Plastic Free July is here! What started off as one woman in Australia wanting to reduce her plastic use, has now become a global movement with over 250 million people from 177 countries taking part! We would love to help you take part too.
What is Plastic Free July?
Plastic Free July is a challenge to reduce single-use plastic waste in our lives. Anyone and everyone can take part. You can start small by vowing to remove one plastic item, or you can go all in and try to cut out plastic altogether!
Run by the Plastic Free Foundation, an independent not-for-profit, Plastic Free July is now award winning and one of the most influential campaigns to reduce plastic in the world.
Many people started by challenging themselves to reduce plastic in July, but 9 out of 10 people made changes that stuck well beyond July and became a way of life.
Participants managed to reduce their household waste by 23kg per person per year and have contributed to a total saving of 825 million kg of plastic waste per year!!
You can still sign up to take part here: https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/take-the-challenge/
14 Ideas to Help You Reduce Your Plastic Use
- Support your local farm shop
We all know finding plastic free food in the supermarket is tough. And if it is available, it usually costs more. Why not try your local farm shop for fresh, in season, locally grown fruit and veg, plus cheese and other products that come plastic free. You’ll be eliminating air miles from your food, supporting local businesses and reducing plastic waste at the same time.
- Find a milkman
The milkman has made a comeback in recent years. Go back to the old school with fresh milk delivered to your door in glass bottles. They will often deliver things like juice as well and some do dairy free milks like oat milk and coconut milk in glass bottles. Milk & More do a range of food too. Head to https://www.findmeamilkman.net/ to see who delivers in your area.
- Head to your local Refill shop
If you are lucky enough to have a refill shop in your area, you can take your own containers and bottles for anything from pasta and rice, to herbs, chocolate, cleaning products and toiletries. Try searching on https://www.zerowastenear.me/ to see what’s in your local area.
Always keep an eye out for specialist small businesses too, for example, I get loose leaf tea from Enchanted Forest Tea in Hemel Hempstead. I take my own container for plastic free and delicious teas!
- Use a reusable coffee cup or flask
If you’ve been craving your favourite coffee during lockdown, like me you will have been thrilled when the cafes re-opened. However, some are not accepting reusable coffee cups due to COVID-19 (despite scientists confirming it is safe to do so). Give them a call beforehand to check if they will accept your reusable cup. If they do, we have a range of coffee cups, including collapsible cups. If not, save the money and take your own hot drink. You can use one of these insulated bottles that will keep hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours. (Profits donated to charity too!) We also have these gorgeous flasks that will keep drinks hot for around three hours.
- Always carry your water bottle
An estimated 35.8 million plastic bottles are used every day in the UK, and only 19.8 million of these are recycled! Take your own water bottle to reduce plastic and save money on buying drinks too.
- Avoid crisps and chocolate in non-recyclable wrappers
Around 20 million crisp packets are made EVERY DAY in the UK. They are a mixture of materials making them difficult to recycle. Council recycling schemes won’t accept them, it would have to be through a Terracycle scheme. The UK also consumes 600,000 tonnes of chocolate per year, the majority wrapped in non-recyclable plastic.
If you can’t live without crisps, try Two Farmers plastic free crisps. .
For chocolate, there are a range of plastic free options such as Green and Blacks and Divine Chocolate that are available in supermarkets. Another great option is Tony’s Chocolate. These are all palm oil free too.
- Bring your own bags
Plastic bags take hundreds of years to degrade, meaning every single bag ever made is still in existence today. They break down into smaller and smaller pieces where they are often mistaken for food by animals, particularly marine animals and birds. In fact 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags every year.
The 5p carrier bag charge helped to reduce plastic bags, however sales of the “bags for life” massively increased, essentially just shifting the problem. Use organic cotton bags, a rucksack or anything you already have at home. We have some great upcycled cement bags, and organic cotton bags made by a women’s cooperative too.
