Plastic Free July is one of my favorite holidays/awareness months!
If you haven't heard of it, this is when we encourage everyone to say NO to single-use plastics as an introduction to a more sustainable lifestyle.
Disclaimer: None of us are perfect. Avoiding plastic all together can be difficult. It is okay to slip up every once in a while. The point is to become more aware of what your buying, what your products are packaged in, and how they were made. It's hard at first to remember all these things, but after a month it will become second nature and you are off to a lifestyle that leaves a smaller footprint! Yay!
A lot of times you will see me or other eco reps promoting special products from sustainable organization that were made in ethical ways. Don't get me wrong, these products are incredible but also sometimes not so affordable.
So, here are a couple of changes you make from the products you already own without spending any money!
Reusable Coffee Jar
This is perfect for hot or cold coffee, tea, or really any drink your tongue desires.
Just wash a spaghetti sauce jar (may take more than one wash to really remove the tomato smell. And, be sure to let it air dry without the lid). To get the label off, soak the jar overnight in a bowl/pot with soapy water. The paper should come right off - If there is still some sticky residue, take a razor blade and scrap it off.
There are some cute products that sell a fork, spoon, knife, and chopsticks in a perfectly packed little container, but when I was about to purchase one I realized that I already own reusable utensils in my kitchen! I already own a pack of reusable metal straws, so I just slid some chopsticks (if chopsticks aren't your thing, put whatever utensils you do need) and a spoon in there too for the full package. I can just rinse off or wash in a local bathroom after use.
Tupperware is your best friend
Keep some small-medium sized containers in your car, so that when you eat out, if you want to take something to go you can run and grab it without needing a Styrofoam box.
Grow your own veggies from your food scraps
I have already began to grow green onion (Super fast!), avocado, and potatoes!
When you regrow your food, you never have to buy those veggies again and you can avoid supporting the plastic packaging from the store.
Take a reusable bag to the grocery store (or ask for a paper bag)
This is one of the easiest but also most forgettable eco tip. I am always forgetting my reusable bags because after I bring my groceries inside, I don't take the bags back to my car. When this happens, it is OKAY! Just ask for paper bags instead. Then keep these bags and use them as wrapping paper!
Make your own cleaning products
There are so many out there that are so easy to make. I make my own magic carpet stain remover with only vinegar, water, salt, and dish soap. Just google homemade ___ to find an easy recipe for what you need. You can store these in old cleaner bottles, or in jars you've collected.
Swap chewing gum for mints
Did you know that chewing gum is made with plastic? The base for chewing gum is petroleum. This is why you shouldn't swallow it, and why it seems like chewing gum thrown on the ground or stuck to a pole stays there forever. There are natural chewing gum brands out there, but they are not quite the same texture. The easiest swap is mints!
Be aware of the packaging what you buy comes in
There is not always a perfect option, but when buying a product take into consideration what the package comes in and how it got to where your are buying it from. Use this guide to sustainable purchases to help you reducing your carbon footprint.
Before throwing something away, see if there is something you can do with it
The hardest part of Plastic Free July is changing the standard products you are used to buying because it is just what you have always done.
Be aware of the packaging and where it goes because there is no such thing as away.
Recycling is great but it is the last thing you want to do. Try to find a way to reuse your products. Click here to learn more about the 4 R's: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.