Plastic Free July
Zero Waste Lifestyle
June 30, 2017 | Kathryn Kellogg
Last Updated on September 11, 2020
Plastic Free July kicks off tomorrow!!
what is Plastic Free July??
It’s a campaign that was started in 2011 to get people thinking about plastic pollution.
It’s really similar to the zero waste movement, but they’re only asking you to commit to a month of trying to avoid disposables. They have this darling little graphic on their site.
The goal is to avoid disposables in the month of July. You can pick one disposable to avoid like single-use plastic straws. You can try and avoid the big four which are grocery bags, plastic straws, to-go coffee cups, and plastic water bottles. Of course, you can go all in and avoid all disposables too!
Since it’s only a month long commitment, you can get your toes wet and see if it’s something you’d want to pursue long term.
Plus it takes 28 days to make a habit…. 😉 By then, you’ll be so used to bringing your own to-go cup to the coffee shop, you won’t even remember disposables exist.
Head on over to Plastic Free July and make a pledge on what you’d like to give up this July. I highly encourage anyone to participate, but especially share it with your friends on the fence about zero waste living.
If you’ve ever heard your friends say, “That sounds hard or stupid or time-consuming,” have them pledge to give up one thing. They’ll quickly find how easy, fun, and simple it is!
RELATED: Zero Waste Myths
bust the big four:
Here are some of my favorite reusable items to swap out for the big four plastic polluters. Of course, if you have one of these items, you should use what you already have first!
ditch the disposable coffee cups:
The good ol’ reliable mason jar*. I use mason jars for almost everything. Check out my blog post for 13 unexpected uses. This multitasking powerhouse deserves a place in your cabinet. With its leak-proof lid, it’s perfect to throw in your bag.
However, heat transfers very quickly with glass. I would reccomend cold drinks like cold brew and iced coffee.
Of course, you can throw a coozie* on your jar for hot drinks. If you know how to knit, you can easily knit one. Celia at Litterless sent me one for my birthday two years ago. I absolutely love it! I get my hot drinks to go at the coffee shop without having to worry about hurting anyone’s hands.
It also helps to prevent breakage. I’ve never had a mason jar break due to hot liquids being poured in one, but it can happen if the glass is compromised with a small crack.
The keep cup* is a super popular option around the zero waste community, and I can see why… They’re darling!! However, you cannot throw this into your bag. It’s more of a walk and sip kinda cup.
My mom gave Justin an engraved Yeti* tumbler for Christmas. He loves carrying it and getting his coffee to-go in the morning.
He LOVES Blue Bottle coffee. It’s definitely his vice when he goes into the city for school, and I love any reusable that Justin loves.
ditch the plastic grocery bags:
Bag Podz* are my FAVORITE reusable bags. I cannot stress how much I love these. They’re compact and easy to use. I can take one out and throw it in my bag, or if I’m going grocery shopping, I’ll take the whole pod.
I have 10 in my pod, and I never have to worry about not having enough bags.
My mom has these trolley bags and she loves them. She uses them every trip. They can get pretty heavy to carry since there are only four.
Our print shop is next door to a grocery store, so she buys groceries every couple of days and it’s never an issue. I don’t make it to the grocery store very often, so I would stick to the bagpodz.
Don’t forget about reusable produce bags* too! These are synthetic which is a bummer, but they’re super light weight and the mesh has a very, very fine weave.
They’re see through and perfect for produce and for bulk items. Even small bulk items like rice! They weigh very, very little so there’s no need to subtract the tare weight.
I also have a whole bunch of these organic cotton bags*. The weave is quite a bit larger. You can get larger bulk bin items in these and produce.
RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Grocery Shopping
ditch disposable straws:
I think I’ve tried every type of reusable straw out there. Everyone has their own preference. I like the stainless steel* ones, they’re super durable and reliable.
Justin does not like the stainless steel ones. He says they taste too much like metal and he can’t “see” the clean which bothers him.
