This month I’m joining the challenge to refuse single-use plastic.
I’m pledging myself to Plastic Free July!
I’m excited to take this opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone and start abandoning single-use plastic in more areas of my life.
I won’t harp on about how much I hate single-use plastic (hint: it’s a lot), but I just want to quickly share some facts with you.
- Over the last 10 years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
- 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away.
- We currently only recover (recycle) 5% of the plastics we produce.
- Plastics account for approximately 10% of the waste we generate.
- 1 million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.
- Virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form (with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated).
Because of these facts, I am trying my best to kick that plastic habit, and I just wanted to share the main ways I am doing so in my everyday life. These are things everyone can do very easily! So, here we go…
1. Bring the bag!
I am a crazy bag lady when it comes to reusable shopping bags. I have a ton of them and I just keep acquiring more, and I’m totally ok with that. I keep a few in my car, my desk at work, my kitchen, my laundry room, and I keep some in my purse at all times! I have several packable bags (like this) to store in my purse, they don’t take up much space in the average sized purse as you can see here, and they’re so convenient to have! I always plan ahead for my grocery runs, but if I just happen to stop into the store or make a spontaneous trip to the grocery for something, I always have a bag with me!
Americans use more than 380 billion plastic bags and wraps each year. It takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce this many bags. Since plastic bags are petroleum based, they do not biodegrade. On average, the plastic grocery bag has a usefulness of 7 minutes, but an eternal lifespan. Isn’t that ridiculous? Sea turtles and other marine creatures often mistake plastics and other garbage as food and ingest it. This mistake causes blockages within their digestive system and eventual death.
Simply remembering to bring your own bags to the grocery store is an amazing way you can effectively cut down your plastic waste footprint! It took me a while to get the habit going, but once I did it became second nature!
2. Shop for beauty products with minimal (or reusable) packaging!
Think about the beauty products in your daily routine. There’s shampoo, conditioner, maybe some mousse/gel or hairspray, lotion, facial moisturizer, face wash, body wash, and the list can go on and on and on…
I started shopping at Lush when I was 14 years old. I had to wait until I had a reason go into the city in London to make a Lush run, where I’d stock up on my favorite products. At this point, I just loved their products because they all smelled amazing. But more recently I’ve come to appreciate Lush for different reasons. Beyond the obvious no animal testing and all natural ingredients, I love their commitment to the environment. 35% of their products come unpackaged. And many more of their products allow you to keep the “pots” (AKA containers) to trade them in for a free face mask! That way they can keep reusing the pots for future products! So cool!
I am committing to use a shampoo bar (Karma Komba is my fave, and I’ll list my other respective faves here as well for y’all) in place of purchasing plastic bottles of shampoo. I use bar soap instead of plastic bottled body wash. And although they come in plastic containers, I will use their facial scrub (Ocean Salt), makeup remover (Ultrabland), face wash (Herbalism), lotion (Charity Pot is my fave AND it also supports local non-profits with amazing causes!), and facial moisturizer (Skin’s Shangri La). I will continue to use these products because I know these containers will be reused in the future!
3. Ditch the dryer sheets!
I didn’t grow up using dryer sheets. It was actually Matt who introduced me to those magic sheets that make your clothes smell good AND remove that pesky static. But recently I thought about how wasteful they are. They’re made of polyester and they’re single-use. And then those sheets are also covered in different kinds of chemicals, of which I’ve heard some scary things.
So what’s a safe alternative? Wool balls. They are all natural, chemical free, and most importantly, reusable. They last for thousands of loads, get rid of static cling, soften clothes, and they save time and energy by cutting down drying time on your loads! Plus, if you’re really just wanting that fresh smell from the dryer sheets, you can still get that from wool balls simply by dropping a few drops of your favorite scent of essential oils onto them! I use lavender, and it’s amazing.
I got mine recently with my first Mighty Fix (more on that later), but I’ve seen them before in stores!
4. Say no to the straw!
More than 500 million straws are thrown away each day in the U.S. That’s enough to circle the Earth 2.5 times. That number of straws weighs the same as 1,000 cars. And when you think about it, that is an insanely massive amount of plastic to get thrown in landfills on a daily basis. Then there’s the issue of these straws getting blown and washed into our oceans and rivers, where animals mistake them for food.
So, the next time you’re at a restaurant tell your server to hold the straw. I’ve developed the habit of saying “Water with no straw please” when ordering my drink.
But if you can’t live without the straw, bring your own reusable stainless steel straws or use paper straws! I purchased these stainless steel straws on Amazon, and they’re great! They came in pack of four, and I keep one in my purse (in a little straw sleeve, don’t worry!), one in my desk, and two at home.
