July 1st kicks off Plastic Free July, which is a global movement that encourages people to be part of the solution to plastic pollution. Plastic Free July challenges participants to reduce their plastic waste by eliminating single use items from their daily lives and swapping them for reusables. The aim is to get people to become less reliant on single-use plastics in their day-to-day lives.
This award winning campaign was started by The Plastic Free Foundation in 2011 with the vision of becoming a world free of plastic waste. Around 326 million people contributed to Plastic Free July in 2020 and this resulted in a total saving of 940 million kg of plastic waste, a decrease in household waste and recycling by 21kg per person and 8.5 out of 10 people making changes that have now become daily habits.
For Plastic Free July this year, champions of the reuse movement, UYO NZ and Ethically Kate are leading the #nolovetolitter campaign. Boycotting single use items which means no liking, sharing or posting content that includes it. A very easy campaign to take part in as it requires no extra time, money or effort.
Things like using a reusable coffee cup instead of a takeaway cup and taking your own bags to the supermarket instead of using plastic bags are great ways to reduce your plastic waste. However, there are also many other things that can be done to help eliminate plastic. We have compiled some of our favourite Plastic Free July hacks, swaps and alternatives to help you make the most of the month.
Plastic hides in things we wouldn’t even realise contained plastic, things like period products and dental care. If you are a person that gets their period, switching to a menstrual cup or period undies, instead of using pads and tampons is a very impactful way to reduce your plastic use. In terms of dental care, toothbrushes made from compostable materials such as bamboo are becoming readily available in most supermarkets. You can also purchase toothbrushes with removable heads, which eliminates the need to buy a brand new toothbrush every other month. There are also recipes online to help you make your own toothpaste and if that's not up your alley, many health and organic stores sell plastic-free alternatives like this one from Ethically So.
Another great way to reduce your plastic use is to switch up your grocery shopping routine and go to a bulk food store. Everyday pantry items from grocery stores such as cereal, drinks and snacks are absolutely covered in plastic packaging. Taking reusable containers to bulk food stores means eliminating all of this plastic waste. These stores offer many things from flour to nuts to dishwashing liquid.
If you’re a tea lover, try switching to loose leaf tea instead of teabags, as many companies are still putting plastic in their teabags and packaging. If you don’t like loose leaf tea, try doing some research on which companies use plastic in their teabags, here's a helpful blog post to get you started.
Almost all households use plastic bin liners, and this can be pretty hard to avoid. Lining the bin with a few sheets of newspaper is a good alternative. Using no liner is also an option, just wash your bin out when needed.
Letting companies know you care about their plastic use is also an effective way to help reduce it. If enough people are voicing their concerns, companies will become more aware and make the switch. The ban on plastic bags came about predominantly from youth campaigning the government to make the change. The Government has also just announced a ban on some single use plastic which means our voices are being heard.