I have not tried silicone straws*. But, I think these would be great for children! I can definitely see how glass and stainless straws might be a little too scary to hand to a toddler.
I love drinking smoothies out of bamboo straws*. It makes me feel like I’m on vacation. They do have a slight bamboo-y taste to them.
I can’t really describe it, but it tastes like summer vacation to me. I love to drink out of these in the winter.
I think glass straws* take the ultimate prize though. These are Justin’s and my favorite reusable straws of all. There’s no “taste”, they have a really good mouth feel, and most importantly: you can *SEE* the clean.
ditch plastic water bottles:
If you’re clumsy or prone to dropping glass like regular mason jars, a glass water bottle with a silicone sleeve* might before you.
These are really durable. They’re also really cute allowing for a little more personalization than just a basic stainless steel water bottle.
My friend swears by her s’well bottle*. The only issue she runs into is getting ice into the opening.
And, last but not least the bottle Justin and I swear by. Our handy dandy Klean Kanteens*. I found both of our kanteens at the thrift store for one dollar!!
Always make sure you check the second-hand market first. Well, first check your house. Then check the second-hand market.
RELATED: How to Filter Water Without Plastic
If you’re looking for more plastic free, zero waste swaps, check out my top 10 post.
Have you taken the Plastic Free July Pledge? What did you pledge to give up?
This post contains affiliate linking. It’s denoted with an asterisk. This means if you choose to purchase one of these items I will make a slight commission for referring you. You can read more on my disclosure page.
I use a small stainless steel thermos vacuum flask which has done me for many years for both hot and cold drinks according to the season. I also have a wide necked one for soup and hot food. No need for silicone sleeves or knitted jackets, as vacuum flasks are designed not to leak heat/cold. I don’t bother with straws, as they are not an essential item.
Getting an insulated thermos has been on my list! I haven’t found one at the thrift store yet. Thanks for reminding me. 🙂 I would say straws aren’t necessary most times, but smoothies are the exception! I drink smoothies almost every morning and you’re liable to get smoothie all over your face without a straw. 😀
Hi there, I just cicked on the Organic cotton bags for produce and I am taken to a Polyester product! I’m sure you know that Polyester is plastic and far removed from organic and cotton. I’m sure it is just a link error but please do fix it as from the reviews people have been purchasing them and getting expensive plastic.
Thank you for letting me know! It has been fixed.
Are the glass straws very durable? I want something that I can just throw in my purse and not worry about. I like the idea of stainless but I know I’m very sensitive to the metallic taste in tumblers etc
Surprisingly durable. I have two that clang around in a drawer at work and I’m always surprised they haven’t chipped. You should check out straw sleeves on Etsy. She sells little straw jackets to protect them in your bag or in drawers. I wouldn’t recommend the metal straws to you if you’re sensitive to it. My husband is the same way and he does not like drinking out of the stainless straw.
Great- thanks for the info. I might try the silicon ones for my kids
Hi Kathryn. I read about your phone, I know you’re using your mum’s old one, but in case you ever need a new one go and check Fairphone. They make ethical, always repairable and mostly recyclable smartphones. It’s a dutch company but they ship worldwide.
Thanks, I’ll look into that!
My plastic-free July pledge is twofold:
First, I’m going to become much more proactive in saying "No straws" before I order when I’m eating out because even though I mostly don’t use disposables, I often will get a straw automatically because I forget to forestall it.
Second, I’m going to go on a buying freeze because so many things come packaged in plastic whether they are plastic themselves or not. I just had a big purchase come in of health-related stuff from the FSA Store and the amount of plastic packaging and packing materials was unreal.
We all know that Styrofoam is full of air and difficult to transport. However, our company INTCO has several machines which can deal with the problem. The machine can compact or melt the Styrofoam into blocks or ingots. And then we can reuse the resources to do other products such as floor bricks. You can get more information from our website: http://www.intcorecycling.com/styrofoam-recycling-solutions.html