How to take the Plastic Free July challenge
PUBLISHED: 16:20 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:26 17 July 2018
If you’re choosing to refuse single-use plastic here are some alternatives
We’ve all seen it. The video of a turtle desperately trying to make its nest on a plastic-strewn beach.
It’s images like those that have inspired my family - and lots of others - to take up the Plastic Free July challenge.
If you too are going to choose to refuse single-use plastic this month, here’s my A-Z guide on some of the alternatives you could be using.
Alternatives to milk
If you use dairy alternatives, such as soya and nut milk, try making your own rather than buying the cartons.
Ditch sandwich bags and use beeswax wraps for everyone’s lunch. These can be washed and used time and time again.
Another alternative for lunches are storage containers. Even if you use plastic tubs you already have, you’ll be cutting down on single-use plastic.
Whether you’re a spray or roll-on fan, deodorants in cardboard tubes are much more environmentally friendly.
When visiting a café, eat in instead of taking away and you’ll save using any packaging.
Invest in some reusable wipes for removing your makeup. You can get them for nappy changes too.
Give up gum
Not only is chewing gum wrapped in plastic, some brands contain it too. However, gum addicts should know there are plastic-free alternatives.
Household cleaning products
Fill your own bottles with washing up liquid, laundry liquid and more at a growing number of local charities and businesses.
Buy from local independents. If you use your own containers when buying products you’ll be saving the businesses money as well as helping the environment.
July and beyond
Why stop at the end of this month? Try making changes daily, weekly or monthly.
Keep and reuse
If you do get any new plastic items, reuse them for as long as you possibly can.
To save on plastic packaging, make your own liquid soap or use soap bars.
If you want a takeaway coffee but don’t have your own flask, some cafes are now offering a second-hand mug to take with you. Simply take it back next time – and perhaps some of your old ones too.
Nappies can take up to 200 years to decompose. If you’re not sure where to start with cloth nappies, get in touch with your local nappy library. They may be able to give you a demonstration and lend you a kit to try.
Oats and more
Some local businesses are selling loose oats, nuts and more which you can scoop into your own containers.
There are many ways to ensure you go plastic-free at that time of the month – menstrual cups and sponges, cloth sanitary pads and biodegradable products for example.
Challenge the status quo, whether that’s in your household or at local businesses you support.
Refill water bottles
Don’t buy bottled water when you’re out for the day. Take your reusable bottles and refill them instead. Many businesses are now offering free tap water.
Say no to plastic straws and take your own paper or stainless steel ones with you.
Toothbrushes can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. A more environmentally friendly alternative is a bamboo toothbrush.
Use what you have
It’s lovely to go out and buy things to help you go plastic-free, but actually it’s good to use what you have already have, like storage containers - even if they’re plastic - to get as much use from them as possible.
Buy fruit and veg from the market or greengrocer and most will provide paper bags or you can use your own bags of course.
Try using four tablespoons of baking soda in hot water instead of washing up liquid.
Although not single use, why not look for wooden toys, such as a xylophone, rather than plastic ones?
Don’t buy small pots of yoghurt, get larger pots or try making your own.
Head to local places where you know there are likeminded people. Some residents and businesses in Felixstowe, for example, are hoping the town becomes a plastic-free zone.
What changes are you making for Plastic Free July? Email me and let me know.
For other ideas on how to choose to refuse single-use plastic, go to www.plasticfreejuly.org