What is Plastic-Free July?
Plastic Free July is an annual global challenge organised by The Plastic Free Foundation, a non-profit established in 2017. They launched the first Plastic Free July Eco-Challenge in 2011. Now a global operation, Plastic Free July encourages people to give up single-use plastics for one month. Throughout the 31 days, you’ll refuse plastic bags and turn down disposable bottles. You’ll avoid plastic-packaged foods and opt for recyclable containers such as glass, metal, and paper.
The challenge aims to raise awareness about plastic pollution by making you understand how dependent you are on single-use plastics. The foundation believes that one month without plastic is enough to help you build everyday habits that benefit the environment.
Read Also: Why we support the Plastic Soup Foundation
How to use less plastic in your daily life
If you’ve already signed up for the Plastic Free July Challenge, congratulations! The next step is preparation. You’ll find the challenge much easier if you start using less plastic before July 1st comes around. Here are some tips to help you deal with the most common plastic problems.
Buy a reusable water bottle
Single-use plastic bottles and other drinks containers are some of the most common items found in beach cleanups. According to the 2020 International Coastal Cleanup Report, volunteers collected over 1.8 million plastic beverage bottles and over 600 thousand plastic lids.
In fact, seven of the top 10 collected items were related to food and beverage packaging/containers. Fortunately, it’s easy to cut single-use containers out of your daily life.
During Plastic Free July, get used to carrying a reusable water bottle in your bag wherever you go. You can refill your bottle at work or use an app to find out where you can refill it for free while out and about. The FLASKE Bottle comes in four sizes so that you can stay hydrated no matter the size of your bag.
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Start bringing your own bags
If you don’t already have a reusable cotton tote, now is the time to get one. Tuck it into your bag or jacket pocket so that you can refuse plastic bags on your next trip to the store. A couple of mesh bags are also useful when you’re buying unpackaged vegetables from the grocery store.
Make your toiletries and cleaning supplies
Many toiletries and cleaning products are easy to make at home with everyday kitchen supplies like baking soda, vinegar, and coconut oil. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon, especially for families.
Alternatively, you can stick to your Plastic Free July pledge by buying unpackaged toiletries or toiletries in recyclable packaging. You can often find soap and shampoo bars without packaging or in cardboard boxes. Also, search for plastic-free deodorants, washable makeup pads, and metal safety razors.
Additionally, choose cleaning brushes, cloths, and sponges made from eco-friendly and biodegradable materials instead of plastic.
If you want to buy liquid soaps, shampoo, or cleaning products, try to source your nearest zero-waste store. Some high street cosmetic stores, like The Body Shop, have refill stations. This means you can buy their products without buying a new container.
Use reusable sanitary products
There are many inexpensive zero-waste alternatives to tampons and disposable pads. These reusable alternatives include menstrual cups, washable pads, and washable period underwear.
Shop online with care
When you buy something online, it might come in plastic packaging. During the Plastic-Free July Challenge and beyond, check the company packaging policy before purchasing a product. To keep it simple, only shop from eco-friendly online stores that package their products in recyclable materials.
You can also reduce plastic waste when shopping online by placing larger orders from the same retailer instead of ordering single items from different stores. That way, your items will be packaged together.
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Eat homemade meals
Food wrappers and takeaway containers are also commonly used plastic items. You can massively reduce your plastic consumption and eat healthier by cooking meals at home. Choose fresh ingredients and lose vegetables instead of ready meals and buy dry foods in bulk instead of small packs.
You can get creative with herbs and spices instead of buying premade sauces or buy products in reusable containers.
If you’re worried about food waste, have a couple of reusable food containers ready. You can store the leftovers and eat them for lunch the next day.
Prepare your drinks at home
Instead of getting a takeaway coffee when you’re out, make your tea, coffee, or other beverages at home. Put them in a travel coffee cup and take them anywhere you want. Why not experiment with these four fruity iced tea recipes.
If you prefer to buy your drinks from a café, remember to bring a reusable coffee flask or choose to drink your beverage in the store.
Also Read: Swapping disposable cups for a reusable coffee cup
Keep a plastic diary
Plastic is integrated into so many everyday products that you might not realise how much plastic you use. Keeping track of the plastic products you use most often will help you understand what changes you need to make.
There are a couple of ways to keep track of your plastic consumption. You could make a list in a notebook, use a spreadsheet, or download the MyPlasticDiary app.
Take advantage of Plastic Free July resources
The Plastic Free July initiative offers tips and resources to help you get started and ditch plastic. On their website, you can access informational videos, checklists, and plastic-free ideas. You can also download a Plastic Free July poster and help raise awareness of the challenge or follow the Plastic Free July Facebook page.
Check your trash
Looking in your bin will teach you a lot about your wasteful plastic habits. If you find that your bin is mostly filled with disposable food containers, think about buying a reusable food pot. If it’s mostly food packaging, try shopping at a zero-waste store or buying in bulk instead. If single-use cups and plastic bottles take up a lot of space, maybe you need a coffee flask or a stainless steel water bottle.
This challenge will not be easy, so get ready in June. If you make one change every day from today, you’ll find July 1st is less of a shock. For help and support, why not encourage your friends, family, and work colleagues to use less plastic for 31 days?