- Compostable bin liners or even better; DIY
Along the same lines as above, bin liners end up in landfill or the environment where they take hundreds of years to break down into micro-plastics. While reusing plastic carrier bags is better than those bags going to landfill empty, they won’t biodegrade either.
A better option is to use certified compostable liners. Even better still, you can make your own by lining the bin with old newspaper. See a video tutorial here. (We have natural, plastic free glue in stock to make them with.)
- Plastic free toiletries - solid shampoo and conditioner
When I started my plastic free journey, I couldn’t imagine achieving a plastic free bathroom. Luckily, there are now so many amazing products on the market, that I’m actually spoilt for choice! As well as plastic free, all the products I stock are also natural, with no nasty chemicals so they are better for us AND the planet.
A solid shampoo is one of the first swaps many people make, it is also one of the most difficult. If you’ve already tried, you may have experienced the “transition period”. If so, check my blog post on how to get through it. Happily, we stock shampoos that avoid the transition period altogether, Beauty Kubes and Awake Organics. View our natural hair care here.
- Plastic free skin care
As I mentioned above, I’ve actually been spoilt for choice by the amazing natural, plastic free skin care products on offer. As well as being plastic free, all our products are cruelty free and all are made by small, UK businesses. Plus, my skin has literally never been better! Some of the products have a pipette or pump which contain plastic, but they are available to refill with aluminium lids. Check out the natural skin care range here.
- Plastic free dental products
Sticking with the bathroom, dental products are a huge cause of plastic pollution. If we all change our toothbrush every three months, as recommended by dentists, that means we go through four brushes per year. And if there are 66 million people in the UK, that's 264,000,000 toothbrushes making their way to landfill (and many to the ocean) every year!
That's a lot of plastic. So if we all change to a bamboo toothbrush, that would make a huge difference! Then there are toothpaste tubes which can’t be recycled by local councils. Luckily, we have bamboo toothbrushes and plenty of UK made, natural toothpastes, mouth wash and floss options in our dental care section.
- Plastic free washing up
Sponges and cloths are usually made of plastic, plus plastic washing up brushes are made with plastic bristles. That means every time they are used to wash up, microfibres are released into the waterways and ultimately into the ocean. Once in the ocean, nasty chemicals and toxins cling to the microfibres, they are mistaken for food and eaten by fish and from there, can enter the food chain.
That’s not even mentioning the plastic bottles of washing up liquid!
But there are plastic free options for all of the above. See our washing up section for inspiration.
- Refillable or dissolvable cleaning products
If you have a refill shop near you, you can take your empty bottles and get a range of cleaning products refilled. Alternatively, we stock dissolvable cleaning pods. Simply fill an empty spray bottle with water, drop in the pod, give it a shake and the pod will dissolve ready to use. Check out the range of dissolvable cleaning pods here.
- Wax wraps to replace cling film
Plastic cling film is an awful, non-recyclable material. More than 1.2 million metres of the stuff are used in the UK alone every year, that's enough to go around the world 30 times!
Wax wraps are the perfect way to replace cling film. You can use them to cover left overs, make a bag for salad leaves, wrap sandwiches, wrap food in the freezer, anything you can think of really! You can even use them to wrap soap bars for travelling. Plus they come in a range of designs and look fabulous! We stock both bees wax and vegan wraps.
I hope these 14 points have given you some ideas for reducing your plastic use this July and beyond.
Please don’t feel overwhelmed. Take it one or two products at a time. You could start by making a list of all the plastic items in one room and put a star next to any that are about to run out. Make those items the priority and look for a plastic free replacement.
If you want to try out a refill shop, don’t feel like you need to go out and buy fancy glass containers. See what you have already. If you have plastic Tupperware containers, empty tubs or any other containers, use those. Always try to use what you already have before buying something new. The most sustainable item is the one you didn’t buy!
Happy Plastic Free July! I would love to hear if you’re taking part. What swaps have you made so far? What is the hardest thing for you to find plastic free? Let me know in the comments below