Plastic Free July is a worldwide campaign to reduce plastic pollution. It helps bring awareness to the sheer amount of plastic products that have silently infiltrated our lives and provides solutions to help reduce them. This year is my first year participating in Plastic Free July and I thought I would document some of the things I learned and challenges encountered along the way.
Here are some of the ways I have been trying to reduce plastic in my day-to-day life:
Use What You Already Have
The most eco-friendly thing you can do is to not buy anything and use what you already have. There are now countless products available to help you reduce waste. Sounds a bit counter-intuitive doesn’t it? Purchasing things to reduce waste only to potentially create more waste. Don’t get me wrong, I have fallen victim to this in the past. But on the bright side I have also found some awesome single-use replacements (see my post here). But try to use up whatever you have – be it shampoo in plastic bottles, old plastic jars and containers – and consider package-free alternatives only when you need to restock on your essentials
We are surrounded by so much that sometimes we need to take a minute to remember we don’t always have to buy things to accomplish what we want to do in life.
Only Buy What You Need
Along the same lines, buying more than what you need is just as bad. I have been guilty of buying stuff when it was on sale only to have it eventually donated or tossed out. Be mindful of each and every one of your purchases and only allow things in your life that you actually need. Food, household items, clothes, you name it.
I need to constantly remind myself of this especially when it comes to clothing. Did you know that almost 60% of our clothing has some form of plastic in it? Polyester, nylon, rayon are all just alternate names for plastic. I try to incorporate natural fibers in my clothes whenever I can… more on that to come in a future post!
Make More Things At Home
Take a stroll in your local supermarket and you realize that almost everything is wrapped in plastic. As a result, I have resorted to making a lot of things at home to minimize waste – brewing coffee at home, making Kombucha, baking bread, and even making my own dog treats! It is inevitable that some waste is still generated when you make things yourself but a bonus is that you are in control of everything that you put into your food.
Support Farmers Markets
Instead of buying from big-box stores, farmers market are a great way to reduce plastic while supporting local businesses. Produce is often not packaged in ridiculous amounts of plastic. While some plastic strawberry pints and paper baskets are used, 19th Avenue Farmers Market will take these back and reuse them! How awesome is that?
Take-Out Less, Dine In More
Styrofoam containers and plastic utensils almost always come with your order of take-out fried rice. So I avoid getting take-out whenever possible. Instead, dine in and order a reasonable amount of food or bring your own containers to pack it back home.
If all else fails, ask in advance if the restaurant will use your containers. I have had some luck with some restaurants taking my reusable containers to pack my take-out order!
Purchase Items in Cans, Glass Containers or in LargeR Quantities
For items that come in either plastic or cans, choose the more recyclable option. For example, recently I wanted some corn so instead of buying the frozen corn I opted for canned corn.
For things that inevitably come in plastic packaging, purchase them in larger quantities to reduce packaging. And as always, try to recycle any plastic packaging either in the Blue Bins or a local recycling depot. Check out my recycling post here.
Visit Your Local Bulk Food Store
Hands down the best way to reduce unnecessary packaging when purchasing common pantry household items is to purchase them in bulk. Bulk Barn has a great program where you can fill up your own reusable containers or cloth bags!
Are you participating in Plastic Free July? I would love to hear of the things you have been doing to keep plastic at bay this month!
TL/dr – Plastic Free July isn’t about perfection. It is about being mindful of the things you purchase and to reduce plastic pollution any way you can. Every little bit helps!