Although plastic only became widely-used for everyday products in the 1960s, it’s estimated that half of all plastics ever manufactured have been made in the last 15 years!
Today, our oceans and rivers are filled with plastic garbage, microplastics are harming marine life, and plastic continues to be produced in environmentally harmful and toxic ways. It’s safe to say that the overuse of plastic is horrible for the planet and its inhabitants!
While Plastic Free July is a great movement to raise awareness on the environmental impact of plastic, why not go one step further by lessening our single-use plastic footprint all year around?
Here are 10 habits you can change right now to reduce single-use plastic waste!
Stop buying bottled water, soda, and juice
Avoiding bottled water is one of the easiest things you can do. Simply invest in a durable, reusable water bottle and bring it everywhere!
You might as well avoid bottled sodas, drinks, and juices, too. Skipping a bottled drink with your takeout order is both healthier for you and the planet! If you really love soda, you can invest in a SodaStream or buy canned drinks, which are often easier to recycle. If you prefer juice, try making your own at home, or buy glass-bottled juice.
Bring reusable utensils everywhere you go
To avoid the waste of plastic utensils and straws, make a habit of bringing your own reusable utensils! Take it up a notch by bringing your own reusable containers for leftovers, since most restaurants use styrofoam or plastic containers.
Bring a reusable travel mug
Can’t live without coffee or a good cup of tea? Time to replace disposable to-go cups with a reusable travel mug! Most cafes allow and even encourage customers to bring their own mugs. Just make sure to call ahead, since shop policies can change according to the pandemic.
Buy food without plastic packaging whenever possible
So much of our food is packaged in plastic and we hardly ever think about it! Whenever possible, bring your own reusable produce bags and buy fresh. Hit up local bakeries, cheese shops, and farmers markets, since they tend to use less plastic packaging.
(pictured is a 10 pack option netzerocompany.com. Even better, shop at your local eco store!)
Buy in bulk when you can
Bulk stores are amazing for reducing waste. You can often bring your own containers to reduce your plastic waste even more! Bulk stores also carry things beyond food, such as household cleaning supplies and bath and beauty products.
Switch from tea bags to loose leaf tea
Tea bags might seem harmless, but think about all the paper and plastic packaging that comes with a box of individually packaged tea bags! If you’re an avid tea drinker, invest in a sturdy steeper or two and switch to loose-leaf tea instead. David’s Tea is a great place to start.
Always have reusable shopping bags on hand
Plastic bags are the worst. It can be a hard habit to quit because they’re so easily available and practically free – 10 cents won’t stop most people! Plan ahead and make a habit of bringing reusable bags with you. Keep one in every purse and a few in your car. You don’t even need to buy new ones! Reuse what you have at home, or use old plastic bags until they fall apart.
Swap out dish sponges for plastic-free alternatives
Most dish sponges are made of plastic, and we go through them pretty often! Luckily there are many plastic-free alternatives to regular sponges, and most of them are reusable and kinder to the environment.
Switch from disposable razors to safety razors (or try sugaring)
The average person who shaves daily or near-daily can go through 40-50 disposable razors a year! Since plastic razors can’t be recycled, it makes sense to switch to a safety razor with replaceable stainless steel blades. You can also explore sugaring as an at-home (or salon) hair removal option, since it’s made of only lemon, sugar, and water, and doesn’t need any disposable accessories, unlike waxing.
Get creative with eco-friendly gift-wrap alternatives
Life is full of joyous occasions, and a lot of them involve gift wrap! From birthdays to holidays, there are a lot of ways you can avoid waste when giving gifts. You can reuse wrapping paper and gift bags, or use fabric wrap, old magazines and newspapers, cut up paper bags, or even send e-gift cards.
As you can see, there are so many things in our daily lives that involve plastic that we barely even think about. These are only 10 small changes you can try to reduce single-use plastic waste, but we bet you can come up with even more!We hope these tips will help you make the most of Plastic Free July – and beyond. For more plastic-free swaps, check out our previous post!