Plastic Free July Update: 10 mistakes I've made

When I started Plastic Free July, I felt pretty prepared. I had my bamboo toothbrush, stainless steel razor and, most importantly, a shit load of mason jars at the ready. I researched where my nearest farm shops and bakeries were so that I could buy fruits, veggies and bread that wasn't wrapped in plastic. And, of course, I followed about a thousand zero wasters on Instagram and Youtube to help me soak up all of their wisdom. I learnt a lot.

As July 1st rolled around I felt like I knew exactly what I was avoiding for the next 31 days: Mainly disposable food, drink and cosmetics packaging. What I didn't (and probably couldn't) prepare myself for though was all of the hidden plastics that I would encounter. More than once now I've bought something that I thought was completely innocent and haven't realised until I've got home that I actually purchased plastic unintentionally. It's everywhere and it can be a sneaky little bastard!

However, I'm trying not to beat myself up about these slips. It's all a learning curve.

Why I'm learning a second language

Sometimes, when I write things online, I kind of feel like I'm creating a contract with myself. Putting thoughts into words is itself a powerful act. Putting those words onto a platform that can be read by actual people: now that's how to create a big ol' dose of accountability. So, here it goes.

I'm learning Greek. And not just that, I'm going to become fluent. Granted, that's something I've been saying for the past three years, but this time I really mean it. I'm not just going to run into this with massive amounts of enthusiasm, practise every day for two weeks and then slowly let it fizzle out as I pick watching conspiracy theory videos over flash cards. Oh no, my friends. This time, I'm telling you, which means it's serious. I give you complete permission to badger me about it. In fact, I beg of you to hold me accountable. Ask me to recite the Greek alphabet when you see me! Demand that I count to 10! Dangle my phone over the edge of a cliff and tell me that it's going to be beyond repair if I can't order a coffee with two sugars and no milk in a Greek restaurant!

Learning a second language is no longer just a goal for me, but one of my main priorities. Here's why.

Plastic Free July Round Up: Week One

When I decided to take part in plastic free July, I was under no illusions that it would be easy. However, I didn’t expect to get to the end of day one and already have slipped up. As someone who has been trying to reduce my plastic waste for over a year now, I thought that I had all of the tools I needed to at least get past the 24-hour mark. And yet, there I was, fallen at the first hurdle!

If there’s one thing that this challenge has drilled home to me so far, it’s that plastic is a huge part of our culture. It is literally everywhere. I’ve realised that plastic is so much a part of our everyday lives that using it is almost subconscious. Sure, I can go out into the world with my stainless-steel straw, reusable water bottle and good intentions at the ready, but if I let my mind wander for more than 5 seconds I somehow acquire a piece (or several pieces!) of disposable plastic. I’ll be going about my day, probably thinking about my next meal and boom: I realise I’m carrying the enemy with my own bare hands.

So, I suppose the biggest lesson from week one is that I need to stay focused, at least until I’ve made these plastic free swaps into ingrained habits.

Despite the fair few slip ups, I’m still pretty proud of what I’ve achieved this week. There’s absolutely no doubt that my waste has been cut down. A lot. And even when I have made mistakes, I’m confident that it’s all making me more equipped to combat the rest of the month. Maybe by the end of the challenge I’ll actually be able to say that I’ve gone 7 whole days without using a single piece of disposable plastic! Until then, it’s time to talk about where I went wrong, as well as what I did well throughout the week. It’s been one hell of a learning curve, people. 

I'm doing Plastic Free July! Here's how to stay updated

Despite the fact that I tentatively call Curly and Wordy an “ethical lifestyle blog”, I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m not perfect. I don’t live in a mason jar-filled loft, ride a bike everywhere, shop solely from slow fashion retailers, have a completely vegan diet and only buy my produce from independent, local shops that are zero-waste. Instead, I sometimes drive unnecessary journeys out of sheer laziness, I adore smoked cheese and my fridge definitely has more throwaway plastics than it does mason jars. I would love to say that the first scenario was my reality, but it’s just not. I’m learning (and improving!) every day.

