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EPISODE 5 | Plastic Free Challenge

Hayley McLellan, Stories from the City Centre, Cape Town

An environmental campaigner who runs Rethink the Bag South Africa and shops for herself from her home base in Seapoint, she took the Plastic Free July challenge to the extreme as she has already cut out most single-use plastics from her life.


I come from a KwaZulu-Natal farming family and eating from our massive and organic veggie garden at home is such a privilege. Being back in the city can sway us off this healthy path choice quicker than you can say “give peas a chance!” The presentation of organic, non-plastic-suffocated fruit and veg is even a treat for the eye.

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So I took a visit to Oranjezicht City Farm Market. This is a largely plastic bag-free market. The only fresh produce I saw in transparent bags were the kumquats, which could be avoided.


My purchases for this day cost me R95, which included Happy Hens eggs. It is important for me to be transparent about my Plastic Free July experience and say that I did find shopping organic a tad expensive. Carrots, for example, cost me four times what I would pay in a retail store – munch on that! Next week I will go for the “two for one” specials at the end of the market day.


My taste buds simply love plain, natural, Greek/Bulgarian yoghurt. I never buy any other style. The Camphill brand is superb with a silky texture and a far superior taste than any commercial brand. Again, it also comes at a premium price, but it is in a glass bottle!



It has been a frustrating month as I feel like I did when I was eating strictly gluten free – I have limited choices! I wander the isles with glazed eyes, standing in line at the checkout nauseates me as I look around – with no judgement – but noticing our collective unconsciousness mirrored in our shopping choices and habits…..clutching onto our perceived convenient lifestyles…..


I badly wanted a particular tasting soup on the weekend (in plastic of course) and I just said ‘bugger it’ and bought it, same went for cheese which is R110/kg at Checkers in plastic compared to R250-R350/kg at organic markets! Really! Why can’t we get reasonably priced, not so fancy cheese at markets too? Why does the healthy choice have to be the more expensive choice? I dream about starting a  packaging free grocery store in Cape Town…


For a lovely video on Hayley and the other staff of Two Oceans Aquarium chatting about their Plastic Free July, watch here.


Collective solutions from all our stories – from cities, small towns and the middle of the Karoo…every little thing we do adds up and it all counts…it’s not easy to change habits and plastic packaging is everywhere, but the more of us who say NO to single-use plastic the easier it becomes…living a healthy, plastic free life is really difficult and expensive, this needs to change and we CAN change it….and sharing our stories is powerful, we are not alone, we inspire each other and we can take back our power as consumers to create healthy communities and a healthy planet. Who’s in?

Follow our blog for all the episodes in this Plastic Free Challenge series.

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[You can search for places that are recycling or using eco packaging on  Eco Atlas and here are some other plastic free wins you should definitely check out – GreenHome, StreamStraws, FreshBag, The Candylwood Store and more…]