Plastic sucks—plain and simple. We should all know that by now.
But how the heck do we avoid the stuff? And what can we use instead?
We’re talking, beyond the obvious, like saying no to the darn straw already.
Inspired by Plastic-Free July—and with the help of our friends at Treehugger, our caring editors, and some of our dear readers—we’ve gathered our favorite personal weird little avoid-plastic tips. These are some of the hidden ways plastic creeps into our lives and some ninja tips and tricks to kick it to the curb. Well, not literally. (TerraCycle that sh*t!)
We’ve jam-packed our Planet Over Plastic Challenge with as many actually helpful, practical tips as possible, with shout outs for some of our fave eco companies doing it right—not because they paid us, or even know we mentioned ’em here, but because we genuinely love what they’re doing to help rescue this precious planet of ours from drowning in plastic.
Take one tip a day to stay inspired, informed, and empowered. Share the challenge with your friends, family, colleagues. Start a Planet Over Plastic group to keep each other pumped and accountable.
Even if you only manage to change 1 of these 31 things, you’ll have made a difference.
Planet Over Plastic Challenge, July 2019—One Tip a Day.
Monday July 1
1. Remember the Dang Bag!
Pack ‘em and stash ‘em—in your carboot, bike basket, handbag, anywhere and everywhere. And, for goodness sake, remember to take ‘em with you when you shop, every time, this month...and beyond. Shopping bags, produce bags, bread bags and bulk food bags—you can get 'em all at Onya Life.
Get All the Reusable Bags you Need
Tuesday July 2
2. Bring Everything but the Kitchen Sink.
Avoid plastic utensils by getting a bamboo set or spork, or wrap a set of silverware in a handkerchief. And don’t forget your reusable cups, mugs, or bottles. Grab everything you need at Eco Products.
Stock Up on Eco Utensils
Wednesday July 3
3. Make your Own Condiments.
Make your own cucumber or zucchini relish. Chocolate sauce, mustard, and mayonnaise are quick and simple to make once you get the hang. Everything can be kept in glass jars.
Make your Own Probiotic Hot Sauce
Thursday July 4
4. Light your Fire, Plastic-Free.
Use matches instead of disposable plastic lighters or invest in a refillable metal lighter to light your barbeque or bonfire today. Avoid the fireworks though, because: four-legged friends and pollution.
Vegan 4th of July Recipes
Friday July 5
5. Ditch Plastic Bin Liners.
When it comes to cleanup, say no to the bag. Recycle whatever you can (using responsible options like TerraCycle), compost food waste, and just rinse your landfill bin every so often. Or use newspapers, jute bags, or compostable bin liners.
Join the Zero Waste Party: 10 Ways
Saturday July 6
6. Boycott Bathroom Products Bottled in Plastic.
Use up what you have, use responsible recycling options, and commit to caring, eco brands in future: think shampoo bars, shower-proof paper bottles like the ones our friends at Seed Phytonutrients make. Use refillable dispensers. Get back to the basics and use a big ol' jar of coconut oil, jojoba, or almond oil. Or for 100% plastic-free options, Ethique are the bomb!
Sunday July 7
7. Let This be The Final Straw.
There are so many awesome reusable straw options—from funky copper, aluminium, and glass, to bamboo—that you can afford to have a few stashes going on. You can even get a retractable metal straw for your keychain holder from The Final Straw!
The World's Most Advanced Straw
Monday July 8
8. Bring your Own to Take Out.
Bring your own container for take-out or your restaurant doggy-bag since many restaurants use styrofoam. Even the cardboard take-out containers are usually lined with plastic. You could also chat to your favorite places about getting 100% biodegradable to-go containers. Green Paper Products stock 'em all.
100% Biodegradable To-Go Containers
Tuesday July 9
9. Go Eco on the Loo.
Either invest in a bidet-type set up and cut your use of TP entirely, or become a toilet-seat activist just by changing the brand of TP you use. We love Who Gives a Crap—they’re eco and help build toilets for those who need ‘em. 'Cause you shouldn’t have to wipe out forests to wipe your bottom!
