7 Easy Ways to Participate in Plastic Free July

Single use plastics are literally taking over our world. Almost everything we use comes wrapped in some type of plastic film.  The majority of plastics cannot be recycled..   The Plastic Free July initiative was started in Australia in 2011, to bring awareness to the problems we face with plastic and to educate people on how we can reduce our plastic consumption.  Now more than two million people participate from 159 different countries.  With the idea of zero-waste taking off, this  challenge is educating people all over about reducing their plastic use.

Taking part in the Earth Day community clean up and removing an entire garbage bag of trash from the sidewalks and parking lots near our house.

This year my family is doing our part to reduce plastics.  The best part about this challenge, is you can customize it to your lifestyle.  Some people may feel they are able to 100% commit to eliminate all plastics, while others figure out ways to make it work for them. On Earth Day I shared how my family reduces our waste through some simple changes.  Click here to read about it.  For Plastic Free July, we are taking it a step further.  Here is a list of things we will be doing to reduce our plastic consumption this month and hopefully beyond.

Always bring our water bottles
We are pretty good as a family about always bringing at least one water bottle when we are out.  My son is obsessed with the $0.25 water bottles at Costco and we usually let him buy one when we are there.  To change this, we spoke with him about how much better for the environment it is to refill his own bottle at the fountain down by the bathrooms.  To make sure we aren’t stuck out somewhere without water, we have pledged to bring one full bottle of water for each person with us.
Get the baby back into her cloth diapers
The clothesline filled with adorable cloth diapers. Line drying cloth is amazing for stain removal and extending the lifespan of the diapers
With my son, he used cloth diapers from 6 to 18 months.  This experience gave me the confidence to put my daughter in cloth diapers at two months.  She used them from 2 to 6 months then problems happened.  At 6 months, she had horrible eczema, a yeast diaper rash and we discovered her food allergies.  In that moment, I threw in the towel on cloth, as I had so much going on with her.  I recently stripped and bleached the diapers and decided to put her back in them for the time we are home this month and see how it goes.  She is 15 months now so we only have a few more diapering months, if she potty learns early like her brother.
Refuse plastic straws
Doddlebags to feed my children’s applesauce addiction. Abeego wraps to remove the need for cling wrap products. Stainless steel straws to replace single use disposable straws.

In preparation for this month, I purchased paper straws to keep in the car and silicone straws to keep in my bag for the kids.  Plastic disposable straws are a huge problem.  You literally use them for 5 minutes and they take 500 years to break down.  Both of my kids love drinking with a straw, so having better alternatives will still allow them their fun but be better for the environment.  I prefer my stainless steel straws, and I have pledged to keep one in my bag.
Use reusable squeeze pouches for snack
When my daughter started her peanut immunotherapy treatment, it required a lot of apple sauce.  Her peanut dose is mixed with apple sauce, so we go through a good amount each week.  This began her addiction to little apple sauce squeeze pouches.  I really couldn’t stand the amount of garbage these little pouches produced so I looked for an alternative.  This is when I was introduced to Doddlebags, the reusable, dishwasher safe pouches.  I was immediately sold.  They have the same style spout and cap and a zipper side where you can spoon in whatever squeezable snack your kids love.  This small change has made a huge difference in our garbage output.  Now to convert her to homemade applesauce….
Start using beeswax wraps
In my search for plastic alternatives, I came across Abeego beeswax food wraps.  Luckily, my local group co-op ran a buy on these, so I was able to get a discount on these wraps.  I don’t usually reach for plastic wrap in the kitchen, but my fiance is guilty of this.  I am hoping to convert him with beeswax wraps so we can get rid of the plastic cling wrap all together.
Reduce the amount of iced coffee cups
Having zero waste take along items is one of the best ways to reduce plastic. Here is my water bottle and reusable coffee mug.

This literally will be the hardest change for me.  Summer means iced coffee and I am a total McCafe addict.  To make it even more appealing, they are only $1 all summer.  I am giving homemade iced coffee a chance using my french press and limiting my McCafe to once or twice a week.  The point of Plastic Free July is to reduce as much plastic as possible, but with swapping out the disposable straw and recycling the cup, I feel OK about recycling one cup a week.  Furthermore, I am writing to McDonald’s to suggest they come out with a reusable mug or cup that can be purchased at the beginning of summer and reused for $1 coffees all summer.
Keeping a container in the car for stray litter
With two small kids, I don’t often think about picking up other people’s litter.  On Earth Day, my kids and I participated in a community clean up event and had lots of fun.  This month, we are going to try to pick up at least three pieces litter at every playground or public space we visit.  My son has added this to his goal list for his summer reading club, so he is excited to get a point towards his prizes each time he does this.

I hope reading these small changes and swaps will inspire you to do more research into Plastic Free July and the zero waste movement.  There are countless resources and tips available on the Plastic Free July website.  Click the link and see just how easy it can be to go plastic free.

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