3 ways to prepare for plastic-free July

Plastic-Free July is an initiative working to raise awareness of the amount of single-use, disposable plastic we’re consuming in our daily lives and habits. This important month-long event is not simply about knowing there is an issue, but also doing something about it.

Plastic-Free July challenges us to personally pledge to go ‘plastic-free’ for a month and create some longer-term eco ninja habits in the process.

What are we challenging?

Truth is, we’re living in a plastic epidemic. While it would be amazing if we could switch our tech and manufacturing overnight, there are complicated social and economic impacts wrapped up in that, which means one of the fastest ways to deliver change is for us, as consumers, to drive the demand for better solutions by rethinking our daily habits and purchases.

That’s right – people power!

The cure is for us to rethink convention, pivot our mindset, and recreate our everyday habits anew.

Doing that, we can make stats like this history:

  • More than 8 million tonnes of new plastic pollution enter our oceans each year killing turtles, whales, dolphins, seals, and seabirds
  • Because it’s so durable, every single piece of plastic ever made still exists and will continue existing for at least 500 years
  • Up to 236,000 tonnes of microplastics (tiny pieces of broken-down plastic smaller than your little fingernail) enter our oceans each year
  • These plastics (and the toxic chemicals they’re made of) are being eaten by animals, entering marine food chains.

Please don’t get scared away by the name

While they call it a ‘challenge’ for good reason (removing plastic from our lives is damn hard), the key thing to know is that you set your own goals in the challenge.

If you haven’t already ditched the ‘core four’ plastic offenders (bags, water bottles, coffee cups and straws) you might want to start there. If you’ve already embarked on your plastic-ditching journey, you might be looking to tackle the tricky problem of food packaging or be keen to task yourself with staying clear of all disposable plastic for the month.

Whatever you choose to avoid and whatever timeframe you commit to (the full month, a week, a day a week), Mother Earth salutes you! Every piece of plastic we say ‘no’ to should be celebrated!

A challenge like this warrants some prep

Don’t wait until 1 July to get started. Set your goals ahead of time, and then set aside some time to think and plan how you’re going to achieve them. This way, you’ll wake up on 1 July feeling ready for business.

3 GROUPS OF PLASTIC YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER BEFORE PLASTIC-FREE JULY:

1. PLASTIC STORAGE & TOOLS

Have a look at the disposable plastics you find yourself using and arm yourself with reusable or plastic-free tools ahead of your challenge.

  1. A cotton shopping bag
  2. A cotton produce bag
  3. A reusable glass coffee cup
  4. A stainless steel straw
  5. A beeswax wrap
  6. A bamboo cutlery spork
  7. A pack of bamboo cotton buds
  8. A bamboo toothbrush
  9. Coconut fibre scrubbing brushes

2. FOOD PACKAGING

Food packaging is by far the hardest single-use plastic to avoid. Cleanup Australia reports food packaging as the third-largest source of plastic pollution in their latest report. Some preparation tips to reduce your food packaging consumption:

  • Get your hands on some reusable produce bags and purchase loose fruit and veggies rather than pre-packaged ones.
  • Grab a reusable bread bag and do the same thing.
  • Find a butcher that will wrap your meat plastic free.
  • Think about the pre-packaged foods you’re buying that could be made with extra love and flavour at home with a day of meal prep. Things like hummus, falafel and soup can be prepped and frozen.
  • Get a kitchen herb garden on the go. It’s fresher, good for the soul and doesn’t come wrapped in plastic film.

3. PLASTIC BOTTLES

Plastic-Free July is a great time to test some DIY recipes to reduce some of the plastic bottles we’re consuming in our everyday purchases. Here are some quick and easy ones to have in your back pocket.

Multi-surface cleaner

  • 275ml of water
  • 25ml of vinegar
  • 6 drops of lemon oil
  • 6 drops of lavender oil
  • 6 drops of tea tree oil
  • (Mix together in a 300ml glass spray bottle)

Oven cleaner

  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 2 tablespoons of baking soda
  • 3 drops of orange oil
  • 3 drops of lemon oil
  • (Mix into a paste in a small dish)

Hand and body wash

  • 200ml water
  • 80ml of liquid castile soap
  • 20ml (1 tablespoon) of liquid oil (e.g. coconut, olive or jojoba oil)
  • 25 drops of essential oils of your choice
  • (Mix together in a 300ml glass pump bottle)

For more, check out 16 natural cleaning recipes here.

The most important thing is to get involved

Engaging in the challenge is the most important thing. And engaging with a community that’s tackling it can make it fun, and give you some support and a forum to share stories. We’ll be sharing tips and tricks throughout the month on Instagram. Tag #PlasticFreeCollective to join the conversation.

It’s likely that you’re going to come into a number of sticky situations you won’t have considered navigating without plastic before your challenge, no matter the prep you put in. You might not always ninja your way past them plastic-free first time, but you’ll learn from them and have considered a way around them for next time and that’s a serious win for the planet.

During your challenge, collect any disposable plastic that you use but were hoping to avoid in a box. At the end of the month, you’ll be left with a box of lessons.

Remember to celebrate

Every piece of plastic we ditch should be celebrated! If every family in Australia said no to just one piece of single-use plastic every day for the month of July, that would prevent 186,000,000 pieces of plastic being consumed. Together, small changes can make a big difference.

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