Have you heard about Plastic Free July? It’s a global initiative that aims to raise awareness of the growing plastic pollution crisis and inspire others to reduce their plastic footprint. The movement began in 2011 after Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, founder and executive director of the Plastic Free Foundation, visited a recycling facility and saw firsthand the enormous amount of household waste and the energy-intensive resources it took to process it.
While July might seem like an odd month to encourage people to go plastic-free, it actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Many of us are spending more time in the great outdoors — hanging out at beaches, parks and our favorite watering holes. These beloved hangout spots often become littered with bits of plastic that harm animals and possibly human health.
To mitigate the effects of plastic pollution, we should all take steps to implement changes that allow us to live in harmony with the planet. Here are a few ways you can celebrate Plastic Free July and make the world a cleaner place for the next generation.
1. Adopt A Low-Waste Haircare Routine
With a staggering 522 million shampoo bottles ending up in landfills yearly, your haircare routine does more damage to the planet than you probably think. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution that’s beneficial for Mother Earth and your tresses: lathering up with a plant-based shampoo bar. Compared to conventional liquid shampoos, these solid sudsers often come wrapped in compostable cardboard and contain a high concentration of nourishing ingredients to restore and revitalize dull, dehydrated strands. And if you want to knock yet another plastic bottle from your routine, you can pair your shampoo bar with a hydrating conditioner bar.
2. Invest In A Reusable Water Bottle
Bad news for bottled water lovers: There’s a good chance the bottled water you love to drink is nothing more than filtered municipal water. According to Water Purification Guide, nearly 64 percent of bottled water in the U.S. comes from municipal tap sources. Bummer, we know. Reusable water bottles will save you money over time and are generally easier on the planet to boot. Plus, they come in an array of stylish designs to showcase your personality and motivate you to stay hydrated.
3. Enjoy A Plastic-Free Picnic
Picnic season is here! Before you stock up on disposable cutlery and wet wipes, though, consider revamping your picnic style in honor of Plastic Free July. Invest in a nice set of reusable bamboo cutlery that you can use at your picnic and beyond (work, travel, etc.). Instead of disposable wipes, bring reusable napkins that make you feel fancy. And don’t even think about buying pre-cut fruits and vegetables in plastic containers! Instead, buy your fruit “naked” and cut them up yourself.
4. Stop Using Single-Use Bags
Americans use approximately 100 billion plastic bags a year, and manufacturing those bags requires about 12 million barrels of oil. Besides increasing fossil fuel consumption, plastic bags frequently end up in the environment where they harm local wildlife and leach toxic chemicals into the soil and air as they break down. Instead, buy a set of reusable shopping bags you can use for grocery and clothes shopping. You can further cut down on plastic wasteopting for reusable storage food bags made from food-grade silicone. They’re great for packing lunches and storing snacks!
5. Try A Plastic-Free Deodorant
Conventional deodorant is notoriously difficult to recycle, and most of us have been going through four to six sticks a year since puberty. Given this, it’s no surprise that the deodorant industry generates over 15 million pounds of plastic packaging waste annually.
Why not try a plastic-free deodorant in honor of Plastic Free July this year? Many smaller brands now offer natural deodorants that come in zero waste packaging made from recyclable and compostable paperboard, making them a healthier choice for your skin and the planet.
6. Host Or Participate In A Local Beach Cleanup
Visit any beach in the world and there’s a good chance you’ll find bits of plastic washing up everywhere. Not only is this plastic waste a complete eyesore for families who are trying to enjoy themselves at the beach, but it also poses a threat to wildlife. Many animals ingest plastic when they accidentally mistake it for a meal, causing them serious discomfort and even death. Large and heavy pieces of plastic waste can damage sensitive habits, including coral reefs.
Grab your friends and participate in a local beach cleanup together. July 5th is a particularly important day to clean up beaches, as many people celebrate the 4th of Julysetting off fireworks that end up as litter in coastal areas. (But really, any day is a good day to clean up a beach!)
7. Skip the Takeout
Challenge yourself to skip takeout and food delivery services for the entire month of July. These options, while convenient, are synonymous with single-use cutlery and plastic food containers. Instead, opt for in-person dining, which is generally less wasteful because you’re using reusable plates and cutlery. And if your waiter offers you a plastic straw, politely decline unless it’s strictly necessary (e.g., you have a disability and need a plastic straw to eat).
8. Get the Word out
Finally, let everyone know you’re making a serious effort to curb your individual plastic waste. The more people who know about Plastic Free July, the better! Talk about the plastic-free swaps you’ve made and use the hashtag #PlasticFreeJuly in your social media posts. Educate people on the importance of going plastic-free and how it benefits our wonderful little planet. Who knows? You may inspire others to join your plastic-free journey. At the very least, you’ll encourage a few folks to be more mindful of their family’s plastic footprint.
There you have it — a few ways you and your family can celebrate Plastic Free July. Don’t forget that you can also participatesigning up for the Plastic Free Challenge on the movement’s website. By signing up, you’ll get helpful tips and tricks for staying plastic-free through the entire month (and hopefully, long after!).