20+ Ways to Participate in Plastic-Free July

Posted by Deirdre Quirk on Jul 11th 2019

Every year, the Story of Stuff encourages people all over the world to take stock of amount of single-use plastic they use every day and to participate in Plastic-Free July, a movement to reduce plastic pollution and create cleaner streets, healthier oceans, and more sustainable communities. And every year, C&T Publishing takes the pledge and tries to do our part! You can join in too—check out the ways we're cutting down on plastic in our own lives (at work and at home), sew some cute reusable bags to replace plastic shopping bags, and don't forget to learn more about spreading the movement in your own neighborhood. 

Liz: We're trying to use glass storage containers instead of Ziploc bags or plastic storage containers. Also trying to use reusable water bottles in the car instead of single-use water bottles.

Angela: I couldn't even tell you how many bottles of water my son and I go through in a week, let alone a month. It's embarrassing! (Although I do save the bottles for a guy up the street who can use the returned cash.) BUT where we live we cannot drink the tap water. So we are getting a reverse osmosis filter system for the house, like we have here at the office. :-)

Dawn: We have just replaced 99% of our plastic food storage containers with glass. We also use water bottles, never buy bottled water unless there is no other option, and always have a stash of reusable bags in our trunk when grocery shopping. Not gonna lie, sometimes we forget to take them out of the trunk, so I make sure I select the paper bags instead of the plastic and ALWAYS use them for something at the house instead of tossing them. When out and about, we never ask for straws (unless medically necessary there really is NO NEED to use them). My goal is to bring my own containers to buy things in bulk at the grocery store, invest in some glass/metal straws for when we want one of those, and to make some veggie bags for the produce aisle. We have cut down on water usage, turn off lights when leaving the room, and try not to run appliances during peak hours. I am finding the more I am aware of my environment and my personal habits and the more I educate myself, the more empowered I am.

You can make your own reusable grocery bag, with our free projects featuring kraft-tex! On the left is the kraft-tex tote featuring Designer kraft-tex and on the right is the carryall tote featuring classic black. 

Kerry: This year when camping, we all brought our own reusable water bottles and coffee to-go cups. We did use single-use paper plates, but we all brought our own forks, spoons, and knives to be washed and reused each day.

Betsy: I'm looking forward to challenging myself to get rid of more plastic. At home we have reusable water bottles, glass containers for leftovers, and reusable straws! (I love the glass straws I purchased here: http://glassdharma.com/. They have a lifetime guarantee against breakage and in the 4+ years I've had them, I haven't had a single one break!) I also have a set of biodegradable utensils that I keep at work so I don't have to use plastic single-use utensils. My goals for July: 

1. Remember to bring drawstring bags with me to the grocery store so I don't have to use the single-use plastic bags in the produce section. (I keep several of our eco totes in my car for groceries and they're great!) 

2. Buy bulk (with my reusable bags) when possible. 

3. Bring a foldable/reusable tote to stores OTHER than the grocery store. 

It's amazing how much plastic we use in our daily lives, and I'm hoping that this plastic-free July movement will help spur ideas for other ways to cut back on plastic!

Deirdre: I was originally inspired to start cutting out plastic by two of my friends who had gone completely trash-free; they only had a recycling bin and compost bin in their house, no trash can at all. I haven't gotten quite that far, but I'm taking small steps: silk floss that comes in a cute glass container and is refillable; using bar soap instead of body wash or liquid hand soap; spray-on deodorant in a glass bottle; and ordering toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap? (they mail you a HUGE box every three months with cute, paper-wrapped rolls).

Jennifer: I use glass or ceramic-ware as much as possible for work lunches, leftovers, and food storage. I also have a reusable water bottle that I take everywhere. In addition, I’m sewing fabric versions of disposable cotton rounds. They’re much prettier to look at, and I get to choose the fabrics!

Tristan: I use glass storage containers, beeswax fabric to replace plastic cling wrap, plates to cover bowls in place of wrap, reusable shopping bags that live in my trunk and purse for store stops, and paper and metal straws (which I'm looking to replace with glass as it’s easier to clean). Changes to make moving forward would be replacing produce bags with fabric ones (I plan to sew some). The biggest challenge is seeking out bulk liquid products such as shampoo, etc.

Todd: In addition to all of the great ideas already stated here, some things/ideas are: subscribing and donating to Story of Stuff and other environmental causes; petitioning local small businesses to change their take-out packaging to something more environmentally friendly; emailing school leaders to ask them to stop offering plastic water bottles and plastic utensils at school events and in cafeterias; writing and calling our local and state legislators to pass legislation to ban single-use plastic; voting and encouraging family and friends to vote for politicians who support the environment; and moving all of your investment choices in your 401K to socially responsible funds.

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