Plastic Free July: the recap

Plastic Free July is a global movement encouraging everyone to be plastic-free for at least one month to reduce plastic pollution. As we are coming to a close of Plastic Free July, here is a recap of our experience. Discover all the actions that we took, and the zero-waste initiatives and influencers that inspired us. 

What did we do for Plastic Free July?

Plastic-free team challenge
Within, our team, we committed to being zero-plastic for one month! For this, we had our reusable boxes, bags and bottles, ready to tackle the challenge and fight every bit of plastic waste. There was a lot of successes but also some difficulties. What do you do when you don’t have your reusable box with you, are starving and about to board for a 7 hours bus trip? To help each other and discuss solutions, we reported on a shared excel sheet our plastic consumption per person. We also mentioned in the table the alternatives to plastic waste that we thought about, which we discussed in our weekly meetings.

table describing the plastic we consumed during plastic free july
Table describing the plastic we consumed in July

And of course, we counted points to make it a little bit spicy. Here are the results of this plastic-free month at Soulcial Trust:

plastic free july team challenge

Quentin is the happy winner of our Plastic Free July challenge!

What did we learn during this month? Besides of course always carrying with you reusable items.

  • Value plastic waste (or any kind of waste for that matter). Sometimes you might still end up getting plastic bags (or other plastic items), despite your best intentions. Best is, value it and do not consider it as waste. For instance, you can keep the plastic bag in your bike basket for when you need it. Or keep in your bag the plastic cutleries that you got by mistake for when you’re eating take-away food.
meme picturing Sheriff Woody from Toys Story with a plastic fork
Picture from Organicallyspicedmemes
  • One reusable bottle might not be enough. It is pretty easy in Siem Reap to get water from refill stations around the city (thanks to RefillNotLandfill). Yet, there are places where there are no stations in sight. This includes, for instance, Kulen Mountains, or many soccers/sportsfields in the city. So try to plan ahead. You can, for instance, take two full reusable bottles with you. You can also get reusable bottles for cheap at second-hand shops such as Sakura in Siem Rep.
  • The market is your friend. You can find at the market many goods such as rice, lentils, eggs, and fruits without any plastic packaging. Of course, don’t forget to bring your reusable bag(s)! You can also find a lot of delicious food and snacks there. They are either already wrapped in banana leaves, or if not, can put in your reusable box.
Plastic free items at Cambodian market (rice, eggs, and fruits)
Plastic free items at Cambodian market (rice, eggs, and fruits) in Siem Reap
  • Review places where there is an abusive amount of plastic. There are many cafes giving plastic cups and plastic straws. And this despite asking for a coffee/drink to have in their facilities and without any plastic straw. If that happens, you can mention it to the staff or manager, or even email the place to mention your complaint. Also, do put a review on TripAdvisor (or google, facebook, etc) about it. In this way, people are aware of it and the place might want to take action to avoid other negative reviews. Before going somewhere, you can also check on TripAdvisor for places that pay attention (or not) to their plastic waste. For this, search for the term “plastic” on Tripadvisor in the city of your choice, and TADA! You can see the reviews (positive and negative) left by people about plastic waste.

We released our first environmental policy!

Why did we decide to write an environmental policy? Well, even though our environmental impact is limited, we wanted our team to act as role models when it comes to environmental protection. We also wanted to be transparent about the actions that we take, and use this policy as a basis to train new team members. In that regard, from now on, we will provide environmental training for employees, explaining them the environmental issues in Cambodia and how they can mitigate their impact (use reusable bottles, reusable box, etc.). And we will, of course, provide them with important addresses to know (e.g. refill stations, second-hand shops, and so on)

Soulcial Trust environmental policy

If your organisation, no matter the size, does not have an environmental policy, we encourage you to create one. Make sure to have everyone read through it and sign it. For better results, you can make employees sign the policy after delivering an environmental workshop. The training will enable your employees to understand why you’re taking actions to reduce your impact. It will also educate them on what they need to do about it. Here is a good website to get started with the policy.

Plastic-free inspirations

Over the past month, some places and people went above and beyond to reduce their plastic waste, and educate others about it. Have a look at the great actions they have taken to do so. 

Places striving to be plastic-free

Eleven One Kitchen.

Eleven One Kitchen, situated in Phnom Penh, is a model in terms of a plastic-free restaurant in the country. For this month, they released every day a new tip to reduce plastic waste. So make sure to check them out in your next trip to the city and follow their precious tips to be plastic-free.

ស្នួខោអាវ Clothesline Resale Boutique

Clothesline is a second-hand shop in Phnom Penh. We already loved them for providing second-hand clothes, shoes and accessories. But, we love them even more for being so engaged in Plastic Free July! Check out their facebook page and Instagram for more inspiring posts.

Hefalump Cafe

Hefalump Cafe is Mondulkiri’s Responsible Tourism Hub. A small coffee shop providing info on ethical and eco destinations to visit while in Mondulkiri (such as Elephant Valley Project). As the province does not have any waste management infrastructure, the cafe is striving to reduce its waste. They recently decided to produce their own peanut butter to replace the industrialised one. They also use banana leaves to wrap their amazing pastries. Follow their Instagram page to discover more about their actions!

Inspiring influencers

We recently noticed inspiring people sharing about their plastic-free life, including Sochenda, Claudia and Rose. Here is their portrait: 

The Eco Minder

Claudia, who runs the Instagram account The Eco Minder, is an industrial/product designer from Lima, Peru. Over the past years, she has been a preschool English teacher in Sihanoukville. After seeing the rather precarious waste management in the country, Claudia decided to share a little bit of her journey to reduce her waste.

Her tip to reduce waste in your daily life? Write a “consumption diary”, so you can actually see how much single-use plastic you consume and can avoid in your daily routine. She told us that being aware of our own consumption can help preserve the environment, while the government implements adequate regulations.

And with our own team diary, we cannot agree more! 🙂

Zero waste

Sochenda Aok is a passionate, young Cambodian woman who believes everybody can leave the World a little bit better and cleaner than what they found it. How can she prove that? By going on an incredible but difficult journey to live a zero-waste lifestyle. She documents and shares her journey through online content creation. From the good and bad experiences she picked up along the way, including helpful tips and advice, to building a community of like-minded people who care about the World, Sochenda appreciates every minute of her journey. Her motto? ”It’s up to us!”.

Sochenda also shares her journey on her Youtube channel. Make sure to check it out here!

Petitefootprint

Rose describe her zero-waste journey via the account petitefootprint. When asked about herself, Rose told us that she always thought it was enough to put her trash in the bin. But, she has come to learn that most of our trash is made of plastic waste, which will outlive us for centuries to come. And this, even if we put it in the bin. This became a terrifying awakening for her. However, upon learning about the zero-waste movement, Rose learnt how simple alternatives can drastically reduce waste. Despite knowing that trash will always be part of our lives, she is convinced that we can do something about how much trash we produce.

Her one tip to reduce plastic waste? Cut down on single-use plastic, such as plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic cups, plastic straws, etc. by bringing your reusable version.

Hope you found all these tips inspiring! Of course, don’t forget, Plastic Free July is just the name but we should strive to reduce plastic waste all year round and not only in July 🙂

Did you like the article? Please share any tips that you have to reduce your plastic waste, and share this article with anyone would interested. You can also have a look at our article about Zero-waste in Siem Reap

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