Plastic-free July: 31 tips & tricks to reduce your plastic waste

#PlasticFreeJuly is a global movement that inspires millions of people to be part of the solution to plastic pollution, 250 million participants in 177 countries to be exact. The challenge is to refuse single-use plastics for the entire month of July, and hopefully forever!
PFJ Facebook Share Image 04

Tip N°1
Easy one first, refuse the straw!
Go without 👏, or there are so many options out there including stainless steel, bamboo, wheat, and glass, and even foldable reusable straws that you can easily keep in your purse, pocket or on a keychain!

💙 Recommended reading: Plastic, Paper, or Wheat (Hay) Straws


Tip N°2
Bring your own reusable coffee mug.
Paper coffee cups are not recyclable, and in addition they are fitted with a single use plastic lid. The best part is, a reusable mug will keep your drink hot much longer. Don't worry, reusable cups and containers are save!

💙 Recommended reading: Reusable containers safe during Covid-10 pandemic, say experts

Tip N°3
Bring your own reusable bags.
They come in all shapes and sizes, big ones to carry everything home, and even small produce bags for your fruits and veggies (no need to purchase the pre-packaged). Find a system that works well for you and create an habit of having one always with you.

💙 Recommended reading: How do reusable bags help the environment?

Tip N°4
BYO water bottle, simple as that!
Build the habit of carrying it around with you everywhere, and take it a step further by purchasing an environmentally friendly alternative such as a bottle made from steel, glass, or safe aluminum.

💙 Recommended reading: 7 Best reusable water bottles so you can ditch single-use plastic

Tip N°5
Find a local butcher, fish market and deli counter and BYO container.
Meat, fish and deli products are often sold on polystyrene trays and/or wrapped in plastic, which in most cases can not be recycled, so bringing your own container to your local shop of choice is the best thing you can do. You can find a map with restaurants and grocery stores that joined our BYO project here.

Tip N°6
Choose to refuse pre-packed bread, rolls and baked goods.Most local bakeries, farmers markets and even supermarkets have sections with freshly baked goods that are yet to be packaged. By heading along with your own reusable bread bag or containers, you can easily avoid single-use plastic packaging.

💙 Recommended reading: How to store bread without plastic


Tip N°7
Shave plastic free with a stainless steel razor, and a lathering shave bar.
A small investment into a razor, which over time saves you money as the replacement blades are much cheaper than the traditional plastic replacement heads. Also, safety razors work perfectly for both men and women.

💙 Recommended reading: Zero waste razor: s(h)aving the earth, one safety razor at a time

Tip N°8
Choose to refuse single-use plastic dental products.
Bamboo toothbrush, and toothpaste tablets are quite an easy switch! There is even dental floss in cardboard or glass packaging with silk thread that is generally plastic-free.

💙 Recommended reading: How to have a zero waste dental hygiene kit with 3 easy switches

Tip N°9
Bar soap! For everything!
Body wash? Bar soap. Face wash? Bar soap. Hand wash? Bar soap. Shampoo and conditioner–bars! You can even buy or make your own dishwashing ‘block’.

💙 Recommended reading: How (exaclty) to switch to bar soap

Tip N°10
Loose leaf tea.
Tea bags are unfortunately usually partly made out of plastic! You could find tea bags that are compostable, but to avoid waste all together use loose leaf tea, all you’ll need is a tea ball or another kind of steeping tool.

💙 Recommended reading: Zero waste tea, three ways

Tip N°11
Learn to say no to plastic cutlery with takeout and find restaurants and cafes that allow BYO or offer compostable container and cutlery options.

💙 Recommended reading: Why carrying your own fork and spoon helps solve the plastic crisis

Tip N°12
Store food without plastic?
It's possible!Wax wraps, silicone reusable bags, glass containers & jars for food storage.

💙 Recommended reading: How to store food without plastic for a zero waste kitchen

Tip N°13
Avoid cartons used for things like milk, juice, stock.
They are typically made with a combination of cardboard, plastic and foil, which is incredibly difficult to recycle. Find milk that comes in glass, or make your own nut/oat based milks at home. You can also make your own juice, and stock from veggie scraps.

