Born in 2011, the simple idea of a Plastic Free July was to refuse single-use plastic during July. It has by now become a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution for a cleaner and healthier environment.
Refusing single-use plastic is not only a great way to live more sustainably, it’s also a great way to challenge yourself, create new habits and help our beautiful planet.
So here are 10 tips to help to break the single use plastic habit:
1. USE REUSABLE DRINK BOTTLES
Take a reusable water bottle with you everywhere you go, they are a great investment and come in all forms, colours and can be super light and handy. You can even take it on board a plane, if you empty it before you go through security. Many airports now offer water fountains, so it will save you a lot of money too.
2. USE REUSABLE COFFEE CUPS
If you are a coffee/tea drinker, take a reusable coffee cup with you to avoid getting a disposable cup every time. You can get them in various shops and might even give you a discount at your café. Some of them come even collapsible so they fit in even the smallest bag.
3. ON-THE-GO FOOD
Since convenience food platforms are increasingly popular, try to collect your food and bring your own containers. If the food comes in plastic containers, wash them out and reuse them as food containers for your fridge or freezer. Get an account at reusable container networks like “Barepack” here in France or the “RECUP” system in Germany, where you get your food or drink in a nice container/cup and drop it at a partner restaurant/café, where it will be collected, cleaned and reused.
4. BRING YOUR OWN SHOPPING BAG
The reusable bag should be always with you, not only for grocery shopping, as well when you shop for clothes or other items. If you just keep one of these compact bags in your handbag or backpack, you will never forget it anymore.
5. BULK FOOD SHOPPING
Since the food we buy in the supermarket often comes with unnecessary plastic, go to bulk stores, plastic free shops or local farmers markets, if you have any around you. But don’t forget to bring your own bag and plastic containers with you.
6. WRAP YOUR FOOD IN FABRIC OR USE CONTAINERS
Replace cling-foil and tinfoil in the kitchen with beeswax wrap or container.
In the bathroom there are items out of plastic hidden, but these are easy to replace. There are three options to do this.
First, do your own beauty care products. There are numerous online recipes and tutorials for soap, shampoo, shower gel, etc. Second, simply buy products which come without plastic packaging. There are many brands who provide soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream in bars, glass or cardboard boxes. Third, refill your empty plastic containers at a bulk store.
Replace your old toothbrushes with bamboo or wooden ones or a model with replaceable heads. Switching to a safety razor with replaceable stainless steel razor blades will eliminate plastic and allow you to recycle the blades. Instead of using disposable sanitary products, swap to period cups, reusable pads or menstruation panties.
8. BALLOONS AND DECORATION SWAP TO ECO FRIENDLY ALTERNATIVES
Since plastics, including balloons and glitter, are easily blown down drains, into rivers and our ocean where they remain in the environment forever, (even ‘biodegradable’ latex balloons) and become a choking hazard to animals and children, try replacing them with eco-friendly alternatives.
Swap glitter for confetti out of dried leaves. Swap balloons for paper chains, garlands or paper flowers, pompons.
Let your plastic free event inspire others to celebrate without balloons and other harmful decoration
If you aren’t working from home, extend your plastic free July to the workplace and start a discussion with your coworkers on how you can reduce and replace plastic waste at the office. Your office should already recycle paper, cardboard and simple plastics at the least. Tackle things which are really hard to recycle like pens, paper clips, printer ink cartridges and set up a collection.
Snacks & food: Having refillable water stations in the office and loose coffee instead of coffee capsules could be a start. For lunch break, bringing your Bento box to work or eating in instead of taking it away helps to reduce waste a lot.
10. BUY LESS
Change your attitude towards shopping, shop for things you really need and consider renting or buying second-hand. When you do buy new, check if there is a better or more sustainable alternative. Quality for quantity.
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Photo credit: title picture – ©Stojo