Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.
It’s the key initiative of the Plastic Free Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit organisation established in 2017 in Western Australia, and is now one of the most influential environmental campaigns in the world. Millions of people across the globe take part every year, with many committing to reducing plastic pollution far beyond the month of July.
Ready to take the Plastic Free July challenge? See below a list of some of the actions that the official Plastic Free July website suggests to join millions of people reducing their plastic waste.
For many other ideas, read our blogs "15 tips to reduce your waste" or "10 easy ways to start your zero waste journey" and head over to the plastic free July official website.
1. Eliminate single-use takeaway cups, cutlery and take away containers
You can easily avoid takeaway coffee cups by bringing along your own reusable alternative with you, there are many reusable coffee cups available on the market, made of glass, ceramic or steel (we prefer the glass one).
Unfortunately take away coffee cups are not recyclable in most councils and even the ‘compostable’ cups are rarely composted as they require very specific facilities and conditions.
Bringing your own cup shows others how easy it is to reduce their waste and creates a new trend.
Pack a set of reusable cutlery to take with you. It doesn’t have to be a special set – just a regular knife and fork from your home wrapped in a cloth, will work. Or you can get lightweight bamboo cutlery, specifically designed to be taken with you.
Either way, remember to let the restaurant know when you are ordering that you won’t need cutlery.
Ask your favourite go-to for takeaway if they’ll let you bring your reusable take away container to avoid the common plastic take away alternative. Single-use cutlery and containers are used for a few minutes and then discarded to remain in the environment forever. Even compostable alternatives have their limitations and often need special composting facilities that are still rare in Australia. So many councils, will still dump them in the landfill, where they won’t degrade for a very long time.
2. Ditch single-use plastic dental products.
Switch for toothbrushes made from sustainable, compostable materials, such as bamboo. However, bristles are still made of plastic so you will have to cut them off before composting your toothbrush handle.
Purchasing a toothbrush with a replaceable head can also eliminate the need to continually purchase a new plastic brush every few months.
There are also on the market many plastic free toothpaste alternatives, such as toothpaste in paste, toothpaste powder and toothpaste tablets.
3. Swap plastic-packaged bathroom supplies for plastic free alternatives
Making the switch from plastic-packaged bathroom supplies to bars of soap is an easy way to reduce your waste.
You can shop different bar soaps to specifically suit body washing, face wash, shampoo, conditioner and shaving and you’ll soon have a colourful line up of bars in your bathroom that will make it smell amazing too!
You can also go one step further and check the ingredients of the soap to ensure they don’t contain any harsh chemicals (traces of which will remain in the water) or natural ingredients that are not sustainably sourced.
Choose bar soaps packed in cardboard which can be thrown in the compost once used.
4. Replace balloons and other single-use plastic party decorations
You can easily plan a party that’s free from balloons and other harmful single-use plastics and replace popular decorations with things like tissue pom poms, paper lanterns, fresh flowers, dry leaves as confetti and much more.
Be mindful that even latex “biodegradable” balloons can stay in the landfill for years.
Choose to use reusable dishware but if you go for the disposable one, choose an eco-alternative that is biodegradable and compostable.
You can also look into borrowing party decorations so that they can be reused by somebody else instead of being thrown away after few hours.
Some other ideas are:
• Choosing paper lolly bags and get treats like mixed nuts and dried fruit from bulk food stores. Place them in big bowls and let the kids fill their bags with their favourites.
• Make gifts of crayons, second-hand books, and homemade playdough.
• Refuse to use plastic water bottle and drinks bottle and prepare instead jugs filled with water and home-made juices.
• Go for paper straws or reusable ones made from metal, glass, or bamboo.
5. Make your pet eco-friendly too
You can do so by doing things like avoid using plastic bags to pick up dog poo.
You can use a pooper scooper and throw it in the compost (to avoid it ending up in the landfill) as it is or wrapped with newspaper. If you are out, there are on the market come compostable alternatives made of corn starch or mater-bi (like these ones)
Make sure to source pet food packed in paper bags that can be recycled or ask your butcher if they can fill your reusable containers with bones or meat treats.
You can then separate and freeze them on a tray first and then in a container and freeze until they’re needed.
To further reduce waste, you can also make your own pet food, make sure to consult your vet to make sure to follow the right diet for your pet.
Bird owners can decide to buy grains and seeds in bulk to avoid pre-packed food.
And for what concerns your cat litter, choose the recycled paper alternatives over those fancy crystals.
6. Choose loose leaf tea or plastic free tea bags
Plastics also contain chemicals that can leach into fluids at high temperatures, so avoiding tea bags made with plastic is better for your health.
Loose tea is obviously the best solution, but make sure to buy the one with no further plastic packaging inside or you can buy it in bulk from your local bulk food store.
If you still want to go for tea bags, makes sure to do a research on the internet for brands that don’t use plastic or staples for their bags.
Loose tea or plastic free tea bags are also a great alternative to give some flowers an extra boost.
7. Avoid pre-packaged meat, fish and deli products, particularly those sold on polystyrene trays
Consider shopping at your local butcher, fishmonger or deli-counter who can sell you unpacked items and remember to bring your own reusable container along when you go shopping.
If you want to take the next step, you can start supporting campaigns calling for single-use plastics (including polystyrene) to be banned.
Don’t forget to bring your reusable market and produce bags with you to shop for fruit and veggies too and always go for the ones offered loose and not prepacked.
8. Ditch long life cartons
Unfortunately, long life cartons, cannot be recycled and if you think of how many carton an average family goes through in one week only, you can imagine how changing this will have a huge impact on your overall waste.
Luckily, there are usually glass bottle alternatives to cartons of milk, stock, juices, and flavoured milk. Stock and juice can often be quite easily be made yourself at home (and with far less preservatives!).
Some people switch to using milk in powder form, packaged in metal tins or, if you prefer a vegan milk alternative, can also make your own nut milk by simply blending together some water and nut butter (we prefer almond butter!).
Few seconds and your milk is ready, far more eco-friendly and far cheaper than any carton alternative.
9. Choose not to use disposable nappies (or minimise your use of them)
Reusable nappies are obviously the best choice in terms of sustainability. Check if there’s a ‘nappy library’ close by where you can sign up to try different types of reusable nappies before or a nappy washing service near you.
By choosing reusable over disposable, you’ll save approximately 6000 nappies from landfill per child.
If reusable nappies are really not a thing for you, before choosing a ‘compostable’ or ‘biodegradable’ disposable nappies, consider that they will not biodegrade in landfill (and definitely not in your home compost) and so will need industrial composting to be sustainable.
A compromise to start reducing waste is to use both: the reusable nappies when you are at home or during the night and a limit the use of the disposable ones when you are going out.
You can also swap wipes (often not biodegradable) with washable cloths or wet some toilet paper that can be then flushed out without fears of blocking your sewerage system.
10. Join (or create) a group of like-minded people in your community
Finding your tribe can really help you to stay motivated to avoid single-use plastic. It’s a great way to share challenges and discuss ways that you can continue to grow your impact!
Have a chat with your family, friends and colleagues: you might find out that the people already in your life are ready to make changes to reduce their use of plastic and their waste.
Then you can also search for a group through your social medias, many communities already have established groups, that most likely would be happy to have another member on board.
Lastly, engage with your local government, shops, school or community groups to share solutions to reduce plastic waste and help shaping the world around you.