I first heard about Plastic Free July last year when Brooke and Ben McAlary (from the Slow Home Podcast) did it as part of their ‘Slow Home Experiments’. Since then I’ve done a lot of reading on zero waste and plastic-free living and have implemented some changes into my life to start minimising the amount of waste I’m creating and the amount of single-use plastics I’m using.
(If you want to read more about why we should care about these things, check out my War On Waste recap post)
I’ve decided to sign up for Plastic Free July this year and try to reduce the amount of single-use plastic in my life.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, the aim for Plastic Free July is to refuse single use plastics. “Single-use” includes plastic shopping bags, plastic cups, straws, plastic packaging…basically anything that’s intended only to be used once and then discarded.
When you register, you can indicate what ‘level’ of refusing plastics you will commit to. You can focus on the ‘top 4’ which are plastic bags, plastic straws, takeaway coffee cups and plastic bottles. You can focus on avoiding single-use plastic packaging. Or you can opt to go completely plastic-free.
I’ve decided to tackle the ‘top 4’ as well as working on avoiding single-use plastic packaging. I’m going to do my best on the plastic packaging with the acknowledgement that I know some single-use plastics are unavoidable (for me) but I will do what I can to minimise them and make different choices where I can as a consumer.
If you’re interested in joining up too, you can go to PlasticFreeJuly.org and get all the info, but basically these are ‘the rules’ outlined on the website:
- Attempt to refuse single-use plastic during July.
- Remember it’s not going to be easy! It is a challenge, not a competition so don’t worry about being perfect.
- Collect any unavoidable single-use plastic you buy. Keep in a dilemma bag and share it with us at the end of the challenge.
- It’s up to you regarding how long you participate. You might decide to go plastic-free for a day, a week, a month or longer! However long you choose will still make a contribution.
I like the idea of keeping a ‘dilemma bag’. It will help me to identify where I can make changes in my life to reduce the amount of plastic coming into the house. It reminds me of the advice that a lot of zero waste blogs give when people don’t know where to start in reducing waste, which is to look at your bin and choose one product or one category of products to start looking at alternatives for.
I’m expecting that this will be easier in some areas than others, as I’ve already started to make some changes in my life to reduce plastic and waste in my life but I am fully expecting this to be difficult in some areas like the plastic packaging in some products I buy. I’ll try my best to find plastic-free alternatives for products wherever possible and potentially going without some products altogether.
Because I’m also doing a ‘buy nothing new’ experiment starting in July (more on that soon) I think it will be slightly easier than usual but still will be some tricky areas. I’m going to keep track of how I go and do a post towards the end of the month with the things I’ve found most challenging and the things I’ve learnt through participating in Plastic Free July.
Some of the barriers for people avoiding the ‘top 4’ are not having the right ‘tools’ to start with (although you could ideally reuse items you already own for bags and bottles) but if you’re looking for suitable alternatives for the ‘top 4’, I’ve got some suggestions for you.
To replace plastic bags:
To replace disposable coffee cups:
To replace plastic straws:
To replace plastic bottles:
Are you going to sign up for Plastic Free July?
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