Sustainable Living

Plastic Free July: 3 Years On

Plastic Free July: Background

Plastic Free July is a month long event that encourages people to examine their plastic use and minimize plastic in everyday life. Plastic Free July started with a small group of people in Western Australia and has since become a part of the Plastic Free Foundation. Events are held worldwide with millions of people participating.

The great thing about Plastic Free July is that anyone can participate and that you can join in at your own pace. You don’t have to ditch 100% of your plastic right from July 1st – small, continuous changes over a period of time make a huge difference. To get started, simply determine one small change you can make today and then do it!

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Reflecting on past years of Plastic Free July

Alison and I started this blog in 2020 with the goal of living life sustainably while sticking to a budget. It can be so easy (but not budget-friendly!) to just purchase sustainable options, so we had wanted to challenge ourselves to reach toward sustainability with innovative ideas that didn’t break the bank, and then share them with you!

We were (and still are) so inspired to eliminate waste in general, and plastic in particular, and have been spurred on since our first Plastic Free July in 2020 to dig even deeper into our lives and habits to find hidden areas of waste.

Today on the blog I’m reflecting on our past Plastic Free July-inspired ideas and activities and share what has worked, what hasn’t, and if we have come up with any additional alternatives to plastic use!

plastic free july
Beeswax wraps – used regularly!

Plastic Free Bathroom

See past post here

The Swap: Disposable Sanitary Pads for Reusable Cotton Pads

No looking back here! The reusable cotton pads take a bit of effort to clean, but less than I originally thought. They wash up well and are much softer and pleasant to use than disposables. If you haven’t already, give them a try! We love Blushing Bluebird pads as they are a local supplier for us, but there are many individuals and companies that make these. They’re a bit of an upfront investment, but build up your inventory slowly and watch how your monthly costs decrease as you no longer purchase disposables!

plastic free july
Reusable cotton pads

The Swap: Plastic Bottled Shampoo for a Shampoo Bar

Alison and I both loved the bars, however I’ve since switched to refilling containers. I purchase a large quantity of shampoo and conditioner at one time from this company and then refill my own bottles at home. I find that I purchase a one large container of each shampoo and conditioner about once per year and can then use the bulk size plastic bottle in the garden – cut in half and you have a great mini greenhouse!

The Swap: Plastic Toothbrushes for Bamboo Toothbrushes

This is a swap I’ve been doing for some time and it’s an easy one to make, though can be a bit tougher on the budget. However I’ve often been able to find bamboo toothbrushes at discount retailers such as Winners for a couple of dollars per brush.

The Swap: Store Bought Deodorant for Homemade Deodorant

I have to confess, I haven’t made my deodorant in some time. Life got hectic and I instead relied on refilleries for products such as this one from Jarr Delivery. This is a great option but definitely a bit harder on the budget at $16 than my recipe at $2.72 per container.

plastic free july
Making homemade deodorant

Plastic Free Kitchen

The Swap: Plastic food storage for non-plastic alternatives

It’s so easy to reach for budget-friendly and convenient plastic food storage containers, however research has shown that plastics can leach into foods, and that this can impact our health. I invested in a set of glass storage containers several years ago which isn’t the most affordable option, however Alison saves and reuses glass jars for food storage instead of throwing them into the recycling bin, which is a very budget-friendly option!

Another investment I found absolutely worth it were beeswax wraps – I use mine all the time and they even help reduce food waste by keeping food fresh for longer than if it wasn’t wrapped, win-win! I did try making my own, but it didn’t turn out so well…

The Swap: Disposable dish cloths and scrubbers for compostable products

I am still using homemade cotton crocheted cloths that can simply be tossed into the compost bin when they’re no longer usable. I did use a bamboo-based scrubber for awhile, but found it didn’t really ever dry out very well. I now opt to use a bit of baking soda on my cloth as an abrasive, and it works very well for me!

Plastic Free Food

I had shared a few recipes that I tried in order to make my family’s food as plastic-free as possible. In all honesty, with packing lunches for kids and not a lot of extra time, I often rely on packaged snacks, though sometimes I have enough time to throw together some muffins.

However, it is easy to remember to bring reusable straws, water bottles and coffee cups and my kids love their metal straws!

Child's hand holding a reusable straw with a tractor charm
Cute reusable straw

Another great plastic free food option is to grow your own or visit a local farmer! Local and fresh produce is made even better by the lack of plastic packaging. I’m so excited to share that on my last grocery shop I was able to skip past the berries, snap peas, and greens because I have them all growing in my backyard! If you’ve never tried gardening, check out Alison’s latest post about her balcony garden – anyone can grow their own plastic free food!

What can you do?

Sign up for the Plastic Free July challenge and share your progress with us!

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What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!