Simple Tips to Ditch the Plastic & Celebrate Plastic Free July!

Mason jars are one of our absolute favorites here at SHE! Instead of plastic lids (or the metal ones that rust easily), we love using the bamboo lids from Mason Bar Company! Bamboo is an incredible sustainable resource and you are ditching the plastic! Win, win. 

Mason jars are one of our absolute favorites here at SHE! Instead of plastic lids (or the metal ones that rust easily), we love using the bamboo lids from Mason Bar Company! Bamboo is an incredible sustainable resource and you are ditching the plastic! Win, win. 

Happy July, SHE sisters! We love July… the fireworks, the warm summer nights, the fresh fruit… we’re glad it’s here and we hope you are too! One newfound thing we love about July is that millions of people around the world are now participating in “Plastic-Free July.” We’ve mentioned some of the dangers of plastic before on the SHE blog and some alternatives to plastic products, so we were excited to discover there was a whole month dedicated to going plastic-free and wanted to talk about it some more!

Plastic-Free July is primarily focused on cutting out single-use plastic. You can eliminate all single-use plastics, or just four of the biggest plastic offenders (and four of the easiest to switch out!): plastic bags, water bottles, straws, and coffee cups. You can sign up here to do it for a day, a week, or the whole month or simply learn more!

There are three things we believe firmly at SHE:

1. PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION: Eventually the goal is to live a completely free plastic lifestyle, but there are lots of baby steps we can all take to get there and there will always be moments in life that make perfection impossible. We're ok with that! We’ll be cheering you on every step of the way and publishing some blog posts to help you get to wherever your plastic free goals take you!

Saying no to one plastic straw, using one less plastic bag… it all matters and together our impact is massive!

2. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER: We want to empower you in your fight against plastic so we gathered up some key facts to share with you. Honestly, some of them shocked us.

  • In 2009, 1 out of every 10 pieces of trash picked up in the ocean was a plastic bag.
  • The Ellen MacArthur foundation estimates that there will be more trash in the ocean than fish by 2050 if nothing changes.
  • 16% of what you pay for a product goes to the packaging… which usually ends up in a landfill. More packaging-free, bulk stores are popping up! Keep an eye open for these opportunities!
  • When plastic enters the ocean, it begins to soak up pollutants dangerous to humans. Marine animals eat the plastic, and the pollutants are passed up the food chain until they’re consumed by humans. Yuck.
  • 90% of the plastic we use, we only use a single time. 
  • Plastic releases 14% of the most toxic chemicals released into the air in landfills.
  • Chemical additives used in packaging leak into the food and wind up in your body.
  • Plastic accounts for over 10% of household waste.
  • Chemicals in plastic mimic the hormone estrogen. These same chemicals have also been linked to birth defects and infertility.

3. WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER.  No use looking back over what you didn't know about. So… now that you know that plastic is harmful, what can you do about it? 

 Participate in Plastic Free July!

  • If you don’t want to go without plastic for the whole month, at least do it on July 3rd!  July 3rd is “International Plastic Bag Free Day.” So switch out your plastic bags for something reusable, and share a picture on social media!
  • Host a plastic-free BBQ! Have everyone bring their own plates, cups and silverware. This also is a conversation segway into the dangers of plastic.
  • Cook more. There are so many amazing perks of cooking at home, and once is how much less plastic is used. No carry out containers, no plastic straws, no plastic utensils. Be sure when buying ingredients to try and buy some without plastic wrapping!
  • Buy in bulk. For instance, buy a large container of yogurt instead of snack sized yogurt cups. It’s often cheaper per ounce, and there’s significantly less plastic.
  • You can check out the official Plastic Free July handy guide of action steps for more! Also, "10 Easy Tips for Living a Life With Less Plastic" is a great resource from Life Without Plastic

Like we said earlier, 90% of plastic products are only used once! That makes plastic bags, water bottles, straws, and coffee cups the biggest offenders.

Thankfully there are plenty of great companies out there to make the switch easier!

SWITCHING THE 'BIG 4' SINGLE USE PLASTICS OFFENDERS

1. BAGS

We’ve talked about plastic bags before! We love all of the bags The Tote Project has to offer, or this one from The Simply Co (check out their plastic free laundry detergent!). ECOBags also has a huge variety of bags, ranging from produce bags to canvas totes. Elisha C. also has a fun cross body bag that is perfect for hands free shopping at Farmer's Markets. The burlap bag made by 2nd Story Goods is made from recycled burlap coffee bags in Haiti. It's a double win! Using a reusable bag made from recycled goods! P.S. There is a convenient exterior cell phone pocket and it is lined with recycled fabric. 

