Plastic-free July is upon us, and we couldn’t be more excited to share these 13 tips to reduce waste this summer with you. We’ll look at some key ways to get your plastic consumption down but also throw in some other awesome ideas for waste reduction in general over the summer period.
Plastic Free July is one of our favourite initiatives. It was established to motivate people to reduce single-use plastic in their daily lives. A report released in 2019 estimated that the 250 million people who participated in Plastic Free July that year managed to reduce 825 million kg of plastic waste. That’s an astonishing amount.
So how do we do our bit to contribute to this? We’ll never tell you it’s about doing everything perfectly. Instead, it’s about everyone acting together, imperfectly, which is going to bring about monumental change. Let’s look at these 13 tips.
1. Bathroom Tricks
If you’re sustainably minded, you’ve probably been served ads for bamboo toothbrushes on your social media accounts. If not...the day is coming. Why not switch out your plastic toothbrush for one of these naturally antimicrobial and biodegradable options? Personally, we love how they look too. You can find all different coloured bristles so the family can distinguish whos is whos in the lineup.
Another easy switch (which actually saves you money in the long run too) is to swap out your disposable razors for reusable ones instead. You can pair them up with eco-friendly shaving soap, giving you a smooth, efficient, effective finish..
Home projects sky-rocketed in the early phases of the pandemic. Everybody jumped on the arts and crafts bandwagon and discovered how much fun it could be. For your next project, why not try making yourself some toiletries such as natural deodorants, hair masks, body lotions, hand soap, toothpaste, and hair wash? It’s great fun and can be done with the kids as an afternoon activity.
2. Cloth Handkerchiefs
You could use a good old-fashioned handkerchief instead of using tissue paper for your children’s sneezes. Handkerchiefs have gotten a bad rep over the years, but they are much less messy than advertised and using them instead of paper tissues has a massive impact on the environment. Need more convincing? They are also much better for the skin and don’t contain chemicals often found in paper tissues.
3. Cut down your shower time
This might be one of our easiest tips to implement - it’s really not hard at all and something you can work at improving with each shower. A top tip would be to start by setting yourself an alarm for 5-7 minutes in the beginning until you get used to taking shorter showers.
4. Reusable Bags
We definitely don’t need plastic bags to store our produce. Mesh bags and cloth bags are getting more and more popular because they are light and easy to carry around. It makes swapping to them a no-brainer.
You could also use reusable cloth bags for your kid's snacks instead of plastic ziplock bags. Ensure you get the ones with a waterproof, BPA-free liner.
5. Buy in Bulk
When you can, take small cloth bags with you (to avoid plastic ones) and later transfer your products to a glass jar. This is great for things like nuts, seeds, cereal, etc.
Bulk buying out of packet items will save you money too, as prepackaged products are always more expensive - even in bulk.
6. Biodegradable Cleaning Products and Detergents
Cleaning product packaging is an obvious way to make a change by picking products with recycled packaging or avoiding using plastic.
Another way to reduce waste here is to look at the ingredients your cleaning products are made from. Most cleaning products have an extensive list of harsh chemicals that can pollute rivers and groundwater and have numerous impacts on your and your family's health.
So, when buying your cleaning products, make sure to check the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for their ratings - they have a handy app to make this possible on the go. All AspenClean Natural Cleaning products are rated with A’s by the EWG, and most of them are EWG Verified.
7. Cloth Napkins
Bring the fancy dinner guest in you out to play every day. Cloth napkins aren’t just for fine dining; you can carry small ones around with you and have larger ones at home to avoid using (and buying) paper napkins.
8. Start Composting
I know a few people have been skeptical about having a compost bag in their kitchen because of the potential smells… try putting it in the freezer. This is a life hack I found a few years ago - not only does it prevent odours while you fill-up the biodegradable bag, but it’s hidden from your kitchen view on a day-to-day basis.
9. Wear a reusable cloth mask
Love them or hate, masks are part of our everyday lives, but sadly, the increased use has negatively impacted the amount of plastic in our waste streams.
Some places in society need to have single-use masks - for example, in hospitals. However, most of us can absolutely use cloth masks and just wash them on a regular basis - don't forget to use natural laundry detergent for that.
If you’re not using cloth masks at the moment, you’ll be able to find them in most supermarkets but also in a lot of fashion brand stores if you’d like something more stylish.
10. Know what's recyclable in your area
It might seem like buying products with ‘recyclable’ written on the label is a great move. It’s a step in the right direction for sure, but sometimes we need to go a step further.
Depending on your area, the local council/government might not have the facilities to recycle everything thrown their way. For example, if you have plastic film or a plastic box, most places would do better with the plastic box coming to them as more recycling centers are equipped to process those kinds of plastics.
11. Buying Local
Buying locally reduces the amount of plastic in your grocery shopping and, at the same time, reduces your carbon footprint because of reduced transportation needs associated with larger providers getting supplies out to many locations.
At the Butchers
When buying meat from the local butcher, take some beeswax wraps with you and ask them to use those instead of plastic. Most will be happy to oblige, and if you use the same local butcher each time, they’ll get used to you.
At the restaurants
The pandemic has increased the number of takeouts being ordered from local restaurants. Many of these restaurants will include plastic cutlery… ask yourself if you really need this. If you can use your own cutlery, say no to the single-use stuff and just let the restaurant know that they don’t need to include it in your order.
At the coffee shopWhen you’re getting your daily fix, consider taking a reusable coffee cup, it means you’re avoiding using disposable cups that go straight to the landfills. It might feel awkward at first, but you’ll get used to it, trust me.
12. Summer Treats
Plastic Free July is the perfect opportunity to mix up your ice cream delivery style. Switch out a disposable cup/bowl and plastic spoon for a cone, and make your own popsicles with reusable sticks.
13. Heat Reduction
Another type of waste we can reduce in the summer is heat. There are several ways you can reduce the amount of heat you and your family are emitting into the environment. For example, draw the blinds in the hottest part of the day to stop your house from warming up, turn off any lights or electrics you're not using, and switch to LED bulbs indoors because they use far less energy and emit up to half as much heat as a regular bulb.
So that’s 13 tips to reduce waste this summer to kick start your Plastic Free July. Remember, it’s not about doing everything all at once and perfectly; it’s about making positive changes in the right direction.
Finally, if you want to discover even more tips for a more sustainable lifestyle, don’t hesitate to check out our blog regularly.