Americans use an average of 365 plastic bags per person each year, most of which end up in landfills or burned by incinerators.
Tons of plastic trash are also currently floating in the ocean, hurting marine ecosystems.
Hence, it’s only imperative that we, as conscious individuals living on this planet, must do something about plastic pollution.
Fortunately, reducing plastic waste doesn’t have to be hard, nor does it have to complicate your current lifestyle.
Below are some of the simplest ideas you can follow not just during Plastic Free July but throughout the year to bring your plastic use and waste to a minimum.
Let’s get started.
1. Get a reusable shopping bag
Right off the bat, you can significantly reduce the number of plastic bags you use by getting one of them reusable shopping bags.
Reusable bags are made with durable and eco-friendly materials like cloth so they can be washed and reused again.
And don’t worry because they aren’t hard to find and don’t cost an arm.
If you only take a minute to look, you will find plenty of stylish and affordable reusable shopping bags that are durable, waterproof, and eco-friendly.
2. Switch to plastic-free personal care products
While most of our traditional shampoo or deodorant brands come in plastic bottles, you can now choose a more eco-friendly route.
There are tons of eco-friendly personal product brands today that make plastic-free alternatives to essential personal and skincare products like shampoo, toothpaste, floss, deodorants, and more.
By making the switch to these eco-friendly personal care products, you can reduce your empty plastic bottles from shampoos, body wash, and other body care essentials.
3. Say no to disposable plastic toothbrushes
Toothbrushes are essential for protecting your teeth and maintaining healthy oral hygiene.
However, plastic toothbrushes are one of the leading causes of plastic pollution.
In the U.S. alone, a billion toothbrushes will be thrown each year.
In the case of plastic toothbrushes, those sent to landfills will stay there for the next hundreds of years.
And did you know that nearly every single plastic toothbrush made since the 1930s is still out there in the world somewhere, living on as a piece of trash?
Many are found in the ocean and shores!
So what should you do?
No, we are not telling you to stop brushing your teeth.
We do,however, recommend that you consider using a non plastic disposable toothbrush.
4. Say no to plastic makeup applicators
If you’re the type of person who likes using a disposable mascara wand, lip gloss brush, or eyeliner pen, then it’s time for you to say “no” on those items.
Most of these products are made from plastic and non-biodegradable materials.
Hence, they will end up taking space in landfills for a long time once they are discarded.
5. Sell unwanted plastic equipment to thrift shops
You probably own a few plastic items you no longer want but would still be useful to other people.
This is especially true for old play stations, cd, toys, sports gears, accessories, and others.
Instead of sending them to landfills, you can sell them online on sites like Craigslist or on your local thrift shops.
Doing this will not only reduce plastic waste but can also earn you a couple of bucks!
6. Avoid buying foods in plastic packaging
A lot of times, manufacturers use plastic for food packaging because it’s cheap and durable.
But if you’re conscious about your environmental impact and health, you should avoid these products as much as possible!
As you may already know, plastic can take hundreds of years to decompose, and it can also leak harmful substances (like BPA) into foods.
7. Buy in bulk whenever possible
Let’s face it, some products simply come with a plastic container and there’s nothing we can do about it.
However, buying in bulk can reduce the plastic packaging waste created when buying these kinds of products.
Shopping for supplies in bulk can also save you time and reduce consumption of gas from driving your car.
So even if you buy supplies from a supermarket that doesn’t offer any discount for buying in bulk…
This practice is still an excellent way to reduce your overall environmental impact.
8. Say no to plastic fast food takeout containers
Get a reusable food container and take it with you whenever you order food for take out.
This is a much more planet-friendly alternative to simply relying on using Styrofoam or plastic containers the fast food store provides.
The same reusable food container can then be used to store leftover foods or use them as lunchboxes.
Most eco-friendly reusable food containers are made with stainless steel and silicone.
9. Stop using plastic food wrappers
Another source of unnecessary plastic waste that can easily be avoided is the use of plastic food wrap or cling wraps.
This type of food packaging isn’t biodegradable and will take up space in landfills for a long time.
A much eco-friendly alternative would be to use reusable food containers when storing leftover food.
10. Say no to plastic produce bags
Some vendors will automatically wrap veggies and fruits you buy with a thin plastic bag.
The good thing is you can say “no” to that.
Those thin plastic bags have nothing else to go but in trash bins.
You can always carry produce easily by bringing along a reusable shopping bag instead.
11. Don’t use a plastic straw
We know you might have read this Plastic Free July tip countless times already, but here it goes:
Avoid using plastic straws.
