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Plastic sucks. How to ditch it this Plastic Free July

This post was originally published on this site

Each year the Plastic Free July campaign urges us to ‘choose to refuse’ single use plastics.

Many of the zero waste, conscious living bloggers I follow began their journeys by signing up in July, getting hooked, and never looking back.

Trust me, this stuff is addictive! It’s a fun challenge, and when you make wins it feels good too.

As I always say, it doesn’t need to be overwhelming – small shifts. It’s a great idea to start with one or two things and soon they just become habit.

The Plastic Free July movement asks us to find alternatives for single-use plastics.

Here are the best places to start, and what I’ve done to replace them for good:

Plastic water bottles

Easy, get a metal or a glass one and refill it for free literally anywhere you go!

Plastic shopping bags

Go naked! Simply choose fresh produce without packaging or bagging them.

Buy or make some totes, or take a cutie little basket. I find it handy to always have a little fold-up tote in my bag or back pocket. You can go a step further and get some little produce bags too, which are so versatile.

Takeaway containers & cutlery

A little harder, admittedly, but I’m a big advocate for simply dining in. Choose places that serve food on regular old plates, using regular metal cutlery and you’ll probably enjoy it more anyway.
Try taking your own container places and asking if they’ll put your food straight in it – it won’t always be accepted but it’s worth trying.

It’s worked for me so far at bakeries (we’ve got a container for our bread loaves that get sliced straight into it), cafes (muffins, biscuits and all the treats!), and some delis (many independent stores are happy to tare your container then fill it at the counter. We’ve bought cheese and olives this way). 

Drinking straws

The least-missed item. Really, who needs them?

Easiest step: Ask for your drink with no straw and dare to live on the edge and drink from the cup!
I’ve also bought a couple of stainless steel straws, which you can always take places with you if you really love drinking from straws.

Takeaway coffee cups

These have an invisible plastic lining, meaning they often can’t be recycled at all. There are so many cute reusable cups on the market, and some really cheap options too. You can even just take a mug from home or the office if you’re not travelling far.
My cup and I haven’t been knocked back yet.

Joco glass reusable coffee cups on display at Biome

“But it’s ok, it’s recyclable.”
There are a few reasons why recycling is simply not a long-term solution to our global plastic problem.
Even when plastic items end up in the recycling stream, they are often downcycled, meaning they are turned into something of lower quality, which eventually ends up in landfill anyway.
Plastic does not break down. It can break up (think microplastics in our oceans), but not down.

Even though single-use items like takeaway containers are designed to be used just once for a few moments, they’re made from a material that is indestructible! So by refusing these plastics to begin with, and ‘investing’ in a some cool, cute, reusable things, we’re reducing our reliance on plastic, hopefully leading to less being produced in the first place.

So much of the plastic we use for only a few minutes ends up in the ocean,
becoming a hazard for green turtles like these guys!
Snapped on North Shore, Hawaii

Ok, so long term goals need to start somewhere!
I’ve already blogged about some simple, good-looking reusable alternatives I’ve adopted – and I haven’t looked back.

READ MORE: Waste-free posts

My pantry, bathroom, kitchen, laundry are so much neater, food stays fresher as it goes straight into jars and containers, I don’t need to trundle my wheelie bins out onto the street when it’s raining, and most of all, finding alternatives just makes you feel good!
What will you pledge for July? 
Check out the Plastic Free July website, Twitter and Facebook for some great tips, and by signing up you’ll get help throughout the month – as if you’ll need motivation!

As I said: this challenge is addictive.