Plastic-free July is here! The campaign started 10 years ago, and today has 200 million participants in 177 countries. The goal is to reduce single-use plastics as much as you can, and to inspire others to do the same. Join now the global movement that rejects disposable plastic for a month (and beyond?) with these easy-to-adopt plastic-free July activities.
There’s so much plastic in your live. Where do you start?
The answer is simple: with one piece at a time. Choose an item that is easy to reject or replace, for example the plastic straw. Straws are (mostly) unnecessary and can be given up quickly. Alternatively, bring your own reusable straw to the bar or restaurant. There are great alternatives made of glass, bamboo, or steel that fit in every handbag.
After you’ve given up the straw, you can declare war on the plastic bag by taking a reusable shopping bag with you. I have three of them in my purse. They are lightweight, take up almost no space, and I always have them at hand when I need one.
The next step is to replace the plastic water bottles with reusable stainless steel bottles, which you refill at home and take with you when you're out and about. Carrying a steel bottle around with you is a little more difficult than carrying a light shopping bag or straw, because steel bottles are heavier and more bulky than plastic bottles. On the other hand, you save a lot of money because you can just fill it with tap water over and over again and never have to buy plastic bottles again. I have steel bottles in 3 different sizes, 1l, 0.5l and 0.3l and I choose the right one depending on how long I am on the road.
Note: In most areas, tap water is safe to drink but may still contain chemicals, pharmaceutical residues, or chlorine. If you are afraid to drink tap water, I recommend a plastic-free water filtration system which removes 99.99 percent of bacteria, viruses, pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, sedates, chlorine, etc. from your tap water. Have a look at my list of the best plastic-free water filters.
Having done that, you can move on to a reusable coffee mug. It is also a bit unhandy, but it is worth it, because coffee mugs are not recyclable. In addition, many coffee shops already offer a discount if you bring your own cup. It is worth asking.
If you came this far, you have already come a long way towards a life without disposable plastic. You should be proud of yourself! And as you can see, it’s not that difficult to get active.
All you have to do is start. Join the Plastic-Free July initiative and take up the challenge here. The challenge helps you become single-use plastic-free by offering a range of plastic-free July activities. The community will help you take one small step at a time. Talk to people. Find a plastic-free July event near you. Just like Fridays for Future, Plastic-free July is growing, and there is sure to be a like-minded group in your area. If there isn’t, join a Facebook group. You’ll find plenty of inspiration there.
Once you start, you will soon discover other single-use plastic products that you can easily replace. And then more, and more. Believe me, once you have set out on the road to a more eco-conscious, healthy, plastic-free life, you won't be able to stop. Then the time has come to involve others, for example at work, at your children’s school, or in your local community. The possibilities for getting involved are endless.
You can, for instance, start a petition to get your local government to ban plastic bags. Several cities around the globe have become or are about to become plastic-free and/or zero waste. Why not your city as well?
Or why not organize a plastic-free event yourself?
You can also invite a few neighbors to a plastic-free garden party.
Inspire others by being inspired yourself. There are so many ways to start your plastic-free journey (it gets more complicated as you progress).
Of course, you can never really be 100% plastic-free, because plastic is just everywhere. What counts is that you start. The steps you take now, the small changes you make, all your plastic-free July activities, will collectively make an enormous difference.
Try a few of my suggestions and let me know what you've accomplished - or with what you struggle.