How To Take Part in Plastic Free July
Anyone else torn between wondering how it’s already July, but also, how is it only July?
This year has been a whirlwind to say the least, and while it’s the middle of winter for us in Australia (my personal least favourite season), July has become a month that I look forward to for one very special reason – it’s Plastic Free July.
Plastic is everywhere.
Did you know that half of all plastics ever manufactured were produced in the last 15 years? The demand for plastics has grown exponentially due to its convenience and durability, however this has also led to a ‘throw-away culture’, with many items produced being designed for single use (looking at you water bottles, food wrappers, and plastic bags, to just name a few). While these items have a short lifespan to fulfil their designed purpose, they survive in the environment for hundreds of years. Where do these plastics usually end up? About 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans every single year, posing a huge threat to the lives of millions of marine life and ecosystems.
The production of plastic comes down to simple supply-and-demand – it is so deeply ingrained into our daily lives, that completely eradicating it seems almost insurmountable. But there are small changes we can all make to limit our footprint. If you’ve ever wanted to live more sustainably, or wondered how you can do it, Plastic Free July is a great opportunity to start, and we’re going to give you the tools to do it!
The best way to start is to identify exactly where you’re using plastics in your every day routine. Do you get a takeaway coffee each morning? Is your shampoo & conditioner in plastic bottles? Is your toothbrush plastic? are your groceries pre-packed in plastic? doing a simple audit of your household items will help you to plan how to remove and replace them effectively.
Here’s our tips for how to take part in Plastic Free July:
BYO re-usable coffee cups, water bottles, and utensils
Can’t forgo your morning coffee? Don’t worry, we’re not asking you to, just that you bring your own keep cup if you choose to buy takeaway. Re-usable and eco-friendly coffee keep cups are readily available at most supermarkets, convenience stores, green grocers, and even your local café! Buy a couple and keep them in convenient places, like your handbag and your car, so you don’t have the opportunity to say “I forgot”.
Going out for the day? Pack a re-usable water bottle to take with you (we prefer stainless steel) and refill it as you need. Not only is this better for the environment, but plastic bottles release harmful chemicals into the water you’re drinking, so it’s better for YOU too.
Say NO to plastic straws. If you really want to use a straw, bring your own stainless steel one to use, and just remember to tell the cashier before they prepare your drink.
Getting takeaway food? If they use plastic cutlery/containers, bring your own!
Smart grocery shopping
Take a walk through your local supermarket and marvel at just how much plastic fills each aisle. The experience is overwhelming and it can seem impossible to shop without buying items pre-packaged in plastic, but with good planning, it can be done. Start by writing a shopping list – this will prevent you from purchasing things you don’t need! For items you do need, buying in bulk is an easy way to reduce plastic, and save money at the same time. Schedule in a visit to your local bulk food store and stock up on your essential loose items – flour, nuts, grains, pasta, and more. For other items, try getting what you can from a local grocer, or better yet, a farmers market! Local produce not only comes plastic-free, but reduces the negative impact of transporting foods across long distances (heavily treated to last longer, and emissions from logistics). If you’re restricted to only supermarket shopping and your regular items are pre-packaged in plastic, have a look around and see if there’s another option that comes in sustainable packaging. If not, ask yourself if you really need it. Or can it wait until you can find a sustainable option elsewhere?
Make sure when doing any shopping, you’re bringing your own re-usable shopping bags.
Storing your food
Goodbye cling-wrap and sandwich bags. Hello glass containers & jars.
Overhaul your bathroom supplies
Your bathroom is a hotspot for plastics. Your toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, shampoo, conditioner, cleaning agents, and soaps, are all likely adding to your overall plastic consumption. Luckily for you, there are plenty of alternatives in the market these days. Keep an eye out for products that are labelled re-usable and plastic-free, and are either packaging-free, or use eco-friendly packaging (like cardboard). This includes bamboo toothbrushes, natural shampoos and conditioners in bar form, and plastic-free razors. If you love a bit of a project, why not have a go at creating your own soaps and shampoos, using natural and organic ingredients? Some recipes here.
You need to start using menstrual cups
As women, our monthly cycle can rack up a serious bill of disposable items – think of the number of tampons and pads a woman needs in her lifetime (over 9k on average, with over 3billion women on this planet... you do the maths). These products are packed full of nasties, from the chemicals used in producing the cotton tampons and pads are made of, to the plastics they’re wrapped in for sale. If only there was another solution that was better for our bodies and the planet. Introducing…. Menstrual cups! Natural, eco-friendly, BPA and chemical-free, comfortable, reliable, easy to clean, easy to use… menstrual cups! Each cup is designed to last up to 10 years if cared for properly, massively reducing the potential harm of traditional sanitary products. Our favourite? Lunette.
Not good for the environment, or you. Take a look at your shelf of beauty products - cleansers, toners, make-up, wipes, etc. Can you pronounce or recognise all of the ingredients listed on the packaging? What is the packaging made from? I'm not saying throw away everything you're currently using, but next time you need to replace something, opt for natural products that are gentle on your skin, in sustainable packaging that is gentle on the planet. A couple of our favourite products: Happy Skin Care make-up removal pads, and Good & Clean deodorants.
Clean up your rubbish & waste
Bin liners! These can really add up in your overall plastic consumption, and can be very easily removed. Opt for compostable bin liners if possible, or simply line your bin with newspaper, or even go liner-free (washing out your bin as needed). Next step is to make sure you are discarding your waste correctly - be mindful of what goes into general waste vs. recycling, and if you haven’t already, start your own at-home compost!
Be a considerate consumer
I’m all for ‘treating yourself’, but when you do, it pays to be considerate about where your products come from and what they’re made of. Find brands that are transparent about their practices so that you can make informed decisions about exactly where your hard-earned money goes, and if possible, choose those that are passionate about sustainability! What products are made from is one part of the journey – have a look if they share information on their production processes, packaging, and logistics too, to better understand the overall impact their business has.
High-quality and sustainable products can be a bit more expensive than their plastic alternatives on the market, however if you adopt a mindset of ‘cost-per-use’ rather than ‘cost-per-item’, you’ll find that the value of what you’re getting from a high-quality product far exceeds. Making a slightly greater up-front investment in quality, reduces the potential costs overtime in replacing the cheaper alternatives.
Choose recycled and repurposed
I’m amazed at how innovative companies and processes are becoming these days. An increasing number of consumer goods are being made from recycled materials, which in itself is impressive, but more often than not the repurposed products are of a much higher quality. Our swimwear, for example, use fabrics that are made from recycled post-consumer materials sourced from our oceans, including fishing nets and plastic bottles. These fabrics are incredibly high quality, with excellent shape retention, UV- and chlorine-resistant, four-way stretch, colour fastness, and very soft to the touch. Did you know that all fabrics shed micro-fibres/plastics when in contact with water? These fabrics significantly reduce the rate at which these are released, limiting the potential harm to marine life and ecosystems. Find out more about our sustainability journey here.
It definitely won't be an easy month, but it's a step in the right direction!
We can't wait to see you adopt these strategies to minimise plastic consumption in your daily lives. Together, we can bring about effective global change for our beautiful planet!
Stay tuned for tips and tricks throughout the month to keep you feeling accountable and inspired.
Want even MORE information? Good on you. Check out Plastic Free July's website.