Lessons learned from plastic free July

Lessons learned from plastic free July

Plastic free July has ended, so before I throw out my waste and recycling, I wanted to show what I couldn’t avoid. Of course I didn’t document my compost, that would be pointless 🙂 So let’s dive into it!

Plastic and metal

Going from right to left you can first see some envelopes from the post, because I ordered online from abroad. There was a running shoe from Ebay, and some other things from Aliexpress for my world tour. I also got a plastic bag from decathlon, because I ordered a mini pump for my bike and they transported it from their bigger shop from the suburbs, which was too far away for me. I could have bought the shoe for 30 eur more, or biked to the other decathlon shop for the pump, but sometimes money or convenience wins against being zero waste, and anyway my time is limited.


One of the plastic bottles is from a couchsurfer guest, the other I’ve found under a bush while bike riding and brought it home 🙂 The iso drink powder from decathlon was used up as well, which you can see over the plastic bottle. Next to that are two bottle caps, they broke so I had to throw them out, but I’m keeping the bottom part and I hope to get new caps for those.


Most of the plastic food packaging  (including the two gel packets) are from my life before doing unpackaged shopping, and one is from a teammate from the ironman event. I also have some plastic bags, but honestly have no idea how they got in, maybe a couchsurfer brought these too.

The metal waste is minimal luckily, I got a beer can from the pasta party on ironman and the other I just had a craving for. It’s summer 🙂 The two aluminium foil balls are mainly from the chocolate packaging, because I’m in love with chocolate. Of course I wouldn’t buy in plastic (you can read the reasons why here), only with paper and foil. If you make tennis sized balls from the foil, the magnetic picker at the recycling plant can pick it up, so yes, aluminium foil is recyclable 🙂 It is quite important too, considering how harmful bauxite mining is.


It’s clear that I’m not that strick with paper packaging, but it is also harder to avoid in some cases. Let’s start from right to left here as well.


On the bottom right corner there are two bubble wrap envelopes, also from Aliexpress, and I’m not too sure if it’s recyclable, but I’m giving it a chance.


In the middle there are 3 product holders from Decathlon. I didn’t have a tool and a food bag for my bike and one was for the mini pump I mentioned earlier.

On the upper right corner and in the middle you can see food packaging. As I mentioned I love chocolate. At least I’ve found out that Aldi sells fair trade and utz dark chocolates at a reasonably cheap price, so that is my staple now.  

Going towards the left at the top there are two clothes labels. I had to buy a short and a summer bike glove. That’s why it’s better to shop second hand, there are no labels there. 🙂


The envelope was the race package from ironman, which had a lot of stickers for the bike and the helmet too. Sadly some waste cannot be avoided when you are racing. I chose to participate in a few select races only, but I wouldn’t give up triathlon to be more environmental friendly.


There are some boxes with used up medicine, which you can’t really avoid in Hungary, and also an empty box of tampons which I won’t buy anymore, since I switched to using a menstrual cup.

Lastly, there is a bunch of used paper for notes, and two bills from T-mobile, which is coming for the former owner since two years. I told them countless times to change their address there.. I guess it’s time for another phone call 🙂

Communal waste

For practical reasons, let’s go from bottom to top here 🙂


The lion’s share of the waste is coming from thermal paper as you can see. Mostly receipts from shops, but there are public transport tickets too.  Sadly most people are not aware  (not even shops/cashiers!), but thermal paper generally contains BPA, which can be absorbed through the skin by touch. I think by now everyone knows the harmful effects of this substance, but here’s a good summary of it. I already wrote about this to a distributor and it turns out BPA free thermal paper does exists, but it’s more expensive currently. According to current laws, thermal paper is a must, because cash machines can only work with this. So I guess only a new decree would help in this case. This is the reason why it can’t go into paper recycling, it would get more concentrated in recycled paper.


At the bottom left there is a bikini bottom which got holes in it, and cannot really be repaired. I will keep the top and won’t buy a new one, since I still have a ton of bikinis 🙂 On top, I have some floss which I bought before last October, when I started this lifestyle, and I use it up sparingly. After that I will use a simple yarn or some silk yarn I think, and that is compostable 🙂


There is a clothes sticker from the short I bought in Lidl, and it is totally unnecessary. The race stickers are below, which I can’t really avoid.


At the middle left there is a broken glass jar, the small shards are going to landfill but the big one I will bring to recycling. The municipality is collecting plastic, metal and paper, but for glass I have to go to a shop or to a so called recycling island throughout the city. Glass is used up for storage most of the time, so it’s not a big deal luckily. Of course if I was making the laws, there would be deposit on every glass items, because people are just lazy sadly. Over the glass there is a small rubber cylinder and I have no idea about it, but I have no use for it in any case.


There is also a used up toothbrush-head from DM, and I’m currently using the last one. This is more environmentally friendly since you use less plastic, still, I’ll be switching to a wood one, with pig-hair bristles, so completely compostable. Already bought it, it’s waiting for me in the cupboard 🙂 The q-tips are a bad habit, and I’m using them sparingly, but still, not gonna stop fully. Nowadays there is an eco-friendly alternative anyway, with paper in the middle instead of plastic. I bought a big box last year and it’s still almost full though, so not gonna buy a new one soon I guess.

Lastly there is a non-stick pan which was the cheapest type from IKEA, and it didn’t last long. It is full of scratches and a sticky oily film. It will go to an animal shelter. I have a few similar pans left, but I will slowly phase them out and switching to more durable kitchenware. They will be more expensive at the beginning, but as with all things lasting long, it is worth the price.  

In one of my next blogposts I will write about the methods with which I achieve these “waste results”, and will share some tips and basic recipes which can help in a zero waste lifestyle 🙂

So tell me, how was your plastic free July regarding waste?