Written by: Allie Willison, Staff writer at Blueland
June 28, 2021
Plastic Free July is a challenge that started in 2011 and encourages participants to lessen their use of single-use plastics throughout the month of July.
Last year, around 326 million people worldwide participated in Plastic Free July and reduced their plastic waste by approximately 5% per household!
Interested in joining this year? We’ve got some key information to help you get started on your journey to reduce single-use plastics. But, we know that going completely plastic-free and reducing certain types of plastic isn’t realistic for everyone. So this year, while we celebrate plastic-free July and work to reduce single-use plastics, we also want to recognize some of the barriers to low-waste and plastic-free living.
How Do You Participate in Plastic Free July?
Start off by analyzing the amount of single-use plastic you dispose of daily.
If this is your first rodeo, challenge yourself to eliminate or reduce one major plastic item this month. Look at coffee cups, straws, water bottles, etc. then you can work your way up to eliminating 3-4 items and so on. Then onto trying to eliminate all plastic items for the month!
It is supposed to be a challenge so don’t sweat if you don’t get it perfect! The goal is to bring awareness and thought to how we consume single-use plastics, which will hopefully bleed into your life year round. Find more tips here.
Barriers to Plastic-Free Swaps
Going plastic-free or reducing single-use plastics does have barriers, and isn’t a solution for everyone. Not everyone can make plastic-free swaps, sometimes they are expensive or available in all communities. For some industries like health care, plastic is essential to keep patients and doctors safe and healthy. For some people, plastic items are essential for their living and well-being. Not all plastic is avoidable but if you are able to make a swap, we encourage it!
How to Make Plastic Free July More Cost Accessible
A big hurdle for saving plastic is cost. One of the main reasons plastic (especially single-use plastics) became such an integral part of our consumer culture is that it’s cheaper to produce than other materials.
Understandably, not everyone can replace all their zip-locks for silicone bags. If this is the case, reuse will be your best friend.
Here are some household items that most people have (or purchase for other means) that can be reused to save on plastic this July:
- Pasta/salsa jars: Save these jars and lids to easily wash them, peel the paper linings, and reuse them as food storage instead of new Tupperware.
- Ditch the plastic forks/cups/paper plates: Though they’re convenient-- even with that backyard BBQ-- opt for washable kitchenware.
- Take old t-shirts and use them for messes instead of paper towels: One, now you have a use for that shirt from your cousin’s 8th grade graduation that’s been collecting dust at the back of your closet. Two, you can pop them right in the wash and bing bang boom-- ready for whatever mess you can muster.
- Finding reusable totes or random bags for grocery shopping: You don’t have to invest in anything fancy! You can use any bag you have lying around and reuse plastic and paper grocery bags until they fall apart.
The spirit of the challenge is to do your best, finding ways to minimize plastic within your ability and life constraints can be hard, but worth the effort in the long run. As legislation and consumer culture shifts towards plastic reduction, swaps will become more and more accessible to all. Hopefully, plastic free items will be the norm.
Sign up to take the challenge officially here!