own smoothies at home so I don’t have the urge to buy any from the local juice vendor. This will hopefully reduce the number of disposable straws and single use plastic containers.
I have already cut out soda bottles, juice bottles from my shopping list ages ago, when I do takeaways if possible I give them one of my containers. The containers are not plastic free but at least there is no more plastic coming in.
Many people who have gone plastic free use metal containers called tiffin carriers something I am very familiar with growing up as it was the most durable option.
This is as far as I have got as I am still searching for plastic free packaging solutions within Nairobi. I have yet to find alternatives for items such as the spray bottle (sans plastic), shampoo and detergent to name a few.