Plastic Free July 2022 by Bella Howard-Vyse
Plastic Free July is a global initiative established to reduce plastic pollution and raise awareness of the disastrous consequences of plastic usage. This movement encourages people to refuse single-use plastics throughout July and introduces them to alternatives that will, hopefully, encourage them to make more permanent changes to their lifestyle.
Plastic – The Facts
It is no secret that the damaging effects of plastic on our environment are exponential. Since the 1950s when plastic manufacturing started booming, more than 9 billion metric tonnes have been produced globally, with more than half of this being made since 2000. In the UK alone, around 4.9 million tonnes of plastics are put on the market each year, of which three quarters become waste. According to Plastic Oceans, an unbelievable 10 million tonnes of plastic is dumped in our oceans every single year, the equivalent of more than a bin lorry load every minute. This is having a catastrophic effect on our sea life with over 1 million marine animals being killed by plastic pollution annually. In addition to this, it is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050, with 100% of mussels tested already containing microplastics. Of the 380 million tonnes of plastic produced each year, at least 50% is single-use only and is thus often used for mere minutes before being thrown away. Although there has been a push for recycling initiatives in recent years, only 9% of all plastic gets recycled, highlighting the importance of avoiding plastic altogether and opting for more sustainable alternatives.
There are, however, numerous ways to do this.
As the world becomes more aware of the action required to tackle climate change and reduce its collective plastic usage, there are few things out there that aren’t easily replaced by stronger, longer-lasting, environmentally friendly alternatives. This July, try to opt for sustainable products that reduce plastic waste and encourage a more eco-friendly lifestyle throughout the rest of this month and beyond.
A huge percentage of household plastic comes from toiletries, but all of these items come plastic free!
- Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
o By switching your plastic bottles for bars, your hair washing routine will be completely plastic free. Shampoo and conditioner bars have become popular in recent years, not just for their sustainability, but also for their small size and longer lifetime.
- Soap Bars and Jars
o Bars of soap seem to have gone out of fashion over the years as people tend to opt for disposable, pumping plastic bottles. However, soap bars or refillable glass bottles are far more sustainable and a welcome change for Plastic Free July.
- Refillable Deodorant
o Natural and refillable deodorant is a recent trend popular among sustainability seekers. As such, there has been an increase in the market and there are numerous plastic free brands to choose from. These eco-friendly alternatives offer aluminium free deodorants in plastic free, reusable cases with compostable refills. Once you make the switch from chemical and plastic-heavy deodorant, there will be no turning back!
- Teeth and Hair
o As the quest for plastic-free items continues, toothbrushes and hairbrushes are now being made from bamboo or biodegradable materials. These alternatives last just as long as their plastic counterparts but are completely plastic free. You can even avoid plastic toothpaste tubes by opting for jars of toothpaste in powder form or chewable toothpaste tablets.
- Reusable Materials
o A successful Plastic Free July (and beyond!) will be more likely if single-use items are exchanged for reusable ones. Cutlery, straws, bottles, keep cups and Tupperware can all be replaced with sustainable options. Although wooden cutlery and paper straws are on the rise, bringing your own will ensure you avoid excess waste and any accidental plastic usage. Similarly, a reusable water bottle, coffee keep cup and Tupperware are all important contributors to going plastic free.
- Washing Up
o Although washing up uses a lot of water, it has to be done. It can, however, be done more sustainably than before. Compostable sponges and refillable washing up liquid are great ways to reduce your plastic usage. Compostable sponges biodegrade and by filling a glass bottle with dish soap from a refillery, you can avoid plastic altogether.
- Tea Bags
o Most tea producers use plastic for their tea bags and packaging. It may seem like a bit of a faff but, to help reduce this, you can opt for a plastic-free tea provider such as Scottish Blend, or switch to loose leaf tea instead.
- Reusable Bags o Approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide annually. That’s more than one million every second. A considerable number of these plastic bags end up in the ocean and kill our marine life. By switching to a fabric, tote or recycled bag instead, you will be significantly reducing your plastic usage.
The packaging sector is the biggest contributing industry to plastic production globally. As such, avoiding buying things online, where possible, and opting for in-store purchases with little to no packaging is a great way to reduce your plastic consumption. This can be as simple as buying your fruit and vegetables loose rather than in plastic bags, or buying books in your local bookshop rather than online to avoid all the excess waste. Using The Refillery is the perfect way to reduce your plastic usage as you can buy everyday groceries and essentials completely plastic free.
Going plastic free shouldn’t just be for July, it should be for good. There are so many small, simple steps to take to reduce and eradicate plastic usage, all of which will have a positive impact on our environment. Challenge yourself to take at least 5 of these steps for the