Who Gives a Crap? We All Should!
Wednesday July 10
10. Stop Chewing Plastic, Go Natural.
Chewing gum is made from synthetic plastic, but it wasn’t always that way. The original idea came from Indigenous people who chewed tree resin. Chicle (or tree sap) is biodegradable, plastic-free, and chemical-free. Treehugger have a list of companies who make natural gum with it.
Where to Find All-Natural Gum
Thursday July 11
11. Fish Don’t Need to Brush their Teeth.
So, keep plastic toothbrushes outta the ocean by quitting ‘em already! While you’re at it, ditch those little floss on a plastic stick things. Go for bamboo and silk floss. We love WooBamboo and Radius for this!
100% Biodegradable Silk Floss
Friday July 12
12. Get Retro.
Go back to old-fashioned goodies like wooden cotton buds, beeswax or reusable paper wraps for lunch or leftovers, glass containers for dry food storage, and let’s hear it for tupperware parties! Get some glass jar grocery shopping inspiration on Treehugger.
Get Hooked on Glass Jars
Saturday July 13
13. To-Go Cups are Worse than Narcissists.
Plastic-lined to-go cups are bad for the planet and your body—probably your chakras too. Reusable is the way to go, but at least skip the lid and sleeve and stirrer. Better yet, drink coffee like an Italian: have it for here and sip mindfully. Or, if you really gotta run, get centered while you sip on the go, with Elephant's own Mindful Manifesto Klean Kanteen Eco Mug.
Get your Own Mindful Manifesto Mug
Sunday July 14
14. Pick It the F* Up!
Don’t just walk past litter; pick up that plastic bag blowing in the street, help those plastic wrappers straws find their way to the trash. You might just save some local wildlife along the way. Or volunteer to help Keep America Beautiful!
Help Keep America Beautiful.
Monday July 15
15. Ecobrick it.
Maybe the most fun you can have with plastic. Collect plastic drinks bottles (ones you didn’t use in the first place, of course!) and stuff ‘em full of clingfilm, straws, wrappers, plastic bags, whatever fits. Google “ecobricks” for more info on how to make and use ‘em. Pack ‘em in there real tight, until you have something you can build a wall, bench, or even a house with...seriously!
Learn More about Ecobricks.
Tuesday July 16
16. Clean Up your Laundry Act.
Use soap flakes, soap strips, or soap nuts instead of conventional laundry detergents that come in plastic-lined cardboard with plastic scoops or thick plastic jugs. They are truly awful for the planet. Look for a recyclable, repulpable, and compostable box for detergent packaging. Dropps are an awesome option, and they ship direct to your door.
Say Bye, Plastic Laundry Bottles!
Wednesday July 17
17. Beauty Can Be a Beast.
Pick your makeup wisely. Look for a certified organic brand which is vegan, cruelty free, and uses sustainable packaging. Antonym fits the bill and uses beautiful (and responsibly sourced) bamboo!
Eco Up your Beauty Toolkit.
Tuesday July 18
18. De-Plasticize your Workout.
Make your own sustainable exercise gear by cutting up old tees to make funky workout tank tops. Buy leggings without plastic, always remember your reusable water bottle, and if buying weights, yoga mat, or other equipment, go plastic-free.
Why Your Cute Leggings = Eco No!
Friday July 19
19. Bulk Up!
No, not in the gym this time. Purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins and fill a reusable bag or container. And go ahead and use your raw pasta for hot (or cold) drink stirrers!
10 Plastics to Give Up, Right Now.
Saturday July 20
20. Parents & Pawrents: Unite Against Disposables.
Ditch disposable diapers that’ll never go away and use cloth diapers (they're better for babies’ butts, too) to reduce your cutie’s carbon footprint and save money. Go for compostable poop bags when walking your four-legged loves.
The Green Diaper Dilemma.