Life without the plastic straw may be a little “inconvenient” to some, but it is so worth it.
5. Provide your own take-out container!
I’m also going styrofoam-free this month! I encounter styrofoam the most in the form of takeout boxes. I often receive plastic ones as well, so yeah, just all around bad.
From now on, I will keep reusable containers for my leftovers in my car and in my desk at work. I will go out to eat prepared for leftovers and armed with my reusable containers!
I found this cute little ceramic bowl at Marshall’s a few years ago. I have been using it for leftovers at home, so I figured I’d take it on a little adventure and start bringing it out with me. I will always use my Pyrex glass bowl containers as well.
Again, this is just another good habit I have to develop. It’s not that hard, it will just take a little work to remember. I know there will be times when I may forget my reusable container in my car, and I may have to walk out to my car and back to store my food. But if that happens, I know I’ll learn my lesson and try harder to remember in the future. I hope that soon enough remembering to bring my container will be second nature to me!
Along with this, I will not buy coffee or my favorite bubble tea unless they let me use my own reusable cup.
6. Invest in a reusable water bottle!
Don’t even get me started on single-use plastic water bottles. Ugh.
Just invest in a good reusable water bottle, y’all. I have a collection of bottles that I looooove. I have stainless steel S’well ones, Nalgenes, CamelBak bottles, you name it I got it. It’s an obsession. And yes, they’re all covered in stickers.
I drink so much water every day, and if I were to drink that much in single-use water bottles it would just be an insane amount of plastic waste.
Plus, bottled water is not any cleaner or healthier than tap water, despite what that industry may claim. And bottled water can cost up to 500 times the cost of tap water. Y’all. That’s just craziness.
I don’t really fill mine up with tap water since at home I have a fridge with a filtered water dispenser and at work, I have access to a filtered dispenser as well. But I always have my bottle with me and I take advantage of every opportunity to fill up. If I’m eating out, I fill my bottle before I leave (either at the soda dispenser or with the leftover water in my cup). And more and more I’m seeing those nifty water fountains that allow you to stick your bottle under the sensor to fill up. These bottles are so convenient!
7. Eliminate plastic ziptops and produce bags!
Last year during Plastic Free July I used the challenge as a way to make myself do better in this area. I was always forgetting my produce bags at home when I went to the grocery store.
I have these nifty mesh produce bags on Amazon and I love them. I would recommend buying at least two packs of them though. Because sometimes you buy apples and will want to keep your apples in the mesh bags in your fridge. But then you go to the grocery store and won’t have any mesh bags because they’re all occupied storing fruits and veggies back at home. So yeah, the more the better.
I got my reusable sandwich bags for free from a conference I went to for work, but there are lots of super cute similar options on Amazon as well!
7. Skip the plastic cutlery.
When you go out to eat at a place that doesn’t offer metal utensils, it’s nice to have reusable utensils like these!
I received mine as a part of my MightyFix subscription. They come in a super convenient little carrying case, in which you can also carry your reusable straw. I always have these utensils in my purse, since they take up such little space and I can’t tell you how many times they’ve come in handy!
Alternately, you could just bundle a fork and spoon from home in a napkin or makeshift case. Or use a camping fork/spoon combo, like this. There are lots of ways to make it work, but I personally love my bamboo utensils and highly recommend them!
Along with these everyday actions, I’m going the extra mile this month. While I’ve eliminated stuff like single-use bags, bottles, straws, and such from my life. I do find myself slacking in other areas of my consumer habits. So this month, I’m going to forsake my “single-use convenience guilty pleasures” such as Chickfila salads, yogurt (I usually buy in large quantities, but it still comes in a plastic tub so I’ll only purchase yogurt in glass), and hairspray (I’ll try to DIY a plastic free option, pray for me y’all).
These are some big lifestyle habits that I have adopted in the past few years. Every now and then I will forget or get lazy, but I am committing to a July free of single-use plastics. I know it won’t be easy, but I am up for the challenge!
I mentioned Mighty Fix earlier, and I just wanted to let y’all know the deal on that really fast before I close this post out. Mighty Fix is a super nifty subscription service that makes healthy, green living easy! For $10 a month, they’ll send you one product every month that will help you move towards a more sustainable lifestyle! I actually received those wool dryer balls as my first Mighty Fix! I can’t wait to see what I else I receive in the coming months!
Try the MightyFix for only $3 with promo code DRYERFIX2018 and get three Dryer Balls as your first month or get two sheets of Bee’s Wrap for your first month with promo code BEESFIX2018.
Happy Earth-responsible wanderlusting, friends!