It’s Plastic-Free July. And I’ve got my reusable cup, but it’s just a jar.

One of the traps I think we can fall into is productising the fast life, just with nicer materials. What I want to do in the shop is turn back time about a hundred years in terms of understanding our role as consumers. A hundred years ago, not everything was available all the time and we didn’t have a dedicated product for each of our fast life habits. International trade was well in place, but it was more of a trade in treasures, less in cheap disposable commodities.

“Life has become too easy to do the things that once had to be worthwhile.”
– Kara Veugelers

We are consumers. We are top puppy in the food chain and we use the resources around us to survive and to enjoy our lives. To own this aspect of ourselves without eco guilt and shame, we can start to look more deeply into what we need and what we love.

I do love picking up my barista coffee, and my favourite reusable cup so far is this lovely jelly jar. Not too big, with clean lines, and a fully sealable lid, this baby fits more sweetly in my bag than any other cup I have had, feels good to drink out of, and gets compliments wherever I go. I do like a nice accessory compliment.

What I am ignoring for the moment is that it’s made in China in factory conditions that are possibly horrendous. But referring back to rule #1 – start where you are.

The general awareness of our impact on the environment has gone pretty mainstream in the last few years, but a lot of the changes we are making are still tied to products that in the end have a finite life and will end up in landfill. Silicone is one that tricked me initially – I thought it was silicon, the element, but in fact it’s a blend of silicon and plastic polymers that can’t break down in the environment.

Greenwashing: pretending something is environmentally friendly without looking at the whole story. In my twisted way, I always thought this was at least a step in the right direction, an acknowledgment that these things matter. But let’s look a little closer, think a little more deeply, slow down and enjoy the jam jar.

My pledge for Plastic-Free July is to remember to take my cup with me. A good tip I was given is that if I don’t have the cup, I don’t get the coffee. A little shiver of fear ran through me, and I realised that if I make that rule for myself, it’s a real commitment. That might just be enough for it to become an everyday habit.