Plastic Free July is back again for its 9th year, and that means refusing (or attempting to refuse!) single-use plastic for the month of July. I first accepted the challenge back in 2012 and I started making swaps, one by one, and when it got to August I realised there was no going back! By learning new skills, eating better (try buying overly processed food without plastic!), meeting all kinds of inspiring people, reducing my footprint and having so much fun doing so – there was no reason to go back! Plastic-free living sounds like a big deal, but when we break it down to one swap at a time and go at a pace that works for us, it’s amazing what we can accomplish. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, here are some tips for getting the most out of Plastic Free July this year.
Part of refusing single-use plastic is being prepared. It’s usually those moments where we are rushing or forgot to plan ahead that catches us out. Think about the places you go, the things you do and where you might be facing avoidable plastic this July, and ensure you are as prepared as you can be. Pop a reusable container and a fork in the drawer at work in case you need a quick takeaway lunch, make sure you have a reusable coffee cup in your handbag AND in the car if you’re reliant on a caffeine fix most mornings and sometimes end up with a disposable cup. Don’t forget to ensure your water bottle is filled up before leaving the house. It may be that you need to buy some reusables to help you avoid the plastic, it may be that you can make do with something you already have, or it may be a case of dusting off those reusables you bought with good intentions but have been letting languish in the cupboard.
The best reusables are the ones we remember to reuse. So make sure you remember them! Whether it’s a note on the front door or pinned to the fridge, or it’s an electronic calendar reminder, these little prompts go a long way to ensuring that we are prepared.
Be the person you’d have liked to have supporting you when you started. Plastic Free July can be an eye-opening and at times overwhelming journey for beginners, especially when we haven’t given much thought to plastic before, and suddenly we see it everywhere! If you’re further down the track, try to support any beginners that you see rather than rolling your eyes or burdening them with yet more things to think about. Be supportive and helpful. Remember that you were there once!
It’s easy to do the things we always do. If you always shop at the bulk store and refuse single-use coffee cups that are great, but that’s not a challenge! Is there a guilty pleasure you could give up for the month? Is there a food you love that you could try making from scratch rather than purchasing in plastic? Push yourself to do something new! Commit to one thing that you know will be an effort, and keep at it for 31 days. At the end of the month, you can decide if it wasn’t as hard as you expected, or if it’s not something you can maintain long-term. Your end decision doesn’t matter – what matters is that you try!
Remember, Plastic Free July is an opportunity. The chance to engage with others on the issues we care about, challenge ourselves to go one step further, be part of a movement of like-minded people, working towards making the world a better place and best of all, have fun doing so!
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