A Whole Month of No Plastic?

The first time I heard about “Plastic Free July,” I thought it sounded crazy. How in the world do you go a whole month without using any plastic? Plastic is easy and cheap, so it’s everywhere in our culture. Packaging, straws, bags, containers, toys, bottles, … it’s hard to avoid.

But more and more often, we are hearing about the horrific impact that plastic is having on our planet. Whales and other marine life washing up on shore, dead because their stomachs were stuffed full of plastic and their bodies couldn’t clear it — meaning they starved to death even with access to food. Turtles with mangled shells that grew between the six-pack ring that it was stuck in. Landfills full of the stuff, which will not biodegrade in our lifetime. And then there’s the litter we see lining our streets and parks and neighborhoods.

So, what can we do? Can we really give up ALL the plastic in our lives?

Well, yes. Of course we could. There are people all over the world who live 100% plastic-free lives. A quick trip to the Google search bar can show you books and blogs and articles all about it.

But it takes a radical change to live that lifestyle. So I’m starting small. Below, I’ll list some ways we have cut back on plastic in our family and products we use*, and some other ideas that are on our “to-do list.” Find one or two to focus on this month, and see how it goes. As you get one under your belt and it becomes your new normal, add another.

If we all agree together to make these small changes, they’ll add up and we WILL make change.

So, in no particular order, here are some #plasticfreejuly tips!

  1. Bring your own bags to the grocery store. You know you have them in your car. Bring them inside.
  2. While grocery shopping, look for products with less or no plastic packaging. (For example, I usually shop at Aldi, but most of their produce is packaged in plastic, so I’ve started buying my fruits and veggies at another store where I can buy them in bulk.)
  3. Skip the plastic bags in the produce section. Your veggies don’t need an extra bag!
  4. Really want a bag to hold your green peppers? Buy reusable mesh produce bags like these.
  5. If you’re getting soda (or pop, for my Michiganders), buy cans in the box. Skip plastic bottles and can rings.
  6. Just grabbing a few things at a store? Tell them you don’t need a bag. Carry out your new shirt or the bread you forgot to buy when you went to the store yesterday. (Just me?)
  7. When shopping for clothes, take your clothes off the hanger and give them back to be re-used whenever possible.
  8. Practice saying, “No straws please,” to waitstaff and drive thru attendants. Get some reusable straws and keep them in your bag. I have these, but there are lots of options.
  9. Actually, just avoid drive-thru eating. All of the food and drinks come in plastic.
  10. If you’re filling up your cup inside a restaurant or cafeteria, skip the lid and straw.
  11. Carry a reusable mug for your morning coffee or tea.
  12. Carry silverware in your bag instead of using disposable plastic. You can grab a set from home, or buy a cool bamboo set like this.
  13. Bring your lunch from home. Bring your food in reusable containers and wash after.
  14. Keep a plate, bowl, cup, and silverware set at your office for workplace lunches, instead of using disposables.
  15. Keep a reusable takeout box in your bag when you go to a restaurant for leftovers. I have my eye on something like these or these(Technically these are still plastic, but they are reusable and recyclable.)
  16. Buy some reusable food bags instead of using plastic baggies. I have these adorable monster ones that I bought for my kids, but I use them too.
  17. Wrap food in beeswax wraps instead of plastic wrap. My friend uses these ones from Etee, and I’ve also heard good things about Bee’s Wrap. I also love Khala Cloths (khalacloths.com) because they also offer vegan (no beeswax) options!
  18. Does your kid love lunchables? Get a metal bento box like this and make your own. (So much healthier, too!)
  19. Get a reusable water bottle and refill it. You already know this, but if you’re not doing it, start this month. (Bonus points if it’s a glass or metal bottle.)
  20. Look for soaps that don’t come in plastic. I found these at a small country grocery store, so surely there are some near you.
  21. Buy shampoo and lotion bars instead of bottled shampoo and lotion. They work great (I get mine at Lush), and come plastic-free!
  22. Buy a toothbrush with a bamboo handle. It feels different than plastic while brushing, but you’ll get used to it after a day or two. My husband uses these, which come in plastic-free packaging, too.
  23. Don’t like the bamboo? Next best is the brush from Preserve Products (I use this one which I found at my local Trader Joe’s). They are made from recycled plastic and can be recycled through the company.
  24. Preserve also makes razors! I use this one.
  25. Clean with rags and dishcloths instead of plastic sponges and scrubbers. (I knit my own dishcloths, which is a fun hobby, too.)

So, which one are you going to try out first? This is just a start, and there are lots of great ideas out there. Let me know if you have other ideas in the comments below!

Happy Plastic Free July!

(*Disclosure: many of the links above are affiliate links. If you shop using one of my links, I get a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. Feel free to google instead of using my links!)

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