Plastic Free July

June is almost over (how is 2018 flying by so quickly?!), which means it’s almost time for Plastic Free July. Plastic Free July was started in Australia in 2011 but has since grown to become a worldwide movement. The goal? To reduce plastic use AND improve recycling systems. There are some areas where I am rocking the plastic-free life (refusing straws, disposable cups and cutlery, plastic wrap), but others where I can definitely improve (junk food being the main culprit). I plan to document my experience throughout plastic free July with a recap each Sunday. So what am I focusing on during the month?

1: Plastic Audit

I’ve been meaning to do a trash audit throughout my entire zero waste experience. Because so much of my trash gets discarded in different parts of my life (work, home, on the road, boyfriend’s house, etc.) I’m sure I create far more waste than I intend to. Rather than focusing on trash, this month I plan on focusing on my plastic use. Thanks to the invention of recycling, we have become overly reliant on a system that can’t handle all our recycling. I want to see how much of each type of plastic I use during the month.

Mine and my roommate’s recycling. Just because plastic can be recycled doesn’t mean we should use it.

2: Junk Food

One of the biggest downfalls to my zero waste life is junk food. There is always candy in my office, and as much as I’d like to avoid it, I usually end up eating multiple pieces of fun-sized candy per week. I think this will be easy if I plan ahead because there are plenty of bulk candy options at Fred Meyer and Marlene’s. Of course, the best thing to do would be to forego sweets altogether, but that just isn’t realistic now is it. I also want to apply this to bottled beverages and bags of chips (which I still eat more than I’d care to admit). On the healthier side of things, I’d like to try baking my own bread this month since it’s one of the few things I still regularly buy in plastic.

3: Remember my travel tin

A few months back I purchased a tiffin from To-Go Ware. Tiffins are great because they are a stainless steel food container that you can pack food in instead of plastic. I’ve used this a few times to transport leftovers home from restaurants, but honestly, I forget it most of the time. My goal is to leave this in my car throughout the month so that if I eat out, I can use my tiffin instead of plastic or styrofoam to-go containers. I also would like to try a to-go trick used by other zero wasters by ordering my food to eat-in then immediately packing the food in my personal to-go container as a zero waste way to take the food to-go. I don’t think this option will work everywhere, but I’d like to try it at least once during the month.

My trusty tiffin!

4: Replace current plastic purchases

There are a few things I know I’ll need to replace over the course of July (like toilet paper and foundation). I think that means it’s finally time to order TP from Who Gives A Crap¬†and to order full-size products from Elate Cosmetics. I’ve also recently stocked up on some other essentials (like deodorant and toothpaste), some of which are plastic free. While I won’t need to buy these during the month, I’d like to look into some plastic-free alternatives. As part of my overall plastic inventory, I want to look at all the different ways I use plastic during the month and see where I can make changes (and alternatively give myself kudos for places I’ve already kicked the plastic habit).

5: Vacation Plastic Free

I’ve got a couple of trips planned with my boyfriend during July, both of which could end up being tricky in the zero waste department. We’ll be going camping mid-month, but can hopefully camp plastic free if we plan ahead. At the end of the month, I’ll also be going on his family reunion. I don’t know how the event will be waste-wise, and while I’ll try to refuse plastic when possible, this will also be my first time meeting the majority of the people there. I’m going to be mindful of not making too much of a fuss at someone else’s family gathering. The reality is, we live in a world full of plastic which, in my mind, means sometimes we just have to deal with it.

I’m really looking forward to my first Plastic Free July! I hope that through this process I can learn more about my plastic usage, find great alternatives to plastic, and develop habits that will extend beyond the month. Are you doing Plastic Free July? If so, what are your goals for the month?

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