Did you know that plastic straws are one of the most common pieces of plastic trash all over the world?
It’s fascinating how using plastic straws has become a norm when consuming drinks considering they weren’t invented until the 1900s.
It means the human civilization has survived thousands of years without ever needing a straw to consume various beverages.
So as much as possible, avoid using a plastic straw – you can survive it!
But if you really must, then get one of those reusable straws made with silicone or stainless steel and carry it with you.
This way, you won’t have to use plastic straws whenever you want a sip of your margarita or milk shake.
12. Say no to plastic dishware and cutlery
Many people think that a lot of plastics end up in landfills because they are disposable.
But, the truth is, even if you use reusable utensils as long as they are still made of plastic, it won’t make much difference.
Once you throw them away, they will still become plastic trash which will be sent to landfills or incinerators.
That’s why we recommend opting for more sustainable dishware and cutlery made with metal, bamboo, wood, silicone, or glass.
13. Get a reusable water bottle
How many times a week do you buy bottled water from stores?
What do you do with the empty water bottle?
If you recycle or repurpose them, then kudos to you!
Nevertheless, one of the simplest ways to avoid single-use plastics is to have a reusable water bottle.
You can either buy one (check out our recommended reusable water bottle) that is made with silicone or stainless steel.
Or, you can get free ones from your local supermarket that collects used plastic bottles and gives them out for free!
Either way, having your own reusable water bottle can cut down the plastic waste you create and help you save money as well!
14. Get a reusable coffee mug
Did you consider getting a reusable water bottle, how about getting a reusable coffee mug too?
If you frequent Starbucks and other takeout coffee shops, this is an excellent way to stop using those pesky disposable plastic coffee cups.
So the next time you hit your favorite coffee bar, you can use your own reusable coffee mug rather than getting a throwaway plastic one.
I bet other people in line would also want to get one for themselves too.
And in a way, you’re positively impacting society! (Yay you!)
15. Avoid products with microbeads in them
Microbeads are small, solid, manufactured plastic particles.
They are commonly found in personal care products as cleansers and exfoliants.
Unfortunately, most wastewater management systems aren’t equipped to filter or capture microbeads.
As a result, tons of microbeads eventually end up in rivers, lakes, and oceans.
Illinois, in 2014, became the first U.S. state to ban the manufacturing and sales of products that contain microbeads.
16. Buy plastic-free cleaning products
Many commercial cleaning products come in plastic containers and packaging.
However, keeping your home clean doesn’t have to cause harm to the planet.
The good thing is, there’s plenty of plastic-free and eco-friendly cleaning products that you can buy online or at the grocery stores near you.
17. Give non-plastic gifts and presents
Most average people give and receive gifts many times each year.
So one way you can help reduce plastic waste is by giving non-plastic gifts.
And no need to worry because there are tons of eco-friendly gifts you can buy that are made without plastic.
Alternatively, you can also buy upcycled gifts made with repurposed old items.
18. Buy products made from biodegradable materials
The thing to keep in mind on your journey to reduce plastic waste is whenever you are about to buy something made of plastic, ask yourself this:
Does this product come in a non-plastic variant?
Whenever possible, always prefer to buy products made without plastic.
19. Repair or repurpose broken plastic items
Whether it’s plastic toys, accessories, or sport gears, always find ways to repair or repurpose broken plastic items before throwing them away.
Many people today are getting used to throwing things away once they are broken, which is bad for the planet.
Besides, repairing or repurposing things will not only minimize the waste you send to landfills but can also save you money.
20. Recycle as much plastic trash as you can
Perhaps one of the best Plastic Free July tips we can share today is to join your local recycling program.
You can drop off plastic and recyclable trash in the bins they provide, thus, reducing the waste you send to landfills.
But make sure to check your local recycling program for plastic that is accepted.
21. Share this Plastic Free July tips to others
And the final way you can help reduce plastic waste is to share this article to your friends and family.
That way, more people will discover easy ways to reduce their plastic waste without complicating their lifestyle.
Final Thoughts on Plastic Free July Ideas
With these Plastic Free July ideas, we hope you can start making sustainable actions to help reduce plastic waste ending up in landfills.
And if learning all these tips are a bit overwhelming for you, here’s our best advice:
The best way to reduce plastic waste is to start with the smaller things you (and your family) can manage and sustain.
It can be as simple as bringing a reusable food container every time you order takeouts or shopping for plastic-free bathroom essentials.
Anyways, which of the Plastic Free July tips above would you start first?
Which ones are you already doing?