Can anyone believe it’s July? JULY. I’m pretty sure many of us, myself included, are still emotionally processing May, so I think we deserve a round of applause for making it this far.
This month, many people are challenging themselves to ditch single-use plastics. Plastic Free July was an initiative designed by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz (who is also founder of the Plastic Free Foundation) in 2011 as a solution to the plastic pollution crisis. The initiative quickly gained traction all over the world; now, a whopping 250 million people from 177 countries have participated in this challenge, reducing the amount of plastic waste going to landfills and developing sustainable habits that last long after the month is over.
Are you new to the Plastic Free Challenge? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with these 10 zero waste habits to get you started!
Bring your own mugs, cutlery, and containers for takeout.
Restaurants and cafes are notorious for using single-use plastics. Sadly, most of them aren’t stopping any time soon, so the onus is on us to bring our own stuff if we want to take our food and coffee to go.
Bring your own produce, grocery, and shopping bags.
Most people don’t think about where all their plastic bags end up once they’re discarded, but the reality is that they end up in landfills or the ocean…where they’ll stay for the next thousand years. In the ocean, plastic waste is especially devastating for marine animals; roughly 100,000 die from plastic consumption or strangulation each year. Easy, painless ways for humans to prevent this includes using reusable bags or shopping exclusively at zero waste grocery stores.
Say hello to beeswax wraps and goodbye to cling wrap.
Become best friends with the bulk section.
If you’re avoiding plastic-packaged foods, the bulk section is going to be your new best friend. You can easily bring your own jars and containers to fill them up and bring them home–no plastic bags needed.
Swap tampons and pads for a menstrual cup.
Save the environment and your wallet by switching to a menstrual cup for your monthly visit from Mother Nature. The great thing about menstrual cups is that they provide zero leakage and only need to be removed every 12 hours! But if sticking a little cup into your lady parts isn’t your thing (which is understandable), reusable cloth pads are also an option.
Give your bathroom and beauty routine a makeover.
Shampoo and conditioner bars, toothpaste tablets, bamboo toothbrushes, bar soap, and biodegradable floss are amazing zero waste options for your bathroom routine, and these products are typically made without harmful chemicals. When choosing skincare and cosmetics products, choose ones that don’t come in plastic containers. Or, if you’re especially crafty, try making your own at home!
Wash your clothes with baking soda instead of laundry detergent.
I promise you, this isn’t as weird as it sounds. My family started washing clothes with baking soda several months ago, and our laundry still comes out clean as ever. This method has my Asian mom’s stamp of approval, so you better believe it’s effective!
Thrift or swap clothes instead of purchasing them new (or online).
The fashion industry is the second-largest polluter after the fossil fuel industry. With the popularity of fast fashion, millions of pounds of textile waste get sent to landfills each year. Instead of being part of this wasteful trend, attend clothing swaps, and buy your clothes secondhand. If you must purchase new clothes, look for ones made of natural fibers instead of synthetic ones and order from companies that provide carbon-neutral shipping and eco-friendly packaging.
Repair your belongings instead of discarding them.
The plastic waste crisis stems from our throwaway culture, this notion that items are only meant to be used once or several times before throwing them away. In truth, most things can be repaired or repurposed, but unfortunately, we have been conditioned to replace anything we don’t want with the next shiny thing.
Reduce, Reuse, and Refuse.
Recycling isn’t the solution to the plastic waste problem (most plastics don’t even get recycled), so the aim should be to minimize our consumption instead. This can be difficult at times, as that means saying no to something we want. A plastic-free lifestyle can be incredibly difficult and near impossible to maintain in our current world, but we’re going to have to put in a conscious effort and make some sacrifices if we want to save the planet from becoming humanity’s garbage dump.
Do you have any other zero-waste methods you want to share? Drop us a line and let us know!