You may have heard of Plastic Free July, a global movement encouraging people to reduce their plastic waste to zero for a whole month. Not only is the Plastic Free July Challenge a wonderful chance to take a bite out of our global waste, but it also helps to educate people about the hazards of single-use plastic and steps we can take to eliminate it from our lives. I suggest you visit the Plastic Free July site to sign up for whatever level you're comfortable with, but, in the meantime, I've created a brief How To Guide to get you started.
Plastic Free at the Store
The easiest way to reduce your plastic waste is to not bring it home to begin with. I wrote about low waste grocery shopping recently, and we offer lots of advice on our Trash/Recycle/Compost page, but the basics of low waste grocery shopping are this - choose unpackaged foods and snacks, bring your reusable shopping bags and produce bags, and choose refillable foods whenever possible. When it comes to plastic free shopping more generally, pay attention to the packaging products are wrapped in and the materials they are made of and make informed choices.
Plastic Free in The Kitchen
Nows the time to finally ditch the plastic wrap, ziplock bags, and other plastic products. Beeswrap and other cloth covers work to cover food; reusable ziplock bags work better than disposable ones; and glass containers are a more sustainable and efficient way to keep foods hot and cold. Learning to cook using unpackaged and bulk ingredients will help to reduce the plastic coming into your home from the store.
Plastic Free in the Bathroom
Personally, I have a really simple plastic-free bathroom routine, which you can read about here, but everyone has different needs, so I very much recommend visiting your local low waste store to learn all about the plastic-free products they offer. Soap, shampoo, shave, and conditioner bars, tooth tabs, compostable toothbrushes, and metal razors are all easy switches that put a good dent in your plastic total.
A Plastic Free Closet
We write a lot about shopping second-hand whenever possible, and choosing organic and natural fabrics whether you're buying new or used. Nylon, polyester, and fleece all contain plastic and, when you wash them, release microplastics into your wash water. They will never break down or compost like natural fabrics and should be avoided whenever possible.
Plastic Free on the Go
It takes some getting used to and some advanced planning, but you can avoid a lot of plastic by carrying a low waste travel kit with you when you leave the house. This will help you say no to coffee cups, straws, and paper napkins, among other disposables. You can also bring glass containers with you when you go to restaurants to bring home leftovers (to eat, compost, or feed to your chickens).
Speak Out and Share Your Plastic Free Journey
As consumers, it's our responsibility to show companies that we care about what their products are made of and packaged in. It only takes a few minutes of your time to share your thoughts on excess packaging and material choice. Companies really do care what people say about their products on social media, so speak your mind. And, while you're at it, share about your plastic free journey in a positive way to inspire others to join the movement.
Stay green, NH!