Plastic Free July
Living plastic-free isn’t easy. If you’ve ever tried living a single-use plastic- free life, you probably started out confident, but then quickly realized that it was actually very difficult. It’s a great reminder of the amount of plastic waste we have in our lives.
About half of all plastic produced in the world is for single-use or disposable items, and scientists estimate that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the world’s ocean than fish. While these figures are staggering, there are many ways to join and support the reduction of plastic in your life, including by joining Plastic Free July.
From a humble office initiative, to a now global movement, Plastic Free July raises awareness of the troubling environmental impact of single-use plastic items. Plastic Free July began in 2011 with a handful of participants in Western Australia and has since grown to over 2 million participants across 170 different countries. By committing to a plastic-free life for the entire month of July, people can learn and implement new habits that will continue throughout the remainder of the year, while helping reducing landfill waste by nearly 10%.
Part of this involves supporting behavior change, like habitually choosing to refuse shopping bags, straws, takeaway containers, and coffee cups amongst other commonly used plastic items.
Here are some impactful ways that you, too, can join the movement and make your July plastic free:
Make your own cleaning products
Most cleaning products can be easily made in bulk to avoid excessive, wasteful packaging. You likely already have these ingredients in your cupboard!
Dish soap: Combine 4 tablespoons of baking soda to hot water.
Fabric softener: Add 1 cup of white vinegar during the rinse cycle.
Toilet cleaner: Sprinkle baking soda into the toilet bowl. Rise with vinegar and scrub.
All-purpose cleaner: Combine 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water.
All-purpose disinfectant: 3 cups hot water, 3 teaspoons of borax, and 10 drops of eucalyptus, lemon, or lavender oil.
Use what you already have! Save your glass jars from pasta sauce, pickles, etc. and reuse.
Wrap sandwiches in paper
Invest in beeswax wrappers, like these, to replace saran wrap or tin foil.
Wrap herbs in a slightly damp towel and place in a glass container.
Our bathrooms are often filled with little plastic containers, most of which can be swapped for better alternatives.
Toothbrush: Look for a bamboo option.
Shampoo: Shop for a solid shampoo bar
Deodorant: 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, 3 tablespoons of baking soda, 2 tablespoons of shea butter, essential oil.
Toothpaste: ½ cup coconut oil, 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 15 drops of peppermint essential oil.
Sunscreen: invest in a locally made brand in a recycled container or a container that you can bring back to be refilled.
Make your own healthy dog treats.
Find a food brand that comes in paper bags.
Bring your own container to the butcher for bones, and treats.
If you require vegetables, ask your local grocery store for blemished or misshapen veggies that can’t be sold.
Take what you need. Reusable bags, containers, jars, bread bag or tea towel.
Choose items in glass over plastic containers.
Avoid chewing gum. Gum is made from polymers which are synthetic plastics that do not biodegrade.
Shop at your local farmers market. Most local markets avoid plastic packaging and you help support the local community. It’s a win-win.
Buy in bulk when you can. Consider sharing with neighbors or close friends if you have a small family.
Overcoming the single-use plastic problem starts with each of us as an individual. As consumers, we have the power to choose environmentally-friendly products and create behavioral change. If we all do a little, together we have the power to affect meaningful change. By becoming mindful of our plastic use, we can create a cleaner world for generations to come.
“We must work towards a world where plastic pollution is unthinkable.” - Captain Charles Moore.
Written by Magen Schifiliti ~ Conservation & Education Director at Trilogy