Free yourself from plastic

With the month of July in full swing, you might have heard about an initiative called Plastic Free July. It’s a simple idea developed in 2011 in Australia which has since spread around the world. It aims to raise awareness of the amount of plastic in our lives by encouraging people to eliminate the use of single-use plastic during July each year. Anyone can sign up – individuals or organisations.

Check out their website and perhaps you might give it a go!

The challenge is quite simple. Attempt to refuse single-use plastic during the month of July. “Single-use” includes plastic shopping bags, plastic cups, straws, plastic packaging…basically anything that’s intended only to be used once and then discarded. If refusing ALL single-use plastic sounds too daunting this time, you can try the TOP 4 challenge (plastic bags, bottles, takeaway coffee cups & straws).

If you think about it, all of the TOP 4 plastics are easily avoidable. I have put together a few tips that might help you with the challenge.

1. Avoid plastic bags … bring your own

Reusable totes are prettier and sturdier than the flimsy single-use plastic bags and they are totally convenient to carry in your handbag for all cases. Pick one that folds into a little packet and off you go! 

Reusable bags

Handy to keep in your handbag! (Photo:

Tip: They can also be used as an emergency seat cover, picnic cloth or umbrella. Boom.

2. Avoid plastic bottles … bring your own

Getting used to bringing your own reusable bottle (stainless steel, BPA-free plastic, glass) will solve a few problems at once. If you get thirsty or need some water to wash your hands, you don’t have to find a shop first and waste money on overpriced plastic bottle of water. Also, if you are out and can’t finish your drink, you have a handy container to pour your leftover drink into.

Reusable water bottles

Cool water bottle anyone? (Photo:

Tip: A full bottle of wine fits nicely in a 750ml stainless steel bottle without raising any suspicion – you know, when you’re going to a festival and are low on cash or to a children’s party you’d like to make more interesting.

3. Avoid takeaway coffee cups … bring your own

Not only are the paper cups you get with your takeaway coffee lined with plastic, which makes them harder to recycle, the cups and the lids actually very rarely end up in a recycling bin. Choosing to bring your own makes so much more sense! Remembering your travel mug in the morning before you leave the house might need a few post-its on the door/mirror/steering wheel of your car but it’s definitely worth it.


If I drank coffee, this would be my go-to cup! (Photo:

Tip: They are also much more spill-proof than the paper cups and can carry all sorts of liquids if needed – or foods for that matter! On top of that, you might even get financially rewarded for your efforts!

4. Avoid straws … bring your own or simply say no

Depending on where you live, your drinks might usually be served with a straw. In Ireland  it’s thankfully not as common in general and applies mostly for bars. Fast-food chains also give you the option to take the straw yourself. (Hint: Don’t.)

Tip: You could invest in nice reusable bamboo, metal or glass straws (I would question their durability – at least in my clumsy case!). Or, simply ask staff not to put any straw in your drink – consume it like a responsible adult with your mouth and gravity. I haven’t used a straw for a good while now and I am not missing it at all!

Plastic straws

Not cool, people, not cool!

Bringing your own reusable straw can spark a discussion and raise awareness – educate people and enjoy the quizzical looks!

Once you have successfully avoided the TOP 4, you might want to take things further and continue with #5.

5. Avoid plastic packaging – buy in bulk or in recyclable packaging

The majority of plastic in a typical household comes from food packaging. If you have the option, buy in bulk or packageless directly from producers (farmers’ markets and all that jazz!). If not available, choose recyclable packaging that you can reuse first before recycling (cardboard or paper).

Because ‘on-the-go’ foods are the biggest culprit in this plastic saga, think ahead and prepare you brekkie, lunch and snacks at home and bring them along. Leftovers from dinner make a great work lunch, overnight porridge takes about 2 minutes to prepare and homemade trail mixes have a much better mixture of goodies than those overpriced teensy packs.

The unavoidable side-effect is that you WILL start eating healthier and soon enough you will cook like a boss.

It is only fair that I weigh the pros and cons before advising you to do this. So, here they are:


  • You will need to be organised. Some of us are naturals, some less so.
  • You will need a bigger handbag/rucksack. Carrying all your BYOs takes up some space alright.
  • You might be looked at quizzically/with surprise/disbelief. Be a trendsetter and embrace it.


  • You save money. Skipping all the impulse buys ranging from a pack of raisins to a far-too-expensive fancy sandwich with rose petals will be kind on your wallet.
  • You will feel better. Physically because you’ll eat better and mentally because your actions WILL make a difference. Maybe only one more turtle will not get a straw stuck in her little nose. But that’s huge.
  • You will become an eco-warrior. That’s a synonym for a hero, a better person and a responsible citizen of the planet Earth in my book.

