Plastic-Free July (2020 Guide)
Plastic-free July is a global challenge that involves going plastic-free for the whole of July (no surprises there). It was founded in 2011 by the plastic-free foundation and in 2019 millions joined the challenge to give up plastic for an entire month.
2020 and July is here which means another month of plastic-free july, we hope you’ll join us and million others in going plastic-free for a whole month. But, before you taking on the daunting task of trying to boot your plastic habit for entire month check out this guide first and we will make sure you get the most out of this #plasticfreejuly.
Perform a plastic audit
A great place to start is an audit of your plastic habit, if you know the problem areas and where you consume most plastic you can plan ahead to tackle these areas and have the most impact in eliminating plastic at home.
To perform a plastic bin audit:
- Find a flat surface you can lay out your rubbish on
- Tip out your rubbish onto your sorting area
- Sort your rubbish into piles for example you could sort into categories for bathroom, food packaging, recyclable, soft plastic, cutlery.
- Estimate the amount of plastic in each category by weight or volume and note this down.
Once you have this information you can note easy areas of improvement: your most frequently disposed source of plastic is a great place to start.
Come up with a plan of how you’re going to reduce your waste in the areas required and then perform an audit every few months to ensure you’re making improvements where required and holding yourself accountable.
Reducing plastic consumption
Now that you’ve completed your plastic audit, its time to get started reducing your plastic consumption.
In this section we’ll cover the basics of reducing plastic waste. Our favourite method is to start room by room listing all the common plastic (or plastic packaging) items you consume and ranking them by the volume (use the information from your plastic audit to help).
For example if you’re a family of 4 you might find your most used plastic item is plastic manual plastic toothbrushes, you’ll want to rank these highly and prioritise finding an alternative for these.
Prioritising your high volume plastic items will mean that you can make the biggest difference in replacing these and gain momentum before having to make the more challenging changes
Once you’ve completed your audit and ranked your plastic waste, it's time to reduce your plastic, the hardest but most important step. Start with simple swaps, we’ve listed some of the top swaps below:
- Plastic water bottles for a reusable water bottle
- Plastic milk bottles for glass milk bottles, or give making our own plant based milk a go.
- Plastic bristled brushes for natural bristled brushes.
- Disposable coffee cups for a reusable coffee cup.
- Plastic cups for glass or paper cups if disposable are required.
- Plastic packaging associated with foods, swap for loose produce where you can or buy food is biodegradable packaging.
- Reusable plastic food containers for stainless steel tiffins or bamboo bento boxes.
- Clingfilm for beeswax wraps or tinfoil.
- Teabags (yes they sometimes contain plastic) for loose leaf tea.
- Plastics bowls, plates and cutlery for stainless steel cutlery and china crockery.
- Washing up liquid for a washing up soap block.
- Plastic straws for reusable straws.
- Plastic wrapped toiletries for soap bars, shampoo bars and body wash bars
- Disposable plastic razors for a reusable safety razor
- Plastic floss for biodegradable floss
- Plastic disposable toothbrushes for bamboo toothbrushes
- Plastic handled cotton buds for bamboo handled cotton buds
Out & about
- Plastic carrier bags for a reusable tote
- Disposable coffee cups for reusable coffee cups
- Chewing gum for mints or plastic-free gum
- Disposable plastic pens for a pencil or reusable fountain pen
- Say no to receipts as they’re coated in plastic or get an e-receipt.
Laundry & home
- Wash your synthetic clothing in a plastic microfibre catching bag
- Use detergent packaged in cardboard instead of plastic or try making your own.
- Plastic pegs for wooden pegs
- Swap polyester clothing for more sustainable alternatives
- Swap bleached unrecycled paper for recycled paper packaged plastic-free.
- Your plastic phone case can be swapped out for a biodegradable alternative like this from pela.
- Swap plastic disposable pens, rulers, protractors etc for metal or wooden alternatives.
What about plastic you’ve already got?
The temptation when going plastic-free is to “purge” all the plastic you’ve got, ie throwing all your plastic out. Make sure you don’t do this as you’re contributing to the plastic problem, for all its faults plastic lasts so make sure you make use of your common plastic items before throwing them away!
If your plastic items have served their purpose recycle them or turn them into ecobricks.
Hopefully this post will help you meet your goals in going plastic-free, don’t be disheartened if you can’t completely rid your plastic habit overnight. Going plastic-free is about making small sustainable changes which soon add up.
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