Plastic free July is a challenge to reduce one's plastic intake and to spread awareness on the amount of plastic we use every day. If this is your first year maybe you start small and try not use any plastic to-go containers such as coffee cups, water bottles, or plastic straws. Or maybe you attempt to not purchase any single use plastic at all for the month. It depends on how much you want to challenge yourself.
We are seeing more and more plastic contamination all over the world and the major consequences from its inability to biodegrade. Our oceans are taking one of the biggest hits and plastic is constantly being leaked into it killing marine life. Studies have found microplastics in the fish that is being sold and consumed as well as in drinking water. A recent study has found that humans could be ingesting up to a credit card size worth of plastic a week, or 2,000 tiny pieces of microplastics.
One million plastic bottles are consumed every minute, five hundred billion plastic cups are used every year, and five hundred million plastic straws are used every day (ecoage). Swapping out plastic to-go cups and straws can make more than a difference than you may of thought. You may even grow to like the alternative better than the plastic version! One of my main focuses for the month will be to reduce plastic intake at the grocery store and when ordering take out.
Below are a few easy swaps you can make this month, I'm excluding the basic reusable straw, water bottle, and coffee cup because they are sold nearly everywhere now.
Blueland is a great swap for cleaning products in your home. They offer a multi surface, bathroom, and glass cleaner along with hand and dish soap. You buy the bottle and keep it forever. You add one of their cleaning tablets that you mix with water in the bottle to make a non-toxic cleaning solution. This is one of my favorite house hold swaps I've done so far. The product works just as good as other cleaners but doesn't have the heavy "clean" (chemical) scent. The tablets to refill are only $2 each, so they are much cheaper than other cleaners as well.
A lot of the produce we buy comes in plastic containers, or we put the produce in plastic bags. You don't have to use the plastic produce bags at the grocery store, you can just keep them together during checkout. There are also re-usable produce bags that are often sold at the grocery store or you can but them online. Etsy has a lot of great options available at all price points. For produce that comes in plastic packaging like strawberries and blueberries - you can find a local farmers market to buy your produce. This will also support local farmers and your community.
Look to shop at stores that offer bulk items that you can put into your own bag. This link here allows you to put in your area code and it will list stores near you that offer bulk items. You can use the re-usable produce bags here too.
Shampoo and Body Wash
I've recently reviewed a few different brands of shampoo, conditioner and body bars, you can read more here. I've grown to like the bars better than the liquid options. They seem to be more concentrated and soap up more, which makes me feel more "clean". My skin doesn't feel dry or tight and I find myself not having to apply body lotion as often as I usually would. My hair can also last longer before getting oily in between washes.
Ziplocs and plastic baggies are super convenient, up until a couple years ago I always had them around out of habit. Reusable silicone bags or even tupperware are just as good alternatives that can last basically indefinitely. Stasher offers different shapes, sizes and colors of reusable baggies that are dishwasher and microwave safe.
Personally I think cling wrap can be avoided all together, in my household anyway. But I understand there are certain situations that it can be handy. Beeswax wrap is a reusable alternative that appears to work just as good if not better. Package Free Shop offers different sizes of beeswax wrap as well as a vegan wrap alternative.
Lastly, but definitely not least, I strongly encourage you to slow down your clothe shopping habits. Try to re-invent a summer outfit, swim suit, shoes - whatever it may be, get creative! If you don't feel like you can achieve what you want with what you have, second hand stores are great and the clothes feel just as new when you get them in the mail, I promise. I have done some shopping for denim shorts on Depop and was very happy with my experience.
I hope you challenge yourself this month - and if there is something else that you come across that is plastic and would like to see what alternatives are available, reach out! I am still in the process of making better environmental changes in my own life and would be more than happy to help you. It's said that only 9% of all plastic has been recycled that leave the remaining 89% to landfills and our oceans. The sooner we stop supporting the suppliers of plastic and demand for better sustainable options, the sooner we can achieve positive changes for our Earth.