It’s a (plastic) wrap!

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It’s a (plastic) wrap!

This year, the Master Divers team decided to take part in the #plasticfreejuly challenge. This campaign is led by the Plastic Free Foundation and was initially launched in 2011. It aims at choosing to refuse single-use plastics for not only the month of July, but also on a more permanent basis.

The results of our 2019 Plastic Free July Challenge

This is the end of July and I am now looking back at my choice to refuse single-use plastics for the entire month. First of all, I am very happy that I went through with it, but my biggest take on this experience is that it was not easy at all! And to answer everybody’s question “Did I manage to avoid all types of single-use plastics?”, the answer is a very clear NO! Since I normally do not collect all the plastics that I use, I cannot do a direct comparison, but I can guarantee that I have for sure reduced my plastic usage.

The fails

I tried really hard to avoid single-use plastic, but at the end of the first week I already had a few plastic items in my collection point, so I really felt that I had already failed this challenge. But #plasticfreejuly reminded me that the aim was not for one person to do this challenge perfectly, but for a lot of people to do it imperfectly and that using a few plastic items was not a fail.

So what did I not manage to avoid?

Take-away food and food deliveries – I ordered Indian food to be delivered to my house, thinking that it would be delivered in reusable containers, but it all came in single use plastic packaging. Another time I carefully chose the restaurant knowing that they would deliver in paper bags but I forgot that they always add ketchup and mayonnaise in tiny plastic bags so adding “no ketchup and no mayo” should, from now on, be part of my standard order. And after that experience I chose the take-away option rather than food delivery. But I often forgot to pack reusable containers in my bag to pick up dinner on my way home. So this was definitely the biggest amount of plastic that I collected this month.

When I decided to cook, I tried to only buy items which did not have plastic packaging. On most occasions, I chose soy milk (which in Thailand is sold in Tetra Pak cartons), however I still bought a few plastic bottles of milk. (Unfortunately, there is no way of buying milk in glass bottles on Koh Tao). I tried making pancakes with soy milk and it was a complete disaster. Apparently there is a recipe for pancakes with coconut milk, so I will look into it.


I also bought a broccoli which was wrapped in cellophane. This was clearly not my proudest moment, but I have to admit that after going to several shops and not finding a plastic free option, I gave in. I forgot as well that when you order sticky rice in a restaurant, it usually comes in a little plastic pouch. I did not buy pasta that came in plastic containers but I did not manage to find oat that did not come in plastic. Yes, I was able to give up pasta for a month, but this was not the case for my overnight oats breakfast!

Snacks – I did not buy a single snack that was wrapped in plastic – yay! But, I also have to admit that I still had a big supply at my house that I brought from home recently and some other stuff that was given to me by my friend Kirsty before she left the island. So these plastic wrappers ended up in my collection point as well.


Toiletries – Again, I did not buy any new shampoo or conditioner that came in plastic packaging. However, the reason is more that I still have so much of it at home, usually leftovers that I inherited from friends who left the island, that I still use these. Getting rid of perfectly good cosmetics, just because they came in plastic packaging would be silly. But I discovered that there is a Zero Waste Shop on the island, which not only sells cosmetics and cleaning stuff in bulk, but they are also collecting empty containers to be re-used.

The successes

For the first few days, I actually found it not too difficult to avoid single use plastics. To a point where I even started to point the finger at my friends and colleagues – please accept my apologies lovely people, especially Sara – when they bought a single egg in a plastic box, for example. But of course, I tried to be a role-model and I hope that ultimately I can have a positive influence on their plastic usage, too.

As I expected, avoiding plastic bottles, cups, straws and cutlery, as well as plastic bags was not hard for me at all, as this was already a habit and part of my daily routine.


I did actually manage to not buy a single pack of crisps (but I did steal a few from my colleague Charlie once or twice)! And I quickly found out that the banana bread from the Coconut Monkey was a great alternative to biscuits and fresh coconut ice cream in a cone (or coffee mug) was a great option, too.

I gave up my favorite sandwich from Da’s, because she wraps it in cellophane and bringing a plastic container or paper bag does not really work because the sandwich is huge. Ultimately, I only had one at the very end of the month. And then I discovered that there is a plastic free alternative to celophane: beeswax wraps

I also only had one yogurt that came in a plastic cup. Actually, my colleague Sarah told me about a shop on the island that sold yogurt in glass jars, so that will definitely be an item on my next shopping list.

My conclusion

Even though I did not completely manage to eliminate plastic from my daily life, this experience has actually made me more curious on how to avoid plastic, how to reuse it and how to recycle or upcycle it. And it has made me a lot more aware on the fact, that plastic packaging is everywhere!


Avoiding single-use plastics on a small island is possible, but at the same time it can be very limiting. To be completely honest, I won’t be as strict on my plastic usage as I was for the month of July, but this experience has definitely provided me with a lot of new habits that I am planning to keep up on a permanent basis. From now on, before buying a product that comes in plastic packaging, I will ask myself if I really need it or if there is maybe a plastic free alternative.

Photo credits: unsplash, Plastic Free July Foundation, Rob Kelly, private.

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