Yesterday marked the start of this year’s Plastic Free July. But if you have not signed up for this yet, fear not, as it is not too late! You will find the link to do so a little further down.
But first, if you do not know what Plastic Free July is all about, here is what you need to know….
Plastic Free July was started in Perth Australia by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, she wanted to do something to tackle her own plastic use and got the rest of her office on board too, which is a great start right there! That first year there were 40 people who pledged to not use single use plastics for the whole of July.
They had fun taking this challenge and the word spread, and the next year 400 people signed up, It has grown at a crazy rate since then and last year 2 MILLION PEOPLE in 159 countries signed up to Plastic Free July. Amazing.
As a family and as a business we already try to be really aware of the waste we produce, especially the plastic. But it never hurts to be challenged to do better, so we have signed up and will be doing what we can to reduce our use of plastic still further. We are also using it as an opportunity to look at more products we can start stocking which will help everyone else to use few plastics, so we are really looking forward to the month ahead.
You can sign up to take part at www.plasticfreejuly.org
If you do not feel ready to go completely cold turkey on the plastic you can pledge at whatever level you are comfortable at. Whether that is just choosing to refuse plastic straws and bags or going for the whole shebang. Everything will help. They will send you hints, tips and encouragement throughout the month too, so you are not alone in this challenge!
To help get the ideas whirring though, here are some ways in which you may be able to use less plastic this month (and perhaps every month hereafter)
Single use Coffee Cups. Say no to single use coffee cups and get a reusable one to take with you instead.
These Ecoffee Cups are made from Bamboo, are sustainable, plastic free, biodegradable, naturally antibacterial and taint free. They also feel really nice to hold!
Shopping bags. Make sure you have your reusable shopping bags with you. These string or tote bags are a great alternative.
Sanitary wear. In every pack of sanitary towels, there is the same amount of plastic as in 4 carrier bags. In a lifetime a woman uses about 11,000 pads or tampons and it is estimated that 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4million sanitary towels are flushed down the toilet every DAY. This is having a devastating effect on our coastlines and marine environments. So swap them out (And NEVER flush them down the toilet). Natracare products contain no plastic, are compostable and free of nasties.
Mooncups are another brilliant option. Reusable, and last for years and years and years.
Shampoo. Ditch the shampoo bottle and try a shampoo bar instead. Last for ages, great for your hair and great for the environment too.
Soap and Shower Gel. Again. Ditch the bottle, switch to the bar!
Obviously one of the upshots of reducing your waste, is that you need fewer bin bags. Whilst it can be possible to stop using them altogether (you will find some great tips on how to do this at plasticfreejuly.org, or they will send you them when you sign up) but if you are not quite ready for that yet, at least make the switch to oxy-biodegradable plastic bags, that will completely degrade to air and water, leaving no residue behind.
If you are using baby wipes, make up removal/cleansing wipes, or kitchen/bathroom wipes then try switching to ones that are biodegradable. Most commercial ones are made of mostly plastic and will hang around for a loooong time after they have cleaned what they need to clean. They also cause big problems for the drains and the marine environment.
Is your toothbrush in need of renewing this month? Then try a swap to a bamboo toothbrush! Designed to last just as long as a plastic one, they are naturally antibacterial, you can get them infused with charcoal (natures whitener!) and when you are done with them you can use them in the garden or just bury it in the garden and it will be gone in a few months!
For cleaning products try switching some of them over to things that come in a box, like Citric acid, bicarbonate of soda and Borax substitute.
Also for things like food. If there is somewhere you can buy loose in bulk then go for it, you will just need some kilner jars or the like. Or find products that come in boxes rather than bags.
Obviously what you can do may be restricted by what is available in your area, But there are lots of lovely things available on Wikaniko to get you started (shamless plug!) and we are going to try and add more throughout the month so keep your eyes peeled!
Hopefully this has given you some ideas to get you started, there are loads more over at plasticfreejuly.org
Drop us a line if you are joining in with the challenge- to whatever degree- we would love to hear from you!