Plastic-Free July: Week 1

Having participated in Plastic-Free July before, I thought it would be easier to manage my use of plastic and limit the amount of waste from it. Although I’ve taken significant steps to reducing my plastic use by purchasing Lunchskin reusable bags and Prepworks’ Collapsible Storage Bowls, I found that completely avoiding the consumption and waste of more plastic was not always easy, especially with my graduate school assistantships adding more work for key events and summer school challenging me with a vast amount of reading and analysis. Although I wish I could report overwhelming success, I found I had a few setbacks. Here are some missteps I encountered so far during Plastic-Free July:

(1) Making last-minute decisions to eat out and grab a quick bite for dinner made it harder to avoid using plastic silverware restaurants provide. At first, I felt guilty for having to use plastic, but there are times where you have to be forgiving of yourself and remember that living a more sustainable lifestyle is not about perfection. Even the person with the seemingly most eco-friendly lifestyle messes up on occasion and forgets to bring a refillable water bottle.

(2) Going out for July Jamboree didn’t sound like it would be problematic when it came to plastic. However, I forgot a water bottle of my own and most of the food stands used one type of plate: Styrofoam. Does this mean I say, “No” and reject their plates? I found that to be unreasonable, but it was a reminder to me that having these experiences aren’t something I do every day. Going out every once in a while should be a time to enjoy myself, but considering a few reusable items to take with me when I’m eating at a food stand might not be a bad option.

(3) To welcome my company’s new director during a staff lunch, I found myself once again using Styrofoam plates and plastic forks provided by catering. While it was yet another scenario of remembering to balance sustainability with life and welcoming my new boss, it was also a time I thought about using a napkin to carry a mini-sandwich or finding silverware at work that I can wash instead of tossing out after lunch. Of course, this may all be way too complicated for a work lunch, but it was a small note for me to remember to find ways to implement reusable items for eating.

Besides these three incidents, Plastic-Free July is going fairly smoothly. As I’ve found so far, where this month gets complicated is when you go out for an event or activity. Plastic presents itself as an opportunity during these scenarios because of its ease and convenience. Does this mean I’ll stop going out? This idea is not realistic, but it is making me think about ways around using plastic instead of compromising everything in life.

Cover Photo Credit: Pixabay

What steps do you take to reduce plastic waste when eating out? What do you use to reduce your use of plastic silverware?


  1. Zoë

    Hi Brooke, It wasn’t until I tried to go plastic free I realized how many little incidentals there are to navigate. I find keeping a metal knife, fork and spoon wrapped in a cloth napkin in my handbag, really helps me to avoid plastic cutlery when eating out. Of course plates are more difficult.
    I also find it’s really hard to avoid straws and napkins when ordering drinks, particularly in the U.S. I haven’t quite got into the habit of asking for them without.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I agree. Straws can be pesky. I find the only way I avoid them is when I get the drink myself or telling the waiter or waitress that I prefer not to have a straw, but you do have to be conscious of it to catch it before it happens!

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