How to get ready for Plastic-Free July
What is the plastic-free July anyway?
Plastic-free July is a global movement, started in Australia in 2011. The aim of the campaign is to get millions people on board to commit to give up single use plastics during the month of July. Sounds scary and difficult? Have a look on those few tips on how to get ready for plastic-free July. And remember, that the most important rule is to try and make a single step towards the goal.
Audit your garbage
As weird as it sounds, we should start with auditing our garbage. In order to reduce our waste, we should know where do we produce it the most. There are two ways you can do it. One option is to wait till your bin is full, then put your gloves on, and start digging in. Make a paper list what is there - is it mostly food waste? Kitchen waste? Plastic packaging? Beer bottles? Paper Towel? Count quantities. Second option is (more pleasant) - when your garbage is empty, prepare a notebook next to your bin. Every time you throw something out, note what it is and the quantity (including recycling). Do it until your garbage is full.
Decide where you create the most waste
Once you make an audit of your garbage bin, you can now see where do you create the most waste. Based on that, make a decision where to start and what should you work on first. It's difficult to turn your lifestyle upside down at once and change all your habits overnight. That's why, have a look where do you produce the most waste and start from there.
Make a commitment
Make your personal goal for plastic-free July. It can be something easy like replacing one of your top five waste items from your garbage audit. More advanced option is to go plastic-free entire week or month. Get creative! Maybe your goal is to produce only a jar of garbage this July or minimize your waste only in the kitchen, but focus on that 100%.
To make your commitment stronger, on the website below you can sign up for plastic-free challenge. It can be either a day, week, month or a lifetime! Apparently, if you tell other people about the challenge or join bigger group it is more likely that you will actually succeed. This website is also and excellent source of helpful tips or videos.
Use up what you have
If there is any item that you want to replace, don't throw out what you have and use it up first. For example, if you already bought single-use plastic zip lock bags, use them as much as you can. Instead of throwing them out after single use, try to wash them and use them again for example for freezing. Don't throw them out just because you decided to go plastic-free this month. It's more sustainable to use what you have than buy a new thing.
Start composting and recycling
More and more cities provide green cart program which is basically a composting program through city facilities. Check with your municipality if your city provides that and start composting. For me, using the green cart provided was the easiest option. All I had to do was start separating food waste from a regular garbage. Did you actually know, that City of Calgary has claimed producing 50% less garbage since implementation of green cart program. Yay to that. Other option for you is to start you own compost and use it up for your gardening needs. Not so many people know but compost bin should be also set in your washroom... Why is that? Cause hair, nails (blah I know...), paper tissues, cotton balls, cotton & bamboo q tips (click here to check them out) can actually be composted.
As for recycle, I have one simple rule. I google every single item that looks like recyclable but I am not sure of it. Two reasons behind this is that every city has different requirements for recycling and there are also several places where you can recycle 'unrecyclable' items for exams through Terracycle program or in London Drugs shops (Canada).
Here is the City of Calgary website: City of Calgary Blue Cart
Some info on Terracycle recycling: Drop off Locations
Make to go box in your car
Make a simple plastic-free to go box and put it in your car for everyday use. It can be as simple as tote bag, produce bags, set of cutlery, to go cup and tapware box. Those items will help you reduce lots of waste when travelling or while out and about in the city. Instead of picking up single use plastics such us cutlery or plastic shipping bag, you will always have emergency zero waste kit in your car.
Replace 3 top single use plastic in the bathroom
Make your first step and once you use up what you have, replace 3 items (or more, but 3 top is already lots!) in your bathroom that based on your garbage audit (or based on your memory!) produce a lot unnecessary garbage. Here is a few example of the plastic-free replacements most of people start with. Those are easy swaps, they're good for you and the planet. Click on the name to check them out on our website and read more about each of them.
- shampoo bar - replace for shampoo in plastic packaging; high quality ingredients, very efficient
- soap - replace for shower gel in plastic packaging; vegan, natural ingredients, no packaging
- bamboo toothbrush - replace for plastic toothbrush (did you know that every toothbrush ever made is still on Earth!) - natural, compostable
- bamboo q tips - replace for plastic q tips; natural, compostable
- toothpaste tablets - compostable packaging, natural ingredients
Replace 3 top single plastic use plastics in the kitchen
Everybody's house is different, but in my house kitchen, right after bathroom, is the biggest source of single use plastics waste. Food packaging is the key here. To minimize waste try to always take your reusable bags with you or pack your food in boxes that are often available in big stores. If possible, buy in bulk and in bigger quantities (such as buying 20 kg of flour instead of 20 x 1 kg single packed). Visit local farmers markets to buy your veggies and fruits or order directly from the farmers. Focus on few items in your kitchen that generate the biggest amount of waste. Here are the few examples of kitchen swaps that will help you to reduce waste even further.
- beeswax wraps (or vegan) - replace for plastic foil; will keep you food fresh for longer with natural ingredients, compostable and natural
- dishwashing soap - replace for dishwashing soap in plastic bottle, no packaging, natural ingredients
- reusable bags and produce bags - replace for plastic single-use bags, certified cotton
- bamboo straw - replace for plastic straw, natural and compostable
Mark your progress
Show off! Tell friends! Text us! Be happy about achieving your small goals, don't worry if you fail and be proud of every, even small step you took towards plastic-free July or maybe even towards changing habits for good! Let us know if you use any of our products to help you go plastic-free this month. Also, if you have any questions, send us a message or comment under this post. We will try to help ya:)
P.S. You know that our Bday is actually in July? Keep an eye on emails and social media @thegreensterway to see how we will celebrate our anniversary.