Happy #PlasticFreeJuly! This global campaign, started in 2011 by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz in Western Australia, is all about encouraging eco-warriors to go a full week, or the entire month of July, without using any single-use plastics. From sharing resources and alternatives to sustainable tips and tricks, EarthHero is proud to be a part of the Plastic Free July movement with our network of Earth Heroes – bringing awareness to the plastic pollution problem. This month, we wanted to dive into 5 things to consider when going plastic free, plus our plastic free tips… this July, and beyond!
Let’s dive in! Plus, join us in the Plastic Free July challenge by tagging #PlasticFreeJuly and @shopearthhero on social media, and share your progress reducing single-use plastics in our EarthHeroes Facebook group!
Let’s start simple. First, ask yourself, “what disposable items can I replace with reusable alternatives?” This is often what many people think of when they first step into the world of zero waste. Some easy ones include swapping single-use plastic water bottles for a reusable bottle, getting a reusable glass or metal straw, and using reusable food storage containers instead of plastic tupperware. You can even take it a step further and opt for reusable or compostable baggies instead of Ziploc, and in your bathroom, swap your plastic shampoo and conditioner for plastic-free shampoo and conditioner bars. From the kitchen, to the bathroom, to your daily on-the-go essentials, swapping anything that can only be used once for a long-lasting alternative will reduce a ton of single-use waste.
Next up, ask yourself: “what plastic items can I replace with bamboo, glass or metal things?” Now… we don’t mean go toss everything plastic you already own, as that wouldn’t be sustainable either! But as you need new, non single-use items in your life, consider how you can upgrade them from plastic options to more sustainable materials. Looking to get a new cutting board? Awesome. Grab a bamboo one instead! Need a new phone case? Grab a compostable one made from plants instead of plastic! While these go beyond just single-use status, they still can be upgraded from plastic to eco-materials.
Next up, packaging! Ask yourself: “can I replace items that I use that come in non-sustainable packaging?” Not only do the products we purchase matter – the packaging they come in has a huge impact as well. Many products come with tons of non-recyclable plastic packaging that is immediately removed and sent to our landfills. But there’s a better way! Ethical companies are finding compostable, biodegradable, and innovative eco-friendly ways to package their items with far less waste. When shopping in person, look for information on the packaging that indicates whether it’s compostable, biodegradable, or recyclable, and always choose materials like paper and cardboard over plastic. When shopping online, ask questions if you can’t find information about packing on the website. When going plastic free, you want to support companies that use sustainable packaging, both for the products themselves, and for shipping materials. Bonus tip: on EarthHero.com, scroll to the Sustainability Features on each product page, where both shipping and product packaging will be indicated!
Next: “what short-term items can I replace with high-quality, long-lasting ones?” Now, this may seem pretty similar to our first prompt about single-use items in your life. But this tip is different, since it involves more of a lifestyle shift than simply swapping a single-use straw for a reusable one. Think about things in your life you use often, but may not last long or have to be replaced and repurchased often. Some suggestions: start with items like tampons and pads, fast fashion clothing and accessories, plastic children’s toys, etc. You can save money over time by investing in high quality, durable alternatives to many products! Instead of spending money on tampons and pads every month, opt for a menstrual cup – a larger upfront investment that will save you over time. Instead of shopping fast fashion that will likely fall apart, invest in well-made clothing from ethical materials that can last you a lifetime! Your wallet – and the planet – will thank you!
Last but not least: “are there any products that I buy that I could make myself instead?” This is high-level eco-living, and there may be a bit of a learning curve – but DIY projects can be fun, save you money, and save the plastic, packaging, and waste that comes from purchasing certain products. Plus, you’ll be surprised to find how easy it is to make certain essentials! Hand sanitizer, room spray, cleaning spray, floor cleaner, face toner…. all of these things can be easily made with just a few basic ingredients you can buy from your local bulk store or go-to shop. Before you purchase something, do a quick Google search to see if you can make it yourself. Want to take your DIY to the next level? Make your own nut milk or learn how to sew and mend clothes! There is no shortage of awesome projects you can take on to reduce the amount of waste you make, while also having fun.
Plastic Free July is all about reducing single-use waste, but we encourage you to take the skills you learn this month, and apply them all year long! Sustainability is a life-long journey, and we all have so much to learn and implement. Ask your community for help, use online resources to your advantage, and keep up the effort! We’re all in this together. Share your #PlasticFreeJuly goals in the comments below!