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5 Top Tips for Plastic Free July

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July might just be my favorite month! I’m quite cheery in the summer and I love the longer days, but that’s not why. July is a month dedicated to discussing the issue of plastic waste and actually DOING something about it!

The Plastic Free July Foundation started in Western Australia with the mission “to build a global movement that dramatically reduces plastic use and improves recycling.” With over 2 million people from 159 countries taking part in this annual challenge, the Foundation is delivering on that mission.

By participating, we’re all part of the movement to increase awareness of the problem of plastic waste. The challenge has a particular focus on single use plastic (plastic used only once and then thrown away).

Although I always avoid plastic as much as possible year round, I love taking the Plastic Free July challenge to go that extra step. It forces me to be hyper aware of how plastic sneaks into my life and make changes.

It’s definitely overwhelming to give up all single use plastic all at once, so you don’t have to! That’s the best part of Plastic Free July. It’s inclusive. Don’t let fear of going completely plastic free prevent you from joining this exciting (and fun!) challenge. Just by joining, you’re taking the first important step to reducing your plastic waste. Next, simply choose to give up one form of single use plastic for the month and see how it goes!

 

To help you, I’ve rounded up my 5 top tips for this Plastic Free July. Addressing even just one of these is a great place to start.

 

1. Say no to straws

  • Americans use 500 MILLION plastic straws EVERY DAY and because they are too lightweight to make it through mechanical recycling sorters, most end up in our oceans, polluting water, and killing marine life.
  • There are great straw alternatives for all you straw lovers out there: stainless steel, bamboo, or glass. They are lightweight and easily fit into your bag. We carry so much in our bags, surely you can fit a cute little straw in there!
  • Paper straws are still wasteful but are better than plastic ones as they disintegrate in the ocean.

2. Switch to Teapigs tea

  • I bet you didn’t think tea would come up on my list! Well, conventional tea bags are made with plastic. No, I’m not kidding. And I drink A LOT of tea. The plastic in tea bags is polypropylene, which helps the bag retain its shape in hot water. Although tea leaves are compostable, the plastic tea bags are not and.
  • Switching to a more sustainable tea might just be the easiest way you can reduce single use plastic! All you have to do is buy a different brand!
  • My absolute favorite tea is from teapigs. The quality of the tea is superb and the flavors are heaven (my favorite being Licorice and Peppermint). Teapigs has NEVER used plastic in its tea bags! The tea is housed in a biodegradable “tea temple” with enough room for the gorgeous tea leaves to diffuse. In fact, all its packaging is eco-friendly. The cardboard boxes are fully recyclable and the clear inner bag that keeps the tea fresh is made from renewable wood pulp that is compostable!
  • Because I love tea and teapigs so much, I also posted a Q&A with Louise, teapigs Co-Founder and tea taster. Check it out here to learn more about the health benefits of tea, why the source of tea matters, and how teapigs goes the extra mile to be a “green” company.

3. Carry a resuable water bottle

  • Worldwide, we buy ONE MILLION plastic bottles EVERY MINUTE and less than half of those get recycled. Additionally, new reports are coming out that estimate that 95% of plastic water bottles have microplastic in them that we are consuming. Not. Good.
  • Carrying a Klean Kanteen water bottle with you is a great way to avoid single use plastic water bottles (and the microplastics inside them). I have a Go Pure Pod water filter inside my water bottle so I feel confident filling up virtually anywhere!

4. Ditch plastic bags at the grocery store

  • Do you ever place bananas, avocados, apples, oranges into those thin plastic bags at the grocery store? You’re not alone and until a few years ago, I used them too. We’re conditioned to fill them with produce without thinking. But, they really aren’t necessary. I just throw all my produce directly into the cart! No bags necessary. Your produce can withstand the trip from grocery store to your home without a plastic bag!
  • If you’re partial to a bag, there are eco-friendly alternatives! After 3 times of bringing your own bags to the store, you’re going to wonder why you didn’t try this sooner!
  • Nearly 2 MILLION single-use plastic bags distributed worldwide every minute. You can make a difference and #choosetorefuse them. I promise your life will not be negatively affected!

5. Buy one food staple in bulk

  • Do you buy nuts, grains, pasta, seeds, nut butter, etc. every week in a plastic bag? If so, then I have a solution for you to avoid those single use plastic bags! Shop in BULK. Bring your own small bag or container to the supermarket and fill it with the food staples you want. If this is new to you, head to the supermarket when it isn’t that busy. After buying in bulk a few times, it becomes second nature!

BONUS TIP: Always carry a jar/container with you for coffee, tea, all other beverages, takeout, leftovers! My favorite jar is from Ancolie in New York City. I always have at least 1 Ancolie jar on me at all times!

I hope you enjoyed these tips and that you’re ready to join me and millions of others!

 

YOU and WE can make a difference with small tweaks to our everyday routines. These changes make for a healthier you and healthier planet.

 

Let me know how I can help: @abbysfoodcourt.