It’s the most wonderful time of the year – during Plastic Free July, people around the world band together and pledge to eliminate our insidious single-use plastic habit.
The campaign started in 2011 as a small, local effort in Australia and since has gained momentum across the entire world. Millions of people now participate by making sustainable changes during #PlasticFreeJuly and carrying forward these habits as the new normal.
A quick search of #PlasticFreeJuly on Twitter and Instagram brings up plenty of inspiration, from community beach cleanups to quick tips on how to practice a plastic-free lifestyle. We’ve rounded up our favourites below.
Morrisons roll out paper bags
Morrisons introduced paper bag alternatives in some stores earlier this year and began rolling them out nationwide in May. They’ve received a lot of praise and support during Plastic Free July, with plenty of customers showing their appreciation for a reusable, recyclable option.
Made from paper from sustainable forests, they’re water resistant and cost 20p, the same as the standard plastic carrier bags.
4Ocean bottle cap challenge
We already love most things 4Ocean does, so it’s not surprising that their #bottlecapchallenge is our favourite submission to the viral competition.
The organization has successfully removed over 5 million pounds of trash from the ocean and coastlines, funded by the sale of products like their bracelets and water bottles (which are made from recyclable materials). Needless to say, they have a slightly different approach to the whole #bottlecapchallenge – check it out.
Plastic becomes an artistic cry for change
Two whale sculptures have been positioned outside of the Hungarian Parliament buildings in an attempt to raise awareness for the government’s failure to ban single-use plastic bags. Greenpeace assembled the statues, which picture two whales (made from recyclable materials) emerging from a mess of plastic waste.
They’ve been put there in hopes that it’ll force Hungary to implement sustainable practices and follow the examples set by neighboring countries like Austria and Romania.
Shelves emptied rapidly at Holland and Barret
Shelves at Holland and Barret were swept clean in 48 hours after the health store introduced Ethique beauty products, which are plastic-free shampoo, body wash and moisturizer bars. After they sold out in record time, 55,000 people signed up for the waitlist ahead of the second launch.
Based in New Zealand, everything Ethique creates is plant based, cruelty-free, and entirely biodegradable. Plus, their products are well-loved and last for 2-5 times as long as bottled products. Hey, H&B – sign us up, too!
Better options in Boots
Boots has recently expanded its sustainable offering with the introduction of Friction Free Shaving products. The eco-friendly, cruelty-free shaving brand offers an alternative to plastic razors and was the first company to roll out a metal handle that is designed exclusively for women.
Friction Free Shaving originally launched as a monthly subscription service, delivering blade replacements every month. Customers also have the option to return the blades to be recycled by FFS to further reduce plastic waste.
Now that’s what we call a smooth move.
How to go #PlasticFree forever
Plastic Free July is a wake-up call. It forces us to take a look around and realize how much single-use plastic we come across in our daily routines. Once we’re aware of the waste we’re contributing to, we can begin making sustainable changes.
And these changes don’t end after July 31.
The Plastic Free July site has a comprehensive list of ways you can cut single-use plastic out of all avenues of life, from your kitchen to your workplace. We’ve listed some of our go-to practices below:
Arm yourself against plastic
Ditch the plastic bags, bottles, containers, straws, and packaging and choose sustainable alternatives (such as cloth bags, reusable bottle, glass containers, metal straws, and wax paper).
Be prepared to say “no”
It’s incredibly difficult to get away from single-use plastic, but try to avoid it as much as possible.
Don’t buy products that are wrapped in layers of unnecessary packaging, don’t support cafes that don’t have a sustainable alternative, and don’t be afraid to walk away from purchases or situations that are smothered in single-use plastic.
One of our favourite parts of looking at #PlasticFreeJuly posts is seeing the different ways that people across the world have called out businesses that aren’t meeting their expectations.
From highlighting unnecessary packaging in local supermarkets to returning piles of garbage to the actual stores, people are taking steps to show bring the plastic problem into focus.
Why @sainsburys is it cheaper to buy Whiskas cat food wrapped in plastic than to buy individual tins? Surely I shouldn’t have to pay extra for less packaging?! @HughFW @aplastic_planet #PlasticFreeJuly #WarOnPlastic pic.twitter.com/yNxviv5Ik0— Smartie (@smartse85) July 15, 2019
If you notice that your local businesses are falling short and spot room for change, consider asking to speak to the manager and ask whether they’ve considered alternatives to single-use plastic.
Looking back on another successful #PlasticFreeJuly, we’re happy to note that the mentality has spread across all months of the year. Find out about which brands have promised to take up the cause and learn more about how you can reduce your own impact.