I write my posts so that I can share my slow and steady journey, not so that I can brag about being a beacon of ethical living.

That being said, I welcome every opportunity to shift up my habits for the better and to talk honestly about my experiences. So, I couldn’t resist trying out Plastic Free July. I thought that it would give me the kick up the butt I need to seriously reassess my day-to-day plastic usage. Sure, I’ve invested in a glass water bottle and I tell the internet about my love for my menstrual cup on an embarrassingly  regular basis, but I’ve definitely got a long way to go. Why not start making more changes now, alongside a community of people who are also dedicated to refusing single-use plastics for a whole month?

I’ll be documenting the highs and lows of my Plastic Free July journey so that we can all laugh at my rookie mistakes together. Here’s how you can keep up-to-date:

How to recycle your bras

Whether you consider yourself more of a Shakira ("my breasts are small and humble so you don't confuse them with mountains") or a Nicki Minaj ("Ooooh boobs boobs boobs boobs lotta boobs"), the chances are that you've probably changed bra size at some point in your life. Suddenly your chest decides to shrink/grow one day, you have to buy a whole new bra-drobe and you're left with only the knickers to your matching sets. It's an emotional roller coaster and enough to put anyone off being a grownup and getting themselves measured.

I for one am massively guilty of not having actually known my bra size until recently. I kind of just...guessed. Surprise, surprise: estimating was nowhere near as accurate as actually getting measured by a professional. It turned out that I had been living my life as someone a whole two cup sizes smaller than I am. But as if buying the new bras wasn't enough, I was also left with the question of how to dispose of my old ones responsibly. Since embarking on my journey to living more ethically, I've learnt that 3/4 of consumers send their old textiles straight to landfill instead of choosing a more sustainable option. I didn't want to add to that statistic. So, I got researching. I've found some pretty bloody incredible ways that we can all stop our uncomfortable, ill-fitting or falling-to-pieces bras from going to a landfill and I thought that I would share.

An Ethical homeware wishlist

When I daydream about my future house (which happens on a pretty regular basis), I see a beautiful, eco-friendly haven. It's full to the brim with plants, jars upon jars of food with no plastic in sight and independently made trinkets that bring me nothing but joy. You can keep your chandeliers and flat screen TVs in the bathroom, I'll just have a vast collection of reusable straws, thank you very much! 

After three years of living in student accommodation - which meant buying everything as cheaply as possible because it would inevitably get broken after nights out - I am so ready to invest in lifelong pieces. In fact, the thought of having some decent quality, ethically made homeware makes me actually tear up. So, in anticipation of moving house (and apparently of being a millionaire) I decided a wishlist is in order. If you're looking for a way to make your house that little bit kinder, you're going to love these beauties. 

We can dream, right?

Fashion Revolution Week: Tips for ethical shopping as a student

Becoming an ethical shopper can feel intimating. It can feel overwhelming, near-impossible and, perhaps most noticeably at first, it can feel expensive. Bloody expensive. In a world where we're so used to being able to buy a whole outfit (including shoes!) for less than £100, the prices on ethical clothing websites are eye-watering in comparison. And that's even more so the case when you're a student who is acutely aware of how many bowls of pesto pasta you could get for that money.

The fact of the matter is that we've forgotten the value of our clothes. As I've spoken about many times before, we're now a part of a fast-fashion world in which we expect to get garments for the cheapest possible price, at the expense of factory workers, the farmers that grow raw materials and our planet. Things need to change and we can all do some pretty simple things to be a part of that shift.

Knowing that so many of my readers are students and, frankly, that the majority of normal people just might not be able to afford to pay the prices of ethical fashion brands, I want to celebrate Fashion Revolution Week in a way that won't cost you an arm and a leg. I thought I would share my tips for becoming an ethical ethical consumer on a budget, some of which won't even cost you a penny!