The Tote Project's bag are sewn in India by women who have made the choice to journey out of the sex trade and into freedom, plus 20% of profits are donated to Two Wings to help survivors of human trafficking in the United States pursue their dreams. 

The Tote Project's bag are sewn in India by women who have made the choice to journey out of the sex trade and into freedom, plus 20% of profits are donated to Two Wings to help survivors of human trafficking in the United States pursue their dreams. 

2. BOTTLES

We also already talked about our favorite reusable, plastic-free water bottles here! If you’re following us on Instagram, we may be able to hook you up with a new water bottle… guess you’ll just have to follow and find out ;)

Pura Stainless are 100% plastic free! Most reusable water bottles have sneaky plastic lids or straws. Pura uses only food-grade stainless steel and silicone. 

Pura Stainless are 100% plastic free! Most reusable water bottles have sneaky plastic lids or straws. Pura uses only food-grade stainless steel and silicone. 

3. STRAWS

Americans use enough plastic straws every day to fill up 127 school buses. They’re in the top 10 products most littered, and contain BPA that leaks into your drink. Gross. Definitely head over to Life Without Plastic or Simply Straws or Mulled Mind and pick some up today! They’re easy enough to keep stashed in your purse, glove compartment, or kitchen drawer.

The makers over at Mulled Mind will custom make a reusable straw for you if you have a beloved reusable tumbler or container that just doesn't work with normal sizes! (Plus they have all the standard options). 

The makers over at Mulled Mind will custom make a reusable straw for you if you have a beloved reusable tumbler or container that just doesn't work with normal sizes! (Plus they have all the standard options). 

4. COFFEE CUPS

We love a good cup of jo (especially one by Cameron’s Coffee) and if it’s in a plastic free mug? EVEN BETTER. In the search for plastic-free travel coffee cups, we found that most mugs are plastic-free… it’s the lids that are the problem! Most companies either use BPA-free plastic or trade plastic for silicone in their lids. While silicone isn’t plastic, it doesn’t decompose in landfills either. We have yet to find a completely plastic and silicone free travel mug, but we do absolutely love our BPA free to-go cup from KeepCup, this #BreakFreeFromPlastic tumbler from Kleen Kanteen, and this tumbler from Life Without Plastic! We’ll keep you updated on our search, please let us know if you’ve found one yet!

We love the coffee tumblers and coffee mugs from The Created Co. Their clever, creative designs will have you inspired with every sip. If it wasn't so insanely unsustainable, we'd probably own one of each ; ) Instead we have fun gifting them! 

We love the coffee tumblers and coffee mugs from The Created Co. Their clever, creative designs will have you inspired with every sip. If it wasn't so insanely unsustainable, we'd probably own one of each ; ) Instead we have fun gifting them! 

When washing your plastic-free, reusable dishes we suggest some plastic-free soaps! For dish soap, we like this solid bar by Tandi or this dishwasher soap (it’s a soap not a detergent so it’s great for allergies) from. Making your own dish soap is also always an option!

Some of our favorite brands to help you out on your plastic-free journey this month are:

  • Life Without Plastic: They truly are your one-stop shop for all things plastic-free! Ranging from razors to produce bags, they’re a great shop to check out no matter where you’re at in your plastic-free lifestyle.
  • The Mason Bar Company: Everyone loves mason jars due to their versatility and their lack of plastic. If they’re not already your best friend, they’re going to be! The Mason Jar Company sells all sorts of accessories to turn your mason jars into to-go drinks, storage containers, salt and pepper shakers… without plastic!
  • ECOBags. They have an alternative for any plastic bag you could ever use. Produce bag? They got it. Normal plastic bag? They got it. Travel bags? They got it. And they usually have everything in multiple styles.

Don’t worry- this is just the beginning of the list! We’ll have lots more for you soon.

Wow, we know that that was a lot of information. While it might seem overwhelming at first, every little change adds up.

We are going to be sharing some other simple changes throughout the month that you can make and we can’t wait to hear how you’re eliminating plastic out of your life this Plastic Free July! Comment below!

Resources:

https://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/avoiding-toxins-in-plastic

http://www.livestrong.com/article/182003-what-are-the-dangers-of-plastic-bags-for-food-storage/

http://www.isfoundation.com/campaign/kids/plastic-straws-can-suck-it

http://ecologycenter.org/plastics/ptf/report3/