Plastic Free July might only be a month, but participating has helped me create life-long habits. Taking small steps is the best way to change habits, and even small changes have the power to make a difference. Today I’m sharing the three single-use plastic items I refused for Plastic Free July and the plastic free alternatives that are making a difference.
I’ve always tried to be an environmentally responsible person; recycling at home, choosing paper over plastic packaging, gifting handmade and taking re-usable shopping bags to the supermarket…most of the time. But for a while now it has been on my mind to do MORE. Learning about PlasticFreeJuly.org was the motivator that finally got me to stop being lazy and start making changes.
All of the single-use plastic in my home is really only there for convenience sake; cling wrap, plastic bags, freezer bags, plastic straws, ziplock bags, plastic water bottles…etc. They’re quick and convenient in the moment, but mindlessly thrown in the bin later, usually after just one use. I know I don’t have to use these plastics, and I know I shouldn’t use them. But changing habits isn’t always easy. I started July by writing a list in my bullet journal of the throw-away plastics my family uses most often, and researched some alternatives. Rather than try to tackle everything on the list at once (which would lead to overwhelm and me giving up!) I chose a couple of areas where I knew I could make a difference straight away.
Taking small steps is the best way to change habits.
Three Single-Use Plastic Items I Refused during Plastic Free July
- Plastic produce bags
- Plastic shopping bags
- Plastic straws
After doing some research I purchased three alternative products, from Biome, to help me get started:
(I may earn a small commission from Biome if you make a purchase using links in this post, at no cost to you.)
Refusing Single-Use Plastic Produce Bags
Every time I shopped for fruit and vegetables at the supermarket I’d take home several of their small plastic produce bags. Plus, once home, all my produce was being stored in these plastic bags in the fridge. Not good for the environment or my veggies!
Alternative: Onya Reusable Produce Bags
I now take a set of Onya Reusable Produce Bags with me to the supermarket. Made from recycled plastic bottles, these handy little bags eliminate the need to place fruit and vegetables into throw-away plastic bags. Each Onya reusable bag can hold up to 2kg and the see-through mesh means they’re ‘checkout friendly’. The cute ‘stuffable’ carry pouch is really handy. It can be clipped inside your big bag, so you won’t forget to take them to the store. The Onya bags are washable, and I love that this product can even be recycled when it reaches the end of its life.
Alternative: The Swag Bag
Almost all of my fresh produce is now stored inside a Swag Bag, inside the crisper of my fridge, and on a shelf in the pantry. Not only do these natural, non-toxic, sustainable bags eliminate the need for plastic, but they are keeping my fruit and vegetables fresh for longer.
Refusing Single-Use Plastic Shopping Bags
Although I’ve always kept a set of reusable shopping bags at home or in the car, and a rolled up cotton tote in my handbag, I would often forget to use them. Too often I would return home with my groceries, and a bunch of plastic shopping bags. So this change wasn’t about finding a plastic free alternative, but rather, motivating myself to stop using single-use plastic shopping bags, once and for all. There were two practices that really helped me change my habits around single-use shopping bags. One of these was to simply focus on the reasons why I’m reducing my use of plastic. Focusing on the why has resulted in me caring so much more about whether or not I remember those shopping bags. Rather than a hassle or a time waster, they are now an important, and very positive, part of every shopping trip. Slowing down and being more mindful when preparing to shop has also helped. I’ve simplified how I shop. I rush less, and I make sure there’s time to grab those reusable bags on my way out.
Refusing Single-Use Plastic Straws
A plastic straw gets used for approximately 20 minutes and then discarded. This is an exceptionally short life span, yet the plastic straw never breaks down. They are one of the top ten items littering the world’s beaches and along with other single-use plastics, they have a devastating effect on the environment. My family has been guilty of using plastic straws, both at home and in takeaway juices and smoothies.
Alternative: Stainless Steel Smoothie Straws
To kick our plastic straw habit, I purchased a set of four stainless steel smoothie straws