Today marks a year that A MONTRA / THE WINDOW was born and that I published my first – and until now only – post about Going minimalist. Although I haven’t been writing about this at all, truth is I’ve actually been going minimalist for the whole year. One. Step. At. A. Time. And today I return to tell you a little about what I’ve been up to on this department and to challenge you.

My family’s path

To start the road to minimalism – just to be clear I do not consider myself a minimalist yet – I investigated a lot, I read, I made lists, I changed some behaviours and I involved my family and friends. And it was rather fast that, for me and my family, going minimalist became synonymous with becoming a zero waste household. A year after this realization I’m spending a lot of time talking about the no waste lifestyle, which, unfortunately, I’m not completely following yet.

BONUS: Join us for our upcoming NO WASTE TALKS. Click here for more info.

Truth is my family produces a lot of waste, we still bring a lot of unnecessary packaging home, we did not declutter our family home as much as I had dreamt and I still buy plastic trash bags! Shame on us. Also true is that we are downsizing (from a 140 m2 to a 90 m2 apartment) even though we are having a baby, we started shopping in bulk, we gave up paper napkins, we refuse single use plastic daily and we are embracing reusable diapers for our soon to be born daughter. Not bad for a year’s work!

To get us started on our second year going minimalist, we decided to join a yearly challenge launched by an Australian group of conscious and beautiful people: PLASTIC FREE JULY. And so should you! Join the challenge and keep up with our daily #plasticfreejuly journey by following my Instagram account @joanaguerratadeu.

The problem

Plastic is the problem. And single use plastic is the worst! Think plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic straws, q-tips and takeaway containers that are made in a material that is designed to last forever but that most of us use just for a few minutes.

As the PLASTIC FREE JULY website explains, these plastics become permanent pollution and, even though we recycled them, they are mostly downcycled, which means they are turned into low grade products for just one more use and are then sent to a landfill.

Even if we are extra careful with what happens to plastic after being used, there’s a lot of “accidental litter”, which is small plastic stuff that escapes from bins, trucks, events and what not – if you live in Portugal, like I do, think about all the q-tips straws you can find at the beach! These things end up in waterways and the ocean – where scientists predict there will be more tonnes of plastic than tonnes of fish by 2050.

CALL FOR TALENT: Submit your post about the harms of plastic to be published!

Every bit of plastic ever made still exists and in the first 10 years of this century the world economy produced more plastic than the entire 1900’s! On top of it all, plastic transfers to the food chain, carrying harmful pollutants with it.

The challenge and the solution

PLASTIC FREE JULY aims to raise awareness of the problems with single-use disposable plastic and challenges people in over 130 countries to do something about it. If you want to be part of the solution, start by choosing to refuse plastic:

  • Avoid products in plastic packaging;
  • Avoid pre-packaged food (fruits, vegetables, meat and fish) and buy in bulk;
  • Refuse any single use plastic you can identify (water bottles, take away containers, straws, utensils, balloons…)
  • Source cleaning products and personal care products in bulk, or choose the ones that come in glass or refillable containers;
  • Refuse personal care products and clothing with plastic microbeads like most scrubs and fitness fabrics;
  • Use your own reusable shopping bags, on-the-go cups, water bottles;
  • Pick up litter in public spaces;
  • Recycle what you cannot avoid.
BONUS: Want to help evaluate how good we are already at refusing plastic? Take this quiz.

If you are ready to get in the mind-set starting today, sign up to be counted and to get emails directly from the initiative with tips and recipes throughout July.

Levels of commitment

If this is your first time avoiding plastic maybe you don’t feel comfortable going all the way and eradicating plastic from your life. That’s ok. Or maybe you already don’t use any plastic and you’ll just like to share a few tips with the rest of us that want to follow your footsteps. That’s wonderful!

Choose the level of commitment you are comfortable with and stick to it for 31 days. It will immediately produce short-term results in the environment and in your community and it will, most definitely produce long-term results in your lifestyle and health. I promise!

BONUS: Here are a few helpful resources about going plastic free. And some movies to watch.

I personally pledge to try going completely plastic free for the entire month by actively trying to find alternatives to everything. What about you? Check out the initiative’s Action Picker for ideas.

Taking it further

Because of the journey my family has been going through the last year, I’m personally going to take this challenge a little further and involve other family members, like my or my husband’s parents by challenging them regularly this month.

BONUS: How about a Bin Audit? Check it out here.

To raise the pressure of this being mandatory for me, I also commit to publish daily about the challenge on my Instagram. I suggest you do the same.

CALL FOR ACTION: Going to the beach in July? Pick up some litter and help save the oceans.

Because I’m doing these NO WASTE TALKS, I’ll incorporate the PLASTIC FREE JULY challenge into them, urging people to join it.

I will also be involved in a plastic free morning tea (more news on that soon).

And I will be urging everyone in Portugal to press for policy change on plastic.

Share your success

Try and inspire others to join the movement:

Hope I convinced you. Talk to you soon.