Plastic Free July is the best way to test if a waste-free lifestyle is for you. Enduring 31 days of change is a lot more feasible for some than a lifelong commitment. This dedicated month is a great movement to get involved in because maybe some zero waste habits will stick with you after the 31st of July.
91% of plastic does not get recycled. Think about every piece of plastic you’ve ever tossed in the trash. Even if you toss something in the recycling bin, it doesn’t always get made into something else. For people living the Zero Waste lifestyle, it is an uphill climb. Every day, we face challenges that force us to choose between the earth and convenience. But convenience is the real enemy. It is not easy to give it up but with small changes, you can get used to a new, lower impact way of living.
Below is a list of ways you can participate in Plastic Free July. Whether you choose to learn a new skill or make a simple swap, your one change can make a difference to our waste problem, and your quality of life.
- Say no to plastic straws – Saying no BEFORE you get your drink is hard and it will take some discipline. You can do it! Bring around a reusable stainless steel one if you really love your drinking straws.
- Don’t eat out – Have breakfast and dinner at home. Better yet, do what I do and keep a stock of oatmeal and fixings in the office so you never go without the most important meal of the day.
- Make your lunch – Meal prepping requires a dedicated amount of time but you will avoid takeout containers. Who doesn’t love homemade meals and saving money?
- Don’t buy any new clothes – Chances are, you don’t need them. Better to spend your money on life experiences and fun.
- Hit the thrift store – If you need to buy something specific, look at thrift stores before you abuse your cousin’s Amazon prime account.
- Replace Ziploc bags – Reusable food containers work just fine. Dry goods can also be stored in cloth bags. This one was a HUGE transition for me when I first started Zero Waste. I was a baggie abuser.
- Avoid the Keurig – When an inventor of a product regrets his work, you know there’s a very good reason.
- Bring a reusable bag – Anywhere you go, everywhere you go. You would be surprised how often one needs a bag on the fly.
- Repurpose your trash – Instead of recycling glass jars, give them a new host like coffee, flour, or some pen and pencils. The possibilities are ENDLESS.
- Try a new Zero Waste product – A bamboo toothbrush or safety razor are great products to try. Check out Life Without Plastic or the Package Free Shop. Choose one or two and try the swap for the month. I fancy Meow Meow Tweet’s natural deodorant!
- Make your water bottle your best friend – Try to bring one everywhere you go to train your brain to never forget it.
- Drink loose leaf teas – Many tea bags have plastic in them. That’s a popular zero waste fun fact. Get a stainless steel tea strainer or just use a cloth bag.
- Use it up! – Beauty products, cleaning products, you name it. For one month avoid buying new and try to use up what you have in the house.
- Bring your own coffee cup – If you didn’t know, you can bring your own cup to any coffee shop and they will fill your cup with your favorite brew and give you a few cents off.
- Play PUG – Bring a little baggie with you to the beach, take 20 minutes and Pick Up Garbage. You could also play PUG at the park, waterfall, on a hike or even around your neighborhood.
- Wash with a bar – Switch your liquid body wash and shampoo for a loose soap bar and shampoo bar.
- Make your own something – DIY projects are the best! There are so many recipes out there for household things like all-purpose cleaners and natural laundry detergent. If you make something during Plastic Free July and like it… Game Changer!
- Explore the bulk section – It is simple, just weigh your container and fill it with your bulk item. Write the PLU# on your hand or on your phone give this info to the cashier.
- Shop the outer part of the grocery store – Bring some reusable produce bags. This is the best way to avoid all the food packaged in plastic. You’ll also eat healthier as a result.
- Know your single stream – Know what you can and can’t recycle in your bin. Every town will accept different things so it is good to brush up on yours. I recently discovered that I can recycle cartons!
- Bring reusable utensils everywhere – You never know, maybe you’ll get hungry while out and the place you want to eat doesn’t have reusables.
- Clean with rags – Paper towels aren’t made of plastic but they sure are wrapped in them. Rags work just as well and are easily washable. Possibly with your DIY detergent!
- Only buy glass – If you need to buy, stick to glass jars only. They are indefinitely recyclable and easily re-purposeful
- Paper Trash Bags– As long as you’re not adding anything wet to your bin, try lining your garbage with paper rather than plastic.
- Say no to a bag – Every time you approach a cashier, say “I don’t need a bag” as soon as you reach the register. Trust, a cashier’s first instinct is to put your things in a bag so this just stops them right away.
- Free Wasteless Fun – Do a free outdoor activity and bring your own EVERYTHING! Maybe a picnic or beach trip. Soak up the sun plastic free!
- Learn a new Zero Waste skill – Composting, sewing, gardening, etc. There are so many skills that can help you reduce waste at home.
- Collect your food scraps – Whether you compost yourself or bring it to a friend’s house, or even to a composting facility, try to keep your scraps out of the trash. A little secret: for a few months I was collecting and bringing it to whole foods and dumping it into the compost trash bin. 😀
- Treat yo self, at home – Avoid salons and other beauty business, and indulge in self-care at home! Give yourself a bath and have your bestie paint your toenails. Nail salons produce a LOT of garbage. I know, I used to work at one.
- A Zero Waste Period – For the ladies out there looking to escape the pink tax, if only for one week out of the month, perhaps trying a menstrual cup is your next move. It does take some getting used to but rewarding in many ways! Cloth pads are also great.
- Just buy nothing plastic – The best thing you will learn during this month is that plastic is EVERYWHERE and it is very hard to avoid. Dedicate July to not spending a dime on plastic.
This list is not meant to be intimidating. Even committing to one of these will make a big impact on the amount of waste you create in your lifetime, let alone a month. Some say, “Well, I am only one person. How much of a difference could I really make?” Each person produces, on average, 4.4 lbs of trash each day. For me, I made my decision to cut plastic after noticing my room always looking like a landfill and had enough. Once I realized most of the trash was plastic, I knew what needed to happen.
I hope that your commitment to the earth during the month of July opens up your eyes to the impact one single person can make on this world by making small changes. Please share ways you’re participating in Plastic Free July in the comments! 🙂