Plastic Free July was the brainchild of the Plastic Free Foundation starting in 2011. They offer the opportunity to take the plastic free challenge and learn to lessen the amount of plastic in your life. Whether you have been taking the challenge for the past 9 years, or you just now heard of it, you can make a difference. This year, over 250 million people participated in the challenge in 177 countries (https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/) Did all 250 million of those folks avoid all plastic in July? I doubt it, but just imagine, if each of them refused a plastic straw 10 times in July, that is 2.5 BILLION fewer straws in the trash. I just checked--that's 2,204,622 pounds of plastic! What if each of them also replaced their toothbrush with bamboo (when the current one wore out), bought their rice or noodles in a cardboard box, and chose a salad dressing in a glass bottle? What if they put their sandwich in a reusable bag or glass storage container (or even a plastic one if you already own it), carried reusable bags to the grocery store, and used a refillable water bottle instead of buying disposable? What if they replaced their pretty pink and blue plastic cotton swabs with paper stemmed ones?
We don't need a few hundred folks doing plastic free perfectly. We need billions of people making their best choices day after day. Currently, microplastics are found all through our food chain and even in our bodies (eww!) Each time you make a plastic free choice, you are helping us move towards a better world for our children.
How else can we reduce our plastic consumption?
Use a natural bar shampoo, or refill your bottle at a refill store like Hello Bulk, Animaila, or Gradient.
Buy toothpaste tablets from these same stores, or make your own toothpaste. If you do this be careful to choose safe ingredients, and talk to your dentist about floride. Look for our personal toothpaste recipe in a future post.
Use a bamboo toothbrush sold in a cardboard box.
Shave with an electric razor, or a use a solid shaving bar and brush instead of shaving cream in a can.
Choose a compostable floss like our Dental Lace. Its made of tussah silk--coocoons that are collected after the moth has left, and comes in a refillable glass container. You can get vegan options, but they are plant based plastics, and my personal experience has not been positive enough to recommend them.
Use an all natural bar soap, not liquid soap in the shower and at the sink.
Choose paper stemmed or reusable cotton swabs instead of plastic.
Remove makeup with a washcloth not wipes.
Shop with reusable grocery bags and produce bags. If your store is not yet allowing these, use your cart to take items to the car, and bag there.
Shop at bulk stores like HelloBulk, or bulk bins as often as you can. Many , but not all of these places allow you to bring your own containers.
Choose items in glass jars over plastic. Glass is recycled locally in Utah.
Use a loofah instead of a plastic scrubby, and cloths instead of sponges. Try to use cotton, as microfiber sheds plastic fibers in to our water supply.
Use glass tupperware, repurposed containers or beeswax wraps and bags for food storage.
Powdered dishwasher detergent usually comes in paper boxes, and you can shop for safer brands.
Refill your dish detergent at a local refill store-- like the ones listed above, or use a solid dish bar.
Powdered Detergents are usually in cardboard boxes. There are many DIY choices if you want to try them. Check the Environmental Working Group for safer choices.
Use an all natural stain stick instead of sprays
Skip the dryer sheet or the fabric softener. Dryer sheets are not compostable, Fabric softener comes in plastic. Try using wool dryer balls to limit static in your laundry.
Out and About
Carry a "go kit" . Tupperware for leftovers, a mug for beverages, reusable silverware and straw.
In these days of COVID, you can't get coffee in your cup, but you can order it with no lid or sleeve, and pour it in to your own cup. Its not perfect, but it will keep your favorite local coffee shop in business.
Start your order with "no straw or plastic silverware, please. If they offer it anyway, don't touch it, or it has to be thrown away. Simply ask the server to remove it, and thank them for helping out.
These are just a few ways you can reduce plastic at home. Share your favorite plastic tip with us!
Thanks to UNsplash for the photos.