Every year millions of people take part in the #PlasticFreeJuly challenge around the globe, choosing to refuse single-use plastics and drastically reduce the the amount of plastic waste ending up in the landfill or as litter on land and in oceans.
No matter who we are or where we live we can ALL take part in some way! We will reduce waste this month and help create new habits in our lives for using less in the long term. Don’t worry that you didn’t start at the beginning of the month. Just like with any resolution or goal TODAY is the perfect day to start making some positive changes, not tomorrow, not next week, NOW. Start today and challenge yourself to take a new step to live more consciously. These are things we could ALL work on, ALL year-round.
This is not an all or nothing challenge, and it’s important to take steps that will be sustainable for you and your lifestyle. It’s better to choose a couple things to start with, and working on reducing and cutting out in the long term than trying all at once and becoming burnt out and giving up. We need millions of people reducing their use and consumption imperfectly, not a small few doing it perfectly.
Here are a few ideas for getting STARTED. Start small by focusing on the four top single-use plastic items:
- PLASTIC BOTTLES – This is a simple one to start with! Just carry a reusable water bottle with you. If you do forget to bring your water bottle along with you, don’t panic. You can find a fountain, ask a cafe for a glass of water, or purchase a glass bottle of water and reuse it.
- SHOPPING BAGS – Bring reusable bags for groceries, clothes or home goods shopping. Leave some in your car, next to the front door, or a small compact one in your bag so you’ll never forget.
- COFFEE CUPS – Pack reusables made of ceramic, glass, plastic or stainless steel. *You don’t need to purchase a new special cup (though if it’ll help you feel more motivated to carry it around with you – go for it!). You can also bring a mug or mason jar from home – just be conscious of using items that can heat up or don’t travel well if you’re going far.
- STRAWS – If you prefer to use straws for your drinks pack a reusable! There are many options and many come with cleaners.
These may already be big habits for you to work on, and that’s a great start. OR if you’re already working towards those swaps and want to further challenge yourself by saying no to other items and making more swaps, here are some more ideas:
Reusable Items in the Home (a few to get started)
- Use glassware and other tupperware instead of plastics bags and wrap (if you do still have plastic bags or containers on hand, then wash and reuse them as many times as possible – we do this with some take-out containers and other plastic tubs some products have come in)
- Cloth dish towels instead of paper towels
- Cloth napkins and handkerchiefs (you can make some extras by cutting up old t-shirts)
- Refill dish soap, Shampoo and Conditioner in the bulk section (I reuse the containers I had previously purchased with these products – no need to buy new specific containers)
- Use bar soap or liquid refills (I use Dr.Bronners for hand soap and dishes)
Shop Plastic Free (BYOB and more)
- Bring your own bags and containers for produce, bulk, and bringing it all home (keep some in your car, purse, backpack, etc. to ensure you always have one handy)
- Choose unpackaged fruit and veggies (in Summertime, shop at farmer’s markets! Great way to also ensure it’s coming from local sources and is in season)
- Shop the bulk section (for coffee, tea, beans, rice, veggies, other grains, nuts, spices, dish soap, shampoo, etc.)
- Choose food packaged in glass, metal, or cardboard instead of plastic whenever possible.
More Plastic Free on-the-go
- Bring you own containers for takeout food and leftovers (I reuse the ones from previous to-go orders, and for full transparency I sometimes forget my containers and need to get another containers to-go. But I always try to make sure it’s something I can reuse)
- Say no (thank you) to single-use forks, spoon, and knives. Keep a small bag in your in your purse or backpack with cutlery from home or get a bamboo set for to-go orders. Eat at the restaurant or cafe and ask for a “for here” cutlery.
- Refuse free samples and goodie bags filled with random bits.
- Ask for your food or drink in a “for here” dish.
- Carry that reusable bag always for any random shopping need
This list is a work in progress and meant to help get some started in reducing plastic and other single use items. If you have other ideas to add on, please share in the comments below and I will add! More tips on reducing waste in other ways and on a larger scale coming soon.
For more ideas, tips and actions to help reduce waste for all areas of life and work check out @plasticfreejuly and their website https://www.plasticfreejuly.org – an amazing non-profit organization from Australia who started this challenge
@plasticfreemermaid also shares a ton of great ideas and resources and put together a fantastic #PlasticFree🧜🏼♀️ guide – Her website and blog are also full of resources http://iquitplastics.com/blogCheck out my Conscious Living Resources page for even more resources on reducing waste and conscious living (blogs, podcasts, Instagram accounts, etc.) So, will you join me and give up or greatly reduce use of single-use plastic items this month? And beyond? (Pick just a few things or a ton, it ALL adds up to make a difference)Share below one thing you plan to work on!
> > Much love, Alena