Plastic Free July, Low Impact Living and Who to Follow

Sunday, July 15, 2018
We're already halfway through July. Ridiculous. How? When? I only have 16 days left of my 20s?!? I really don't understand how time works anymore.

July doesn't just mean birthday month for me -- it's also is Plastic Free July. What's Plastic Free July you ask? It's an awareness campaign that challenges participants to refuse single-use plastics for the entire month of July. The idea started in 2011 in Perth, Australia but there are now over 2 million participants from all over the world! The aim of the challenge is to call attention to just how much plastic we consume in our day to day lives, promote behavioral changes that reduces plastic consumption and support people as they live a lower impact life.

zero waste plastic free july reusable eco friendly mason jar tote bag produce glass pantry bulk shopping

I'm sure you've noticed lately that I've been discussing topics that are at least tangentially related to the environment more and more frequently. 2018 has truly been eye opening for me regarding the state of our planet. We've made more plastic in the last 10 years than we have in the entire previous century and we're exponentially increasing our consumption every year. Already, more than one million plastic bags are used a minute across the world, totaling more than 500 billion each year. Only about 5% of plastic ends up getting recycled, so much of the plastic used ends up in landfills or in our oceans. In fact, over 1 million sea birds and 500,000 mammals die every year due to the plastic that ends up in our oceans. Often they're dying due to starvation after mistaking plastic for food, filling up their stomachs and never being able to pass the plastic out. And sadly, every single piece of plastic we've made ever still exists today and will continue to exist for about another 500-1000 years. (Source)

I know that was a lot of disheartening information to read and it might have even made you angry, either with me for shoving it in your face or with the world for letting our planet get into such a sorry state. Whatever emotions you might have felt, I'd like you to consider harnessing them into some kind of action. If your instinct was disbelief, thinking that those facts couldn't possibly be true, line up a documentary watch party. If your heart went out to all the animals that starve due to plastic, go out and do a little trash pickup in your area. If you were floored by the number of bags we're using a second, go prep yourself a little plastic-free shopping kit. Any approach you can think of will literally make this world a better place than it currently is.

zero waste plastic free july reusable eco friendly mason jar tote bag produce glass
My plastic-free shopping kit: reusable tote and produce bags, mason jar for wet bulk items and small jar for bulk spices
If you're ready for a few simple changes to help you reduce your plastic usage very easily, here are some of my favorite ideas:

1) You're probably already using reusable shopping totes thanks to the discount for bringing them in many stores or even the up-charge or complete ban in others. Go a step further and swap the plastic produce bags for some reusable cloth bags like these.

2) Next time you need to stock up for self-care Sunday, ditch your plastic shampoos, conditioners and soaps and grab some plastic-free packaged bar soaps instead. They last so long, work just as well and you now officially have a reason to go make a Lush haul.

3) Create and bring your own plastic-free supply kit with you wherever you go. A reusable water bottle, cutlery, a container for leftovers from restaurants, and maybe even a reusable coffee cup if you're a coffee addict like me should help you reduce a lot of incidental plastic in your day to day life.

4) A lot of plastic comes from food packaging. Shop the bulk section, which so many regular grocery stores have these days. In my area, Fresh Thyme and Super Saver (locally-owned chain) both have really great selection and cheap prices. If you need something from the deli you can ask them to put whatever you're buying into your own container. Finally, try to buy loose produce instead of plastic wrapped produce.

5) Make what you can. You don't need to go all in right away, but figure out what you use a lot of that you can't find without plastic packaging and scour the internet for DIY varieties. There are so many easy recipes out there for anything from bread to nut milks to face masks and making them can be a really fun alternative to sitting in front of the TV for yet another night. I love making my own cold brew coffee from locally-roasted whole beans that I buy loose from a local coffee shop, strained with a cheesecloth (which is also great for making nut milks). Lip scrubs are also super easy to make using honey and sugar.

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Making my daily cold brew coffee with cheesecloth and a mesh strainer
Maybe you're hooked and ready to dive into this plastic-free life, or at least to keep learning about it? Time to get your follow button finger ready! These are some of my favorite Plastic Free July, low impact living or even full on Zero Waste people and resources: - TONS of other great links here
Vermicomposting post
Flirting with veganism post

And finally, if all else fails, please recycle! No one is a perfect, plastic-free human. In reality, just focusing on reduction is probably more realistic than complete elimination, especially at first. So while you're still a plastic consumer, let's move the needle on that 5% recycling rate. At the very least you're helping prevent more plastic from being made.

What changes are you going to tackle first to reduce your plastic consumption?
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