Monday July 21
21. Become a Domestic God/Goddess.
Make your own cleaning products that will be less toxic and eliminate the need for multiple plastic bottles. Let baking soda, vinegar, water, and essential oils become your new best friends to clean, scour, and disinfect. You can also make your own personal care products, like DIY salt and sugar scrubs. Find recipes on Treehugger.
8 Homemade Body Scrub Recipes
Tuesday July 22
22. Sip Plastic-Free Tea (or Coffee).
Swap away from tea bags whenever possible because most have plastic packaging. Buy bulk or teabags without packaging. Pukka is one great brand that’s 100% plastic free. When shopping for coffee, look for bulk-buy, refillable options.
Will you Take Plastic in Your Tea?
Wednesday July 23
23. Cook more, Take-Out Less.
The more we cook, the less packaging we end up with. Avoiding convenience food items produces less plastic and other waste, is healthier, and pretty fun to do once you get going. Cooking is a great mindfulness practice, too!
Delicious (Veggie) Meals: 15 Tips
Wednesday July 24
24. Repurpose Over Donation.
The reality of clothing donations is not as simple and romantic as most of us think. Make dog toys/tug o’ war ropes, or tote bags out of old t-shirts. Turn stretchy clothing into hair ties, head bands, or bandeaus. Make sunglass cases, pen, straw, or silverware holders, or handkerchiefs out of soft fabrics. You can also never have enough rags.
The Truth about Clothes Donations
Friday July 25
25. Grow Your Own.
Grow seedlings for food or flowers instead of buying the ones in plastic pots from gardening centers. Get cuttings or source heirloom seeds, avoiding those in nurseries that are often GMO and come in plastic. Organize local barters or swap with friends who grow their own, too.
5 Reasons to Grow your Own
Saturday July 26
26. Reuse and Repurpose your Own Plastics.
90% of plastics never get recycled. If you are still using Ziploc bags, wash and reuse, ecobrick it (see 15), or get crafty with the kiddos. Read up on how recycling works or, actually, doesn't. Seek out companies like TerraCycle, who do things the right way, albeit a bit more expensively.
This is the Only Way to Recycle
Sunday July 27
27. Avoid the Worst Offenders.
Check the bottom of any plastic container and you’ll see a number (1 through 7) inside a triangle made of arrows. The worst, most toxic (to you and the environment) plastics are: #3 #6 and #7.
10 Tips for Lower Plastic Living
Monday July 28
28. Have a Clean Conscience.
Use natural cloths instead of plastic scrubbers. If you need something with scrubbing power, go for copper instead of plastic. Use a cotton dishcloth or a coconut coir brush for dishes, instead of a plastic scrub brush. Use cotton facecloths instead of disposable wipes. Don’t underestimate the versatility of old rags!
Zero Waste Cleaning & Laundry
Tuesday July 29
29. Don’t Chuck your Butts.
Dispose of cigarette butts in the bin (they are plastic and wash into the ocean or could get eaten by wildlife). Learn to field strip. Talk to your local authority about installing designated butt bins or banning smoking on beaches. Better yet (for you and the planet): give up, or switch to lower impact vaping options (not single use e-cigarettes) for the good of the planet.
“Let me pick up that butt for you"
Wednesday July 30
30. Have a Plastic-Free Period.
Go get yourself that menstrual cup! They’re not as scary as they seem. Easy to use, easy to clean, totally hassle-free for 12 hours at a time: win! Diva Cup have a range of sizes and offer a lot of support for the cup-phobic.
Join the Inner Revolution
Wednesday July 31
31. Eat Real Food.
Frozen, convenience, and junk foods are mega culprits for excessive packaging waste. Curb your plastic addiction without even trying by eating more real food, mostly plants: think fruits, veggies (don’t forget your mesh veg bags), legumes, nuts (buy in bulk)...This is one shopping habit that’ll slim down your waste and your waist!
8 Tips for Affordable Real Food
Download the Challenge!
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Ecofolks on Instagram
See relevant Elephant Video
Environmentalism 101 with Waylon Lewis.
The only way to make a change is to make a change.