Tomorrow marks the start of Plastic Free July! It began in 2011 as a small initiative in Western Australia, but has since grown to include millions from around the world.
This month Krista and I will be challenging ourselves to find and fix those areas in our homes that still use plastic. We will be sharing some of those changes with you throughout July.
To start off Plastic Free July, though, here are 50 thoughts to provide motivation and inspiration to decrease our use of plastic.
10 Reasons to Decrease Plastic Use
We are constantly hearing the narrative that plastic is bad and single use plastics are even worse. But why? Here are 10 reasons why plastic is a problem that will hopefully provide motivation for making some changes this Plastic Free July.
- “Canadians throw away over 3 million tonnes of plastic waste every year.”
- Only 9% is recycled while the rest ends up in our landfills, waste-to-energy facilities or the environment.” (Read more on points 1 and 2 here)
- “Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate our marine environments.” (Ocean Conservancy)
- “A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021.” (The Guardian)
- “Fewer than half of the bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling and just 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles. Instead most plastic bottles produced end up in landfill or in the ocean.” (The Guardian)
- “Most plastic items never fully disappear; they just get smaller and smaller…
- Many of these tiny plastic particles are swallowed by farm animals or fish who mistake them for food, and thus can find their way onto our dinner plates.” (UN Environment)
- “Up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once — and then thrown away.” (UN Environment)
- We produce 300 million tons of plastic each year worldwide, half of which is for single-use items. That’s nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.” (NRDC)
- “Recent studies found plastic in the guts of 90 percent of the seabirds tested and 100 percent of the turtles.” (NRDC)
[Related: Plastic Free July: Food]
10 Easy Ways to Start Reducing Your Plastic Use
A huge topic like eliminating plastic can be daunting. It can be hard to know where to even start. These are 10 easy things you can do right now. Whether you’re doing these things wholeheartedly or imperfectly or somewhere in between, it all adds up to make a difference.
- Use a reusable shopping bag
- Say no to a straw when you’re out for a drink
- Buy soap the next time you run out of body wash
- Save a glass jar and reuse it
- Use a reusable water bottle
- Choose one bulk produce item to not put in a produce bag
- Bring a reusable coffee cup
- Bring your own cutlery
- Use your next single use plastic item more than once
- The next time you have a choice between a plastic item or something else, choose the alternative
[Related: Bluebird Pads – A Plastic Free Period]
10 Instagram Accounts to Follow for Inspiration
It’s always nice to remember we are not tackling these big topics or changes on our own. Here are 10 Instagram accounts we love following and that are inspiring us to keep reducing our plastic use.
- @Plastic Free July
Straight to the source! They are the ones who started us on the Plastic Free July movement.
This account focuses on the small changes each of us make and how each one really does make a difference. It’s a great reminder about how our daily choices really do add up.
Melyssa’s on a journey towards low waste and we’ve learned so much from following her. She’s friendly, relatable, and offers really helpful tips!
Kate Nelson has been plastic free for 10 years. She’s certainly walking the talk! It’s an inspiration to see how it truly is possible to make the switch to a plastic free life.
Her bio describes her as a “Climate Optimist” which I just love. Kathryn offers real talk about going zero waste in a friendly way. She also gives a weekly dose of positive news. Who doesn’t love a bit of positivity?!
Arvin and Deandra have a beautiful feed featuring their island life. They are also sharing some great tips and thoughts on sustainable living.
Megean is a zero waste educator and her feed is jam-packed with helpful tips.
Freija is a marine scientist that is working on mapping microplastics. She not only has a cool job, but also has some great insight and tips.
These last two are a reminder of why we’re trying to reduce our plastic use and our waste. Both accounts have beautiful, inspiring pictures of this place we call earth.
Keenan is a nature photographer with a lot of focus on the beauty of rain forests, mountains, and waterfalls.
“A glacier story in Patagonia” says it all. This is a collection of gorgeous glacier photos which remind me of why we’re trying to save them from melting.
10 Ways to Challenge Yourself to go Further
If you’ve already started on your plastic free journey or if you’re ready to just jump straight in with two feet, here are 10 ways you can challenge yourself to further reduce your plastic waste.
- Try making something from scratch (lip balm, deodorant…)
- Pack your lunch every day instead of eating out
- Use a shampoo bar instead of a bottle
- Shop bulk stores
- Shop for clothes without microplastics
- Bring your own container for leftovers at restaurants
- Stop buying plastic toothbrushes
- Stop buying plastic razors
- Bring your own reusable produce bags
- Become an advocate for the environment and share your journey with others
[Related: Plastic Free Bathroom]
10 Hopeful Facts
It’s not all bad news. Movements like Plastic Free July are making a difference and there are some amazing things happening out in the world. Here are a few we took note of.
- There are tons of advances in alternatives to plastic packaging, such as plant based pop bottles and food packaging from seaweed.
- People are being innovative and finding new ways to repurpose discarded plastic waste, like these fishing nets turned hat brims.
- Movements like Plastic Free July have grown from a grassroots group of 40 people in Australia to one that has millions of participants around the globe.
- Canada is taking steps to eliminate harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021.
- The entire country of Costa Rica has run on 98% renewable energy.
- Indonesia pledges to invest $1-Billion every year to reduce ocean pollution.
- One person’s determination can truly make a difference, like it did in this village where one leader started knocking on doors, gathered volunteers, and now they plan to reduce plastic waste going to the landfills to zero percent by 2022.
- Large companies, like Ikea, are phasing out single use plastics.
- Other companies are providing a place for people to recycle those hard-to-recycle items, like London Drugs offering bins for soft plastics–an initiative that led to recycling over 1-million pounds of plastic.
- Cities around the world are getting serious about separating garbage and disposing items properly, like the food scraps recycling and green bin initiative in Metro Vancouver.
Will you be joining us for plastic free July? Let us know in the comments!