31 Swaps for Plastic Free July

My brain is still in March, but the calendar insists I'm mistaken. Whether you want to accept the rapid advance of time this year or not, it's July. It's Plastic Free July, in fact, so here are 31 suggestions on ways you can reduce your plastic use.

  1. BYOB. If your tap water is drinkable, fill your own water bottle at home to stay hydrated all day without having to resort to plastic bottles. You not only save the planet, but you also save money.
  2. Remember to take your shopping bags with you. Nobody wants to pay for what is essentially trash so bring your reusable bags and save yourself 10p.
  3. Regular dish sponges are made from plastic and take roughly 400 years to degrade. Not only that, but they release microplastics into the water supply. There are several cloth, coconut, wood or vegetable fibre options for your usual dish sponge or brush.
  4. Solid dish soap or refillable washing up liquid will save all those squeezy bottles from landfill.
  5. Dishwasher tablets and pods are often contained in dissolvable polyvinyl alcohol, a plastic. Try dishwasher powder in cardboard or refillable liquid.
  6. Laundry detergent pods are the same. Aim for powder, liquid or soapnuts. If it's refillable, even better.
  7. Shampoo and conditioner bars last longer than bottles, take up less space and make less mess. I love Lush for mine, but there are loads of companies making them for every hair type.
  8. A bar of soap is just as anti-bacterial as the liquid stuff and lower waste. If you can't live without liquid soap, make sure it's refillable.
  9. Many teabags contain plastic so aren't biodegradable. Switch to loose leaf.
  10. Coffee pods are a single-use plastic that can't be recycled conventionally. Find a method of refilling your pods or dig your french press out the cupboard.
  11. Fruit and vegetables are often sold in unnecessary packaging. Opt for loose produce and use cloth or mesh produce bags or dump them straight into your shopping bag.
  12. Bread bags can be recycled in certain locations, but it's also possible to get yours straight from the in-store bakery without wrapping. Or, you could bake your own.
  13. Grow your own herbs instead of buying plastic-wrapped portions. If you don't have the space (or patience) look out for loose or paper-wrapped herbs.
  14. Tampons and disposable period pads contain plastic. Try reusable period products like a cup, sponge, washable pads or period underwear.
  15. Makeup remover wipes are not only bad for your skin, they contain plastic, too. Use scraps of cloth or reusable rounds with makeup remover, cleansing oil or balm.
  16. Coffee shops are accepting reusable cups again so don't forget yours when you go out for a latte.
  17. While plastic straws are banned in some countries, they're available in others. Paper straws are better than plastic but not without consequence; especially since some are made with laminated paper so don't biodegrade. Bring your own bamboo, silicone or steel straw.
  18. If you're ordering food to go, remember to tell your server that you don't want cutlery. Pack your own (a knife, fork and spoon from home are best, but there are picnic-style sets available) so you don't end up eating salad with your fingers!
  19. Ask your favourite restaurant if you can provide your own containers for takeout food. If you can't, make sure to reuse the containers you get. 
  20. Instead of using clingfilm on your leftovers, cover them with a clean tea towel or wax wrap. A bowl with a plate on top works just as well, too.
  21. We change our toothbrush every three months: that's a lot of plastic waste. Bamboo toothbrushes are biodegradable and widely available. If you use electric, look into recyclable replacement heads.
  22. Toothpaste tubes aren't generally recyclable so try tooth tablets or find toothpaste in jars or metal tubes instead. Some companies now use recycled ocean plastic to make their tubes, which is a good alternative, too. 
  23. Choose a refillable fountain pen and stop using disposable plastic ones. 
  24. Spiral-bound or glued notebooks contain plastic. Opt for stitched notebooks and make sure you finish one before you buy another!
  25. Synthetic fabrics in clothing release microplastics into our water. A Guppyfriend or Cora Ball can help catch those fibres. Look for 100% natural fabrics when you buy clothes.
  26. If you have a refill store near you, take advantage of it with your own containers. If not, try to buy dry goods in bulk when you can afford to. 
  27. If you have a refill store near you, take advantage of it with your own containers. If not, try to buy dry goods in bulk when you can afford to.
  28. If you can't buy in bulk, pasta, rice and noodles can be found in cardboard boxes, and sugar and flour can be purchased in paper bags. Shop around.
  29. Chewing gum contains plastic. Change to xylitol mints for dental health or find a plastic-free gum like Peppersmith or Chewsy.
  30. Glitter, the herpes of the craft world. If you think glitter hangs around in your clothes and carpet, just imagine how it affects the ocean. Find biodegradable options. 
  31. Even sticking plasters (band-aids) contain plastic. Patch plasters are plastic-free and even come in cute designs.
  32. Cosmetics don't just come in plastic tubes, many also contain plastics in the formula. They're used to control consistency, longevity, hold and appearance of products so read in the ingredients before you buy.

Images from Unsplash and Canva

Take small steps to reduce plastic in your home and before you know it, you'll have reduced your waste significantly. Every swap makes a difference.

What changes will you make for Plastic Free July?