You may have seen me posting on the I Spy Plum Pie facebook page over the last few days about Plastic Free July, so today I thought I would talk in a little more detail about what it is, and how you can get involved!
Plastic Free July is about raising awareness around the amount of single-use plastic we all use in our day-to-day lives, and helping people to make changes and do something about it. By signing up to the challenge you can commit to giving up plastic for a day, a week or the whole month, and you can also choose to focus on just the Top 4 (plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups & plastic straws) or all single-use plastics. It’s a challenge, not a competition, so focus on whatever changes you think you can make, push yourself a little and see how you go! Every single-use plastic that can be avoided makes a difference, so no matter how small a change you think you’re making it is most definitely worth it.
The Plastic Free July website is full of advice and resources to help you along the way, as well as sending weekly emails with tips and inspiration to keep you on track. You don’t have to sign up to the official challenge though, there are lots of small changes everyone can make to get involved both throughout July and into the future. It does take a little forward planning but it definitely does get easier once you’re in the habit, I promise!
If you want to focus on the Top 4 single-use plastic culprits, here are my tips!
To avoid using plastic bags at the supermarket or anywhere else you shop, pick yourself up some reusable shopping bags and pop them in the boot of your car and in the bottom of your handbag so you have them on hand whenever you need them. These days you can find reusable bags in all kinds of shapes, sizes, patterns and materials, so you’re sure to find something that works for you! Biome have a great selection to get you started.
The number of water bottles being used and thrown away in Australia every month is frightening, so even focussing on this alone would be a huge benefit to the planet. Staying hydrated is obviously still important though, so if you need a bottle for when you’re out and about then go for a stainless steel, glass or even a reusable plastic version which are not only better for the environment, but generally much nicer to drink out of as well!
Takeaway Coffee Cups
Much like water bottles, the number of coffee cups we’re throwing away at present is huge, which is probably not surprisingly given our love of coffee in this country! We collected them up at my work over the course of a week once and in my office alone it came out at well over a thousand which was incredibly eye-opening (and a bit smelly by the end to be honest!). The best way to avoid this is obviously to just sit down and enjoy your coffee in the cafe but we can’t always do that, and that’s where a reusable coffee cup comes into play! The glass versions that have hit the market in recent years are really lovely, but there are plenty of great ceramic and reusable plastic versions as well!
The best way to reduce the impact of plastic straws is to just say no! There are very few drinks that we really need to drink with a straw, and if you do prefer drinking out of a straw then go for a reusable option in glass or stainless steel. I personally have a glass straw which I use at home for drinking smoothies (well, not so much in this weather!) and I really love it, so I highly recommend getting your hands on one!
There are lots of other easy changes you can make too, here are some of my recommendations:
- Switch from a plastic toothbrush to a bamboo option. I changed a few months back and I will definitely not be going back!
- Make your own cleaning products which not only reduces plastic from the packaging of the store bought cleaners, but also reduces the chemicals in your home and saves you money. Win-win-win!
- Switch to bar soap (packaged in cardboard or unpackaged from markets) instead of liquid soap
- Shop at bulk food stores or choose products packaged in cardboard to avoid plastic packaging
- Take your lunch to work in a reusable container (I particularly love my stainless steel lunchbox) to avoid using gladwrap and sandwich bags
- Pick up some reusable food wraps to cover leftovers in your fridge to again avoid gladwrap
There’s a bunch more tips in a post I did last year on reducing plastic use at home, which you can find right here! There are plenty more tips and ideas on the Plastic Free July website as well, covering everything from gardening to personal care and everything in between! It really isn’t as hard as it may seem to reduce the amount of single-use plastic in your life, and it’s definitely something you can ease into over time, so now is an excellent time to give it a try! I’ll be sharing more Plastic Free July tips and learnings in my weekly newsletter as well, so now is an excellent time to pop yourself on the mailing list!