7 Tips to Help You Go Plastic Free this July
02 Jul

7 Tips to Help You Go Plastic Free This July (and Beyond)!

Are you ready to go plastic free this July? Refusing single use plastic is a great way to challenge yourself to live more sustainably and help the planet along the way. We’ve got some tips to help you kick that plastic habit for good!

The Problem

We live in a plastic world. Plastic is present in every part of your day. The problem is that much of it is designed to be used briefly, but last forever. It’s disturbing to realise that every toothbrush you have ever owned and every disposable coffee lid you’ve ever sipped from still exists somewhere.

While some plastic can be recycled, most ends up in landfill or in the ocean, where it takes hundreds of years to break down. And it turns out those ‘biodegradable plastics‘ are no better for the environment. There is now so much plastic in the ocean that it is literally creating garbage patch islands. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is 1m sq km (386,000 sq miles), with the periphery spanning a further 3.5m sq km (1,351,000 sq miles), and it continues to grow.

Plastic has a terrible impact on marine life. It finds its way into the stomachs of fish and birds, and now even humans who eat seafood are ingesting small amounts of plastic as a result. But it’s not all gloom and doom, there’s a growing movement to solve our plastic problem and you can be a part of it

The Challenge

Did you know scientists estimate that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans? Doesn’t that sound horrible? Plastic Free July was born in 2011, from a simple idea – to refuse single-use plastic during July.

The best way to reduce plastic pollution is to refuse, rethink and reduce what we consume. Taking part in Plastic Free July is an easy way to learn the skills to reduce and avoid the use of plastic. When you sign up for Plastic Free July, you can opt to:

  • Avoid single-use packaging
  • Quit the top-4 takeaways (plastic bottles, disposable coffee cups, plastic bags and straws)
  • Go completely plastic free

Take the Plastic Free July challenge and you’ll receive support, encouragement and advice throughout the month. Speak to your family, friends, work friends, and school or flatmates about attempting the challenge together. Everything is easier in a group, plus you are spreading the word and increasing the impact! Attempting to go plastic free isn’t easy, but if we are going to curb plastic pollution this challenge is a great way to start – it allows us to reflect on our habits as consumers and look for alternative choices.

 7 tips for avoiding plastic

1. Reusable cups & bottles

Avoiding plastic is not synonymous with avoiding coffee. I repeat. You don’t kick your caffeine habit or dehydrate to avoid plastic. Reusable cups and bottles can also serve as trendy accessories, and get you a discount at your fave café. Check out KeepCup, Frank Green, JOCO and S’well bottles.

2. Ditch the plastic bag when you shop

The reusable bag should be any the ethical fashionista’s best friend! While many supermarkets and grocery stores now encourage shoppers to bring their own bags, one of the easiest places to forget is when you’re shopping for clothes. A great way to make sure you’re never caught out is to always keep some compact bags tucked in your handbag. For those of you in the US, we recommend Baggu, and in Australia try Envirosax.

3. DIY your beauty routine

Almost every beauty product we use comes in plastic packaging, not to mention those pesky microbeads that hide in many body and face scrubs. But did you know that you can create your own, natural beauty regime from ingredients in your kitchen cupboard? Lush cosmetics also offer a range of plastic-free hair care.

4. Fabric food wraps

Make (and mind) your own beeswax fabric food wrapping to replace cling wrap. You can try a cheap and easy DIY beeswax wraps (including vegan wraps) or alternatively you can purchase some from Beeswrap.

5. Brush better

Toothbrushes are one of life’s necessities. But being committed to your dental hygiene doesn’t mean you need to contribute to plastic pollution. By investing in a biodegradable bamboo or wooden toothbrush, you’ll be looking after yourself, and the planet.

6. No, no, no!

Make ‘no’ your favourite word this July. You might be surprised how often we accept plastic packaging when we’re out shopping – without even realising it. Be ready tell every shop attendant ‘no thanks’ before they hand you your plastic bag, and make sure your bartender knows you want your cocktail with no straw. If straws are a must for you, no problem, get yourself one of these beauties.

7. Be prepared

The best way to avoid single use plastic is to know where you use it most and give yourself an alternative. Too rushed before work to make your own coffee? Have your reusable coffee cup ready and waiting next to your bag each morning. Always buying plastic-wrapped snacks on the go? Spend a few minutes extra at the end of each day to prep some snacks and pop them in reusable containers.

Bonus Tip: Wear your convictions

Fast-fashion is full of plastic. From the production process to the microfibres in textiles, to the plastic packaging, you may be surprised how much plastic it takes to make one piece of clothing. Avoid creating extra waste by learning to op-shop like a pro, or use the Good On You app to find clothing made from natural sustainable materials.

We’re all in this together

Even if you only manage to reduce your plastic consumption by a small amount this July, adopting any of these habits is a fantastic step towards shifting your mindset towards plastic consumption. More than 1 million people took part in last year’s Plastic Free July around the world. Here’s hoping this year will be even bigger!

Editor's note

Feature image via Unsplash. This article was originally published in June 2015. It was republished with updates by Camille Soulos-Ramsay and Kendall Benton-Collins in July 2017.

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