8 Ways to Participate in Plastic Free July

Have you heard about Plastic Free July? This amazing initiative was started by the not-for-profit organization, Plastic Free Foundation, and aims to help participants eliminate the use of all single use plastic for an entire month.

At SOL, maintaining a small carbon footprint and producing as little waste as possible is of huge importance to us, and it’s one of the reasons we use no plastic in any of our packaging.  So naturally, we were really excited to learn about this initiative!

Reducing our plastic consumption can feel totally overwhelming at first because it feels like plastic is just about everywhere! Luckily, plastic free options are becoming more and more available, as individuals and companies begin to really grasp the need for more environmentally friendly alternatives. This, combined with a little research and prep, is making it easier to ditch the plastic, and in this week’s post, we want to share some great tips and ideas to help you get involved.

While going completely plastic free is great, you don’t have to feel like this is an all or nothing thing either. Maybe rather than eliminating single use plastics completely, you choose to use this month to learn about and slowly begin implementing some alternatives.

However you choose to approach this is up to you. Now let’s jump into eight ways that you can participate in Plastic Free July.

Find a zero-waste blog or online community to join

One of the best ways you can ensure success with a new habit is to connect with like minded people. It can be so motivating when you are making changes within a community rather than on your own. Finding a blog or online group about zero-waste/plastic free living is a great way to learn more about the issue and discover tips for adopting the lifestyle.

We’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing trailblazers in the zero-waste movement, and we love checking out their blogs for insights and inspiration. Going Zero Waste and Zero Waste Collective are both chock full of helpful information and are great places to get started.

Check out a documentary

One of the easiest (and most impactful) ways to get up to speed on what plastic is doing to our environment is to check out a documentary. Even though we may know that plastic is negatively impacting our planet, it can be hard to conceptualize something that we don’t see directly in front of us. Documentaries can help you to visualize and more fully understand the issues at hand. The Plastic Free July website lists a number of recommendations, and a quick google search will land you some more as well.

You can watch on your own at home or even host a screening for your friends and community to help spread the word!

There are also a number of great books available! Check out the Independent’s top picks list to get started.

Host a clean up

Reducing our consumption of plastic is one thing, but that doesn’t change the fact that our environment is already full of plastic litter. Hosting a clean-up in your local area is a wonderful way to take care of our environment and protect your local wildlife.

Ditch the top four offenders

While the number of plastic items being produced these days is practically never ending, there are four items that make up the bulk of our plastic consumption: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups, and plastic straws. Simply by eliminating these items from your use and replacing them with reusable versions, you can make a huge dent in your plastic use.

If you’re not ready to go completely plastic free, consider which plastic items you use most and which you’re ready to give up and start from there!

Reduce waste at the grocery store

Food packaging is a minefield of unnecessary and excessive single plastic use. At times, this may be unavoidable, but there are a number of things you can do to purchase items with less plastic. Firstly, just being aware of how things are packaged is helpful. When we aren’t aware of it, it’s easy to put plastic wrapped items in our cart, but once we are aware, we can look for better choices. Some produce, for example, is sold on Styrofoam wrapped in plastic wrap, so instead of reaching for these, you can simply buy unpackaged fruit.

Another thing to consider is where you’re shopping. Typically, places like farmers’ markets use far less plastic packaging than big box stores, and shopping there gives you the added bonus of supporting your local farmers!

Buying in bulk can also help you to seriously cut down on wasteful packaging. Many bulk food stores allow you to bring your own containers, so you can purchase your food in reusable jars and skip the packaging all together.

Switch to reusable products

For a generally small upfront cost, you can purchase reusable alternatives to almost all single use plastics. Glass water bottles, canvas bags, metal straws, and coffee mugs take care of the four top used plastic items, and there are lots of wonderful products to replace other commonly used disposable items as well including menstrual cups, beeswax food wrap, and cloths. You can also buy items made of natural materials instead of plastic, such as bamboo toothbrushes.

One thing to keep in mind when making the switch is to ask yourself what you really need. For example, if you don’t really need a straw you could skip them completely instead of using a reusable version.

Plastic free at work

It’s one thing to go plastic free at home where you are in control of what is purchased and how it’s used, but it’s quite another thing at work. Luckily, many workplaces are open and even eager to find ways to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly, so you may find that they are more than happy to get on board with the challenge.

The Plastic Free July website offers the following tips to creating a plastic free workplace:

  1. Workplace procurement: Make an impact on your workplace’s procurement practices.
  2. Bin audit: Are you recycling, composting, or avoiding waste correctly?
  3. Workplace kitchens: How can single use plastic be decreased or eliminate in your workplace kitchen.
  4. Engaging co-workers: Invite your coworkers to participate in Plastic Free July.

The site also has a list of recommendations for businesses, which you can help to implement or propose to your workplace.

Find an event

Plastic Free July is still very new but events have already started popping up around the world- you can head to their site to check out a map of event locations. As you can see, the majority of events are located in Australia, where the movement was founded, but has begun to spread to Asia, Europe, and the US.

And if there’s not an event being held in your area, why not start one yourself?

We hope this post offered you some easy to implement plastic free tips that you can adopt this month (and beyond!). To learn more about Plastic Free July and how you can participate, visit their website here.

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