6 Ways to Cut Down on Plastic This July (And Hopefully Forever)

Some of you may or may not have heard of Plastic Free July, but the fact that you are here means you are even just a little bit interested in how you can reduce your plastic waste, and for that we thank you! The thought of not using ANY plastic for a whole month may seem impossible, and the sad part is that it pretty much is. However, the Plastic Free July movement didn’t start to make everyone be perfect and not contribute any waste, it is more about a community of people encouraging one another to do their best in hopes that they will then spread that knowledge and passion to others who will also cut out as much plastic as they can. We have 6 ways that you can cut plastic out of different areas of your life, and hopefully empower you to make even bigger strides in supporting a sustainable world.

What is Plastic Free July?

Choose to refuse single use plastic plastic free july
“Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be a part of the solution to plastic pollution - so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.” (https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/)

Plastic Free July grew from the Plastic Free Foundation which was founded by a woman named Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, and a small team in Western Australia. From its start in 2011 to where it is now, the Plastic Free July movement has won awards such as the 2018 Infinity Award: Avoid Recover Protect – Community Waste Award, and the 2018 Environmental Action Award, United Nations Association of Australia WA Division. Now over 250 million people in 177 countries participate in reducing single-use plastic in their homes, at work, school, and even local businesses.

Why Should I Participate?


Plastic is derived from fossil fuels, making the material a nonrenewable and unsustainable resource. The amount of energy and resources it takes to produce plastic are creating huge quantities of carbon emissions, and contributing to global warming.

On top of that, plastic is taking up space in our landfills, which are already reaching their limits, and plastic is not biodegradable. There are some states and companies that are working to downcycle it into new plastic (which is definitely helpful), but even with that, only 9 percent of plastic actually gets recycled. The rest of it just sits in the landfills emitting methane, or gets broken down by the sun and turned into microplastics which are contaminating our waters and being found in the stomachs of animals.

The worst part is, about 40% of the plastic waste found in the landfills is single-use plastic. Something you rip off an item, take your food out of, wash your hair with, and then just throw away. Things that can easily be swapped out for more eco-friendly options that you can use over and over again, and many times even be biodegradable and therefore not contribute to the waste sitting in our landfills.

Ways to Cut Down on Plastic Use

1. Preserve your meals in wax wrap or silicone bags.

Glass mason jars of food and spices
If you really think about it, plastic shrink wrap and saran wrap are unnecessary waste that you use for maybe a day, and then it sits in the landfill for decades. Glass jars and reusable tupperware are easy (and cheap) ways to preserve whatever you may need, and if you are looking for something more flexible, try out wax wrap and silicone bags. Green matters even put together how to make your wrap to save you even more money.

2. Wrap your gifts in newspaper or brown paper.

gift wrapped in brown paper with leaf sprig
Wrapping paper is another item that is often not recyclable, especially if it has tape or glitter, and it is usually shred to pieces in seconds. Instead, save your newspaper, paper bags, or brown paper that you often get in packages. You can also easily spruce it up with a sprig of evergreen or make it extra unique with drawing on it yourself. Keep it together with biodegradable tape or try washi tape, an adhesive option that’s made from natural fibers and can then be recycled with the brown paper

3. Refuse balloons and single-use party decorations.

balloons in the sky
While the dollar store and party store decorations are cheap and easy, it usually consists of items that only last that one event and are thrown away. Ask a friend or neighbor to borrow some decorations, or you can get fun bunting or banners made of paper or fabric, tissue pompoms, and tassels can be used over and over and make any party cute and classy. If you are extra creative you can even make your own from old fabric or scrap paper and save yourself even more money.

4. Get a permanent coffee filter and take your own mug.

white coffee mug surrounded by coffee grounds
Coffee is a must for many (including us). However plastic and styrofoam cups are a huge source of waste all over the world, and with all the pots of coffee constantly being brewed, filters are thrown out all the time. Reusable coffee filters are easy to clean, can fit almost any pot, and often outlive the appliance. Bring some mugs from home or have people chip in from the office for some thrift store mugs that can stay there.

5. Wash and clean with bars of soap

homemade bars of soap
Dish soap, body wash, laundry detergent, shampoo, and so many more items we generally need are usually packaged in plastic bottles. Making the switch to bars of soap can be an easy way to cut out those single-use plastics. They are a wide variety of types based on what you need, just double check the ingredients and make sure they do not contain palm oil. Look for local and small businesses companies that are creating their own eco-friendly options such as Eco Girl Shop. Eco Girls Shop is a female-owned low-waste company specializing in carefully selected earth-conscious products. They have plastic free options for every part of your home, plus with every purchase they plant a tree.

6. Join the challenge and share with your friends and family.

people all connected

By joining the Plastic Free July Challenge, you get to join the millions of others around the world and receive access to more resources and ideas to help you reduce single-use plastic in every aspect of your life. After you do that, meet us at our Wildlife Guardians Facebook page to join our community of support! We want to hear how your plastic free journey is going for you. What you find the hardest, easy hack and ways you have been able to remove plastic sources from your day to day, and everything in between. We are there to provide a community of conversation where we can all ask questions and share what we love. Join here.


Plastic Free July gives us the opportunity to challenge ourselves to do better on the individual level and see if the lifestyle changes are something we can commit to long term. It can be overwhelming to think about living completely plastic free, and when you look at the items in your home and what you purchase at the store you can not feel the best about what you are doing for the planet. But it is about progress, not perfection. You making a small change will collectively make a massive difference to our world. You can choose to refuse single-use plastics in July, and hopefully long after. Best of all, being part of Plastic Free July will help you to find great alternatives that can become new habits forever. (They say it only takes 28 days to create a habit!)

 

Good luck! And don't forget to join our Wildlife Guardians community on Facebook to share how it is going and comment below with ways you are reducing your single use plastic. 

1 comment

Aloha! This is such a wonderful posting/newsletter – thank you so much! My name is Lisa Jeffers-Fabro and I am not only one of your customers, but I am also the Plastic Free Hawaiʻi Program Manager at Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation. We celebrate Plastic Free July and are so happy to see that Wildlife Tree does too!! Our Wildlife Tree green sea turtles are always a “hit” with the children at our community outreach tables and classroom presentations. Mahalo for supporting Plastic Free July (every month is Plastic Free month) and for all you do!

Lisa Jeffers-Fabro July 27, 2020

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