💙 Recommended reading: Tetra Paks are 100% recyclable, but are they sustainable?

Tip N°14
Pay attention to what clothes you buy - they are full of plastic too.
If you must buy something new, avoid materials such as polyester, nylon, acrylic and polyamide. Every time we wash these materials they shed millions of plastic microfibers.

💙 Recommended reading: Zero waste laundry: preventing microfibers from flowing any further

Tip N°15
Buy less.
Being mindful of your purchases is a great way to reduce plastic waste overall. Borrowing or renting can be a great option as well!

💙 Recommended reading: People who try to be environmentally-friendly by buying less stuff are happier, study claims

Tip N°16
Plastic is a valuable thing.
Don’t let go of the plastic you already have (like bags, containers, tools, clothing, single-use items, etc...). Be creative: use and reuse it until it’s at the very end of its life.

💙 Recommended reading: Reuse: how to manage the plastics you already have

Tip N°17
Try natural loofah as bath and dish sponge.
You could even try to grow your own!

💙 Recommended video: How luffa sponges are made

Tip N°18
Periods can be plastic free, yes.
Try a menstrual cup, washable pads or padded underwear.

💙 Recommended reading: How to have a zero waste period

Tip N°19
Plastic free lip balm!It’s the easiest thing to DIY, or find one in a biodegradable paper tube or metal tin.

💙 Recommended reading: DIY zero waste and vegan lip balm

Tip N°20
Swap plastic-wrapped kitchen towels and paper tissues with old rags for cleaning, cloth napkins for eating and handkerchiefs for blowing your nose.

💙 Recommended reading: Ditch the paper products in your home to save money and live better (& be zero waste!)

Tip N°21
Try washable cloth diapers and reusable products for your baby.

💙 Recommended reading: 7 reusable items for the zero waste baby

Tip N°22
DIY cleaning products.
You can invest in glass spray bottles (or simply reuse plastic ones you already have), and find recipes to replace different types of cleaning products in your home. This means you also get to avoid harmful chemicals.

💙 Recommended reading: Tips ans recipes for DIY and zero waste cleaning

Tip N°23
Biodegradable phone case!
If you feel the need to protect your phone, why not go with a completely biodegradable option, such as one made from linseed plant waste?

💙 Recommended product: Eco friendly mobile cases

Tip N°24

Plastic swaps don’t have to look pretty or fancy... Remember that it is not about aesthetics, it’s about making better decisions.

💙 Recommended reading: Why zero waste living isn't an aesthetic

Tip N°25
Educate yourself on the story of plastic: production, consume, recycling, impact.

💙 Recommended documentary: The story of plastic

Tip N°26
Pet care.
Rather than picking up after your dog using a single-use plastic bag, you can use compostable bags or even scrap pieces of paper, newspaper, or paper bags. Be sure to buy pet food that comes in paper bags or tins which can be recycled. Also, compostable cat litter is a thing! The list goes on...

💙 Recommended website: The zero waste pet: sustainable pet care simplified

Tip N°27
No more balloons!
Plastic and single use party decorations should be a thing of the past. Try getting creative with dried fruit, stuff you already have, or joining a community or group where you can share reusable decorations.

💙 Recommended inspiration: Zero waste // holiday

Tip N°28
Inspire friends, family and co-workers! Have conversations with those around you, explain the importance of reducing the unnecessary plastic in our lives, and show them through your own commitment!

💙 Recommended reading: How to encourage others to be zero waste


Tip N°29
Conduct a “Plastic audit” on your life.
Make note of how and where you are using plastic the most, make a plan of how to reduce it!

💙 Recommended reading: How to conduct a trash audit at home

Tip N°30
Plastic free writing utensils and notebooks for work and school.
One option is to go digital. There are many great calendar and notebook apps. Otherwise you can invest in pens made of better materials (grass?!) with refillable options and recycled paper notebooks, or even stone!

💙 Recommended products: Eco friendly stationery & office supplies

Tip N°31
Be mindful of where you shop, which companies you invest in. Where you choose to spend your money is a vote for the kind of future that you want, and we need to be investing in the companies that want to shape the future in a plastic free way.