Plastic Free

No-Bulls&#! Guide to Plastic Free July

Plastic Free July is a month-long campaign asking us to reflect on ways that we can reduce the amount of disposable plastics we carry around in everyday life. This global campaign is almost here and if you're like me, it comes with a bit of anxiety. I start thinking of all the ways plastic seeps into our lives and starts to become a bit overwhelming fast. Well I'm here to tell you that it's not about all-or-nothing! I'm also not here to make you feel guilty. As a mom of two little ones who wants to leave a better planet for my kids and future generations, I want to share some simple ways that you can eliminate or reduce your plastic use this month and the rest of the year. Every bit counts, and it may seem insignificant but remember, there are over 300 million people living in the U.S. alone. If every person can eliminate one single-use plastic during the month of July, it's a win! You are helping minimize the impact of plastic which is one of the biggest threats to water, wildlife, and humans. 

1. Awareness is key. This is a time to learn more about the plastic pollution crisis we're facing.

The first step in creating change is learning we have a problem. Step back and look around you to see the ways single-use plastics are used in our daily lives. When you go to the park, the beach, anywhere outdoors, take a look and see if there's plastic waste around.

  • Being more aware is a step towards change. Don't stress, simply look around.
  • Plastic Free July is about encouraging people to become more conscious about the plastics they use, and creating a cleaner world as a result.

2. It's ok to decline single-use plastics

Plastic bag floating in the ocean

Do you ever feel a bit pushed by the cashier to use a plastic grocery bag? So many times when I'm checking out at the grocery store and ask for paper, the bagger will automatically use a plastic bag. Kindly say I'm reducing my plastic use for Plastic Free July. Same to the waiter that automatically brings you a straw.

  • It's ok to decline a plastic bag or straw. If you grocery shop once a week, that's hundreds of single-use plastic bags that you're keeping off our landfills and oceans. Same with the straws. Did you know that Americans use 500 million drinking straws every day?
  • Leave several re-usable bags in your car and if you forget to bring them in the store, put everything back in the cart and bag once you get to your car. Eventually you'll remember to bring them to the store.

3. Be an advocate. Share tips and resources with friends and family about Plastic Free July.

There are tons of resources online about this global movement. It's easier now than ever to share on social media, at local community events, schools, or at work.

  • Motivate others to take the Plastic Free July challenge
  • By choosing to remove one single-use plastic for the month of July you are making a difference! 

 4. Things you can do at work  

  • See if the lunch area or kitchen can use reusable items such as cups, plates, cutlery, etc. This will reduce plastic significantly and also save money.
  • Make sure there's recycling in place. You'll be surprised, sometimes someone just forgot to order the recycling bins.
  • Talk to HR about doing a challenge at work or invite co-workers to join you.

5. Things you can do at school  

  • Pack your kids lunch with re-usable containers and cutlery. They even have re-usable sandwich bags and beeswax wraps now. 
  • Send water or drinks in re-usable bottles.
  • Talk to your environmental club and see how you can help.
  • For teachers, this is a great opportunity to create fun activities and challenges that will empower students to reduce plastics in their own lives.

6. Things you can do at your community  

Community event picnic

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

  • Join a local park or beach clean up.
  • When hosting community events, have people bring their own re-usable water bottles and have a refill station.
  • When bringing food, bring things that are not wrapped in plastic. Get food from local bulk food stores, farmers markets, or homemade. 

6. Things you can do at home  

Plastic free home with laundry detergent sheets

Photo by Heather Ford on Unsplash

  • Grocery shop at refill stores or ones that have bulk options.
  • Buy shampoo and conditioner bars. There are so many great choices today either at your local stores or online.
  • Same with hand and body soaps. Swapping liquid soaps for bars is an easy way to avoid single-use plastic.
  • When hosting a party, avoid balloons or other single-use plastic like cutlery, cups, plates, and glitter.
  • Swap your laundry detergent jugs with plastic-free laundry detergent sheets. It's an easy way to eliminate single-use plastic in your laundry room, create more space, avoid messy spills, and use a safer, non-toxic way to wash your clothes. Did you know that over 700 million laundry detergent jugs are thrown away each year in the U.S. alone?

Remember that Plastic Free July is about making small changes to refuse single-use plastics every day. Focus on one item if this is your first time. And you'll soon find other easy ways to do more and motivate your friends and family. I'm ready for the challenge! Are you?