Is that enough for you to consider joining the movement this July? Remember, you can join any day, even if it’s  just for a day. The Earth will thank you.


Wardrobe conundrums

I often think the concept of seasons is totally lost on Ireland. Here, you get rain for about 6 months of the year, snow in April, a heatwave in May, one week of temperatures over 25 degrees in June or July (the Irish summer) and for the rest, a mixture of all the above…

As far as my wardrobe and I are concerned, there are only two seasons in a year. One season with black tights and one without them. End of story. These can, as they did this year, switch in about 2 days flat. The whole month of April there was rain, hail and freezing cold temperatures and just as the calendar turned its page to May, the non-black-tights-season arrived. Sun shining, birds singing and all that jazz. Of course I’m delighted – but somehow suspicious!


The Box. It survived two house moves and holds together only by willpower 🙂

This also means that I have to pull out a cardboard box where I stash all my ‘summer’ clothes. All the coats, jumpers, hats, gloves, long-sleeved dresses and black tights must now make space for light T-shirts, summery dresses and reasonably long shorts.

It has to be said that I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe, definition of which is ‘a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion’. If you fancy some reading on the topic or some reading with pretty pictures, go ahead! However, I still think that this might be one step too far for me for now. For starters, I kinda need two sets of clothes – for work and leisure. Because I work in an office, half of my wardrobe consists of shift dresses (I love their versatility, you can dress them up or down as you please), suit jackets, the occasional pair of pants and some tops. The other half would be more of the jeans-and-a-top type – for leisure. I try not to have clothes that I don’t wear cluttering my space but I do have quite a few occasional (aka not very versatile) pieces.

I mean – something like this would be just great:



Every time I change my seasonal wardrobe, I try to take out pieces that I don’t wear, don’t love or they have passed their wearability date and pass them onto someone – a charity shop or a clothing recycling bank. But, let’s be honest, there is still much to do! Even though I haven’t bought many new clothes in the past year (only some essentials), there is still enough for about three capsule wardrobes – if not more!

So, with the aim of upping my game this time around, I plan to cut down the ‘winter’ wardrobe as I store it in the box for the summer. I’m thinking about actually counting all the pieces and cutting it down by about a quarter. I’ll see how it goes and I will update you on the progress!

I have also decided not to buy any new clothes. If I find a need for any garments, I will do my best to get them second-hand. As I never was a second-hand shop girl, this will be new to me. You see, the second-hand outlets in Slovakia are quite different to the charity shop concept here in Ireland. I remember going in and swimming through oddly sized and shaped garments that didn’t catch my imagination so I stopped soon after. When I had a peek into few charity shops in Dublin, there were perfectly fine pieces of brands that I actually recognised 🙂

When I was a student, I somehow unintentionally had a good habit of buying less clothes – I only spent money on things I really liked because couldn’t afford more. However, once the fast fashion industry made its way into my life, all my unintentionally good habits went out the window. All the nice pieces for next to nothing were there for me to have 🙂 After a period of buying cheap clothes in fast fashion chains (well, we are talking about most of my adult-with-earnings years), last year I started to learn about where my clothes really come from and how much they really cost. As a result, I gradually stopped buying them. At least in Penneys.

Looking ahead, the ideal situation would be to have enough money to build a capsule wardrobe from sustainable pieces that were ethically manufactured and would last for years – we are talking about Alden from EcoCult levels here…well, I suppose it’s good to have a goal.

Until then, with the help of the internet and a strong will, I will somehow get my existing garments into a small(ish) wardrobe that is timeless, flexible and loved – it’s a good start, don’t you think? Do you have any tips for solving wardrobe conundrums? Let me know!

:: UPDATE ::

So, I did it. I went totally nerdy about it and there is a spreadsheet to prove it. I counted all my clothes in all ‘categories’ – winter, summer, all-year and sport (mainly for cycling). The things I didn’t count were undies, socks and shoes (they got pared down last year quite considerably though). Even without them I came to a total number of 168!!! That’s 5 capsule wardrobes right there. I really didn’t think it was so bad! But, as promised, I took one quarter of these clothes (all 42 pieces) and divided them into the charity shop/clothing bank/rags categories. According to my calculations I need to add 13 more to achieve a one-third-clean-up….and I think I am going to do it! I know, in the grand scheme of things it isn’t much but it’s a great start!!