Each year millions of tonnes of plastic end up in landfill and pollute our oceans. It’s a growing problem and there has never been a better time to eliminate unnecessary plastic from our daily lives. Plastic Free July is global campaign which challenges people to see if they can reduce or eliminate their consumption of plastic for 31 days. In the spirit of this awesome initiative, here’s a few ways you too can give plastic the flick.

What if there was a better way to carry your groceries, sip on your favourite smoothie or brush your teeth? One that helped reduce your environmental impact.

Plastic is a big problem

Every plastic shopping bag, straw, container and bottle adds to this ever-growing issue of plastic pollution.

It’s the small, often unconscious, daily habits that add up to larger effects over time. How many of us go about our day without realising just how much plastic we are using? Sure, many of us have learned to pop our discarded plastic waste into recycling bins, however there is still a cost to produce these items, from an environmental perspective. These single-use-plastics are a huge cause for concern, to the tune of nearly 400 million tonnes of plastic made per year and 10 Billion tonnes created since plastic was originally introduced back in the 1950s. Think of all the energy and resources required to make that, how little of it is recycled (only around 10%) and where it all ends up – landfill, lakes, oceans, choking marine life and ruining natural ecosystems. There is even a little bit of plastic in you! That’s right – microplastics in drinking water are a real thing too. And every plastic shopping bag, straw, container and bottle adds to this ever-growing issue of plastic pollution.

So, what can be done to reverse the trend and start fixing the plastic problem?

Take the challenge

The first step is to be aware of our own daily plastic habits, and then seek viable alternatives. The good news is that there are plenty, and you don’t have to go it alone. Plastic Free July is a yearly challenge that looks to help people make the change and switch away from using wasteful plastic products. Launched by the Plastic Free Foundation (a non-profit charity) back in 2011, this initiative has continued to surge in popularity with an estimated 140 million people taking up the challenge in 2021.

Plastic Free July encourages participants to think about their own plastic use, with the idea of creating awareness and fostering positive behavioural habits. The team have also put together a plethora of resources to help you get started, including handy videos, links to plastic-free products and digital posters to help inspire you to keep up your good work. There are also campaigns you can get involved with for those wanting to go the extra step and help out in a bigger way.

To date Plastic Free July has resulted in a reduction of over 2 billion tonnes of plastic waste, along with a decline in global demand for plastic packaging, including straws (4%), bottled water (2.3%) and food packaging (3.1%)! This is an awesome trend, and speaks to the positive, changing behaviours of people. It goes to show that spreading awareness and providing support for people to make a change really can make a difference.

Join the millions around the world and take up the plastic free challenge, make a donation, or spread awareness of this important initiative and tell a friend about how they can help during #PlasticFreeJuly!

Here are some ways you can go plastic-free

In the spirit of Plastic Free July, we’ve put together a few handy tips on how you can reduce your reliance on single-use-plastics when out and about or at the home. Best of all these are simple, low effort and will help you save money (and the planet) in the long run!

Food shopping

Where possible, seek out bulk goods that don’t come in plastic containers. Most of the time you will be able to find larger packs of rice, grains or other staples that will come in a firm cardboard or sack container. By purchasing in bulk you not only use less materials (including plastic) but there is the added bonus of saving money too!

Buy fresh veggies if you can. Many organic stores will have ‘loose’ fruit and veggies, the ones that aren’t shrink wrapped in plastic with a polystyrene base. Organic produce prices are often comparable, if not identical (or less expensive) to traditional supermarket prices, but without the nasty chemicals or plastic containers. Get out to a farmer’s marker if possible and help to support local business as well.

Plastic bags are a known environmental scourge, so well known that we now have a day celebrating their non-use, International Plastic Bag Free Day on July 3rd. Re-usable tote bags are another great alternative, especially those that use sustainable materials, like hemp or organic cotton.

An organic cotton tote bag. Source: lariacreations.com

Eating & drinking

Plastic straws are gross, and many countries are outright banning them, along with plastic bags. Re-usable straws are an inexpensive and sustainable solution, with metal and bamboo options quite easy to find. Pack some next time you head out so you can say no to single-use straws and have one less piece of plastic floating in your drink.

Re-usable utensils, bottles and coffee cups are yet another great way to reduce your use of plastics each day. Most coffee houses are happy to refill a reusable cup and many will even offer a discount. Taking a reusable water bottle with you will also help keep you hydrated and healthy, whilst packing your own utensils means you will never be stuck having to use a plastic spork again!

Home & body

Speaking of putting plastic in your mouth, how about opting for bamboo toothbrushes? They are sturdy and hygienic, and honestly the natural wood tone does look a lot more visually appealing than the hyper-fluro colours that are present on most plastic brushes.

When it comes to home and body care, buying all those containers of bodywash, shampoo, various cleaners and sprays all adds up. Fortunately, there are companies that offer environmentally friendly solutions, in the form of recycled plastic bottles and refill packs so you can make sure your body, home and planet stay clean and beautiful.

A Modern Remedy may earn a commission from products or services listed on our site.

Stay in the loop

Subscribe to Limelight, our monthly newsletter packed with analysis, insights and resources to help you live a happier and healthier life.