Plastic Free July – Don’t Overthink it
a great way to start is by not using these ⬆
8 minute Read
Plastic Free July is upon us!
And if you’re not familiar with Plastic Free July: it’s a challenge to refuse single-use plastic during the month of July. You can pledge to do it for 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, or FOR-EV-ER! The goal is to encourage people to evaluate their use of plastic in everyday life.
If you’re anything like me (or if you’re even human!), any sort of challenge or pledge can feel overwhelming at first. Here’s how it plays out in my head:
“Plastic Free July? For the whole month? But I’m already doing so much to be conscious about plastic? I try to avoid disposable cups, straws, utensils, bags, etc. And now I need to do more? This sounds like a lot of work! I’m not sure I can do this.” But after I emerge from that fear spiral, I start to regroup: “OK. What’s one thing I can tackle that would make this doable? If I can do just one thing, then maybe it won’t be so hard. OK. Where can I improve on what I’m already doing?” And then, the answer reveals itself where all reasonable, fruitful and enjoyable answers emerge . . . FOOD! And what’s the winning ticket number? Drumroll please . . . SNACKS!
Wait, WTF is this girl talking about? What does Plastic Free July have to do with snacks? Just stay with me here . . . I promise this will make sense . . . eventually . . . 😉
Here’s the deal: snacks are predominantly packaged in non-recyclable wrappers and bags. Even with my existing efforts to reduce plastic, I struggle with snacks because most of them are freakin wrapped in plastic! So for the month of July, I’m going to stay away from snacks packaged in plastic. I will stick to options that are package free, like fruits and veggies (boorrrring, I know), or ones that I can get from bulk bins, like trail mix with chocolate, nuts, and Dylan’s Candy Bar!
And speaking of chocolate, I just realized that I can still munch on some of my chocolatey-favorites since they’re usually wrapped in paper or foil. Winnnnn! Below is my favorite chocolate. Its locally made in Brooklyn and hand wrapped in foil and paper. P.S. Did I mention it’s vegan? Oh yeah . . . there’s no dairy in these puppies. Double Win! If you’re a chocolate lover, go get some now so you can taste the sweet nectar of the gods. And by the way, I am in no way being compensated for saying this. This chocolate is just so amazing; you’d be a fool not to try it.
OK. Let’s return from this chocolate tangent.
No snacks wrapped in plastic. That sounds doable. However, I’m going to leave a little room for sticky situations. I’m traveling for 3 weeks in July, and I’m including a clause that allows me to buy snacks if I’m on the verge of a hangry explosion, or if its my only chance for survival . . . like being stuck in an airport or on a long-ass train ride.
I will do my best to avoid these situations by thinking ahead, getting creative in the kitchen, and preparing snacks before leaving the house, but I also want to leave room for self-compassion, and be ok with the fact that I won’t have control over every situation that I’m in, especially when traveling in a foreign country. But who knows, maybe this will create a habit that will be sustainable in the long run. I’ve heard that if you do anything for 21 days, it creates a habit, so let’s rock and roll!
I accept the Plastic Free July Challenge by pledging to avoid snacks that come in plastic packaging. And I promise to be kind to myself if a situation is simply out of my control. I’ve found that when trying to reduce your environmental footprint, the best way to stay positive is to:
focus on what’s in your control and leave the rest at bay
And now that I’ve rambled on about chocolate, snacks, and trail mix (hmmmm . . . am I hungry right now?), it’s time to turn the tables. I wanna hear from you! What’s one thing that you can do to participate in Plastic Free July? Remember, you can do it for a day, a week, or all month long. To get the cogs turning, I’m gonna leave you with some ideas to think about:
Here are 10 Ways to Kick Plastic’s Butt During Plastic Free July:
1. When Ordering Seamless:
At the Seamless checkout page, check off the box that says “Spare me the napkins and plasticware. I’m trying to save the earth.” The restaurant will exclude any extraneous packaging and utensils from your order (Seamless). I have done this in the past and the restaurants don’t always pay attention to the request, but sometimes they do so it’s worth the click.
2. When Grabbing some Grub:
Say no to single-use plastic utensils and bags when getting food on the go. Instead, opt for reusable options that you can easily keep in your bag or car. I know this takes some forethought, but once you get into the habit of doing it, it becomes second nature.
3. When Munching at Work:
Store a plate, cup, mug, and utensils in your desk at work (here are a bunch of great options). This will help you to avoid single-use items when your office whips out a lunch spread that you’ll no-doubt be grateful for. **At my old job, there were always vendors bringing in food to try to sway you to sell their brand. Although I was happy for the free food, it drove me crazy how much waste it created in terms of plastic utensils and plates, and of course food waste.
4. When Getting your Caffeine Fix:
Start using a reusable coffee tumbler instead of getting your coffee in a to-go cup (did you know those bastards are lined with plastic?)
5. When Running Your Business:
If you own a brick-and-mortar or e-commerce store, pack all deliveries with plastic-free packaging, such as paper fillers and compostable packing peanuts.
6. When Spending Your Hard Earned Cash:
Carry a reusable bag when you’re shopping or at the grocery to avoid single-use plastic bags. You can keep one in your handbag or backpack, and when you reach for your wallet, you’ll get that visual reminder to bust out your badass reusable bag.
7. When on Your Period:
Try using a menstrual cup, cloth pad, or period panty for just 1 day of your period. Who knows, maybe you’ll like it 😉
8. When Packing Your Lunch:
Instead of using single-use ziplocs, opt for reusable containers and bags when storing your food.
9. When Staying Hydrated:
Instead of reaching for drinks such as gatorade or bottled water, opt for a reusable water bottle to avoid those single-use plastics.
10. Be Bold. Go Strawless:
Now that I’ve got you thinking, are you ready to take the pledge for a Plastic Free July?
And How About a Plan B?
If eliminating plastic seems totally undoable based on the resources available to you or your life circumstances, then maybe you make a pledge to recycle all of the plastics you use. We can call this Junior Varsity Plastic Free July. Terracycle is a recycling company that’s making a lot of headway when it comes to hard-to-recycle items. They have several free recycling programs, but also offer Zero Waste Boxes, which allow you to properly dispose of and recycle items that usually don’t get recycled.
By purchasing their ‘Candy and Snack Wrapper‘ Box or their ‘All-in-One‘ Box, you could prevent those items from going to the landfill. Now, I’m gonna be totally upfront with you. These boxes are pricey. They start at about 50 bucks, but if price is a non-issue, then this is the easiest way to make a difference. Of course, avoiding waste should be the number one priority, but if that’s not a possibility, then proper disposal/recycling is the next best thing.
If you’re interested in checking out some of Terracycle’s Zero Waste Boxes, here are a few links based on common household waste:
- Candy & Snack Wrapper Box
- Bathroom Box
- Personal Care & Beauty Box
- Alkaline Battery Box
- Plastic Packaging Box
- Cleaning Supplies Box
- E-Waste Box (electronics, etc)
I hope this was helpful. Leave a comment below if you’re up for the Plastic Free July Challenge! We can support each other throughout the journey 🙂
And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to: