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Plastic Free July: How to Reduce Your Plastic Use

In yesterday’s post I mentioned Plastic Free July, and I realized that this is a great platform to help spread the word about this movement. Plastic Free July is a global movement to try to reduce the amount of single-use plastic in our daily lives, as well as to reduce the overall plastics in the environment. Although the focus is on the month of July, the hope is that the habits will stick, and there is good evidence to show that this is true. According to their website, in 2021, 140 million people from 190 countries took part in the plastic-free challenge, and 86% of participants have made changes that have become habits in their daily lives. That’s a lot of change right there!

There are a ton of resources and ideas on their website, but I thought I’d do a roundup of some of my favorites, and some that I’ve vowed to try this month.

-Stop/reduce drinking bottle water. This is an easy one! There are so many great water bottles and water filters on the market, and it just takes a little effort to fill them up and bring them with you in your car, to work, on your walk, on the plane, plus the water usually tastes better and stays colder than it does in a plastic bottle. There are reportedly 35 billion (!!!) plastic water bottles thrown away each year in the US alone, which is mind boggling. Only 12% of those are recycled. I forget to bring my water bottle sometimes, but I try, and I think this month is a great time to give that a little extra attention.

-Buy your produce naked and in bulk. It’s great if you can also buy other foods like grains and nuts in bulk, and use paper bags or reusable glass containers, but I know that’s a little more complicated in a lot of places. The produce is pretty easy, and it’s my pet peeve when it comes already wrapped in plastic. I know we have more access to farmer’s markets in California than in a lot of places, but that’s another great option.

-Bring your own shopping bags, or opt for paper bags and reuse (we also compost them at end of life). This took me a while to get the hang of, as I always forgot to put our grocery bags back in the car, but I have it down to an art now. Plus, my mom gave me a set of light and gorgous roll-up bags that I can keep in my purse, and those come in especially handy for unexpected shopping trips. The set I carry is here, and here is another pretty option.

-Try using wax wraps in your kitchen instead of plastic wrap. If you haven’t tried them, wax wraps are a pretty and easy (although sometimes slightly sticky) food wrap alternative, and there are tons of great options out there. A great way to use them is to have a pretty glass jar on your counter to hold them, which keeps them clean and accessible. They also make a great DIY project and a way to use your leftover fabric scraps – especially if it’s organic fabric! Here are a few tutorials (all featuring Monaluna fabric 🙂 )

From the Love Notions Blog
From the Mommypotamus Blog

-Take a look at your shopping cart and identify places where you tend to consume the most plastic, and then see if there are ways for you to reduce. For us, it’s yoghurt containers, milk, and then things like laundry detergent. We can buy our milk in cardboard, which is recyclable here, and sometimes compostable too, and then we decided to try making our own yoghurt in our Instapot. For the laundry detergent, we have started using laundry detergent sheets, which come in a paper package and take up much less space than a jug of liquid detergent.

-Another thing we’re going to try is bringing our own containers when we get take-out. Throughout the pandemic, we really stopped eating out much, but the one treat we kept was picking up sushi from our favorite spot. A few of their containers are compostable paper, but I always cringe at throwing away the plastic to-go boxes. We’ve decided to start bringing our own containers for take-out. I’m working on some products now that are perfect for this, but I think as long as the container is clean and appropriate, most places will pack your food in your own containers.

-Buy less. I know that seems obvious, but it’s remarkable how often I’ll pick something up that I think I might need without noticing how much plastic packaging its bundled in, only to realize I didn’t really need it to begin with. I’m going to make a concerted effort to really vet whether I need a thing before I buy.

-Ask your vendor to ship without plastic wherever possible. When I first started Monaluna, I would package most of my orders in a biodegradable plastic bag inside the cardboard shipping envelope. Over time, I realized that wasn’t necessary, and I switched my envelopes to completely biodegradable kraft paper with vegetable ink. Still, I was always happy when a customer made sure to request no plastic packaging. When you’re ordering online, many small vendors will happily send your order without plastic.

Okay, that’s a starting point, and some of the challenges I’m giving myself to celebrate Plastic Free July. I hope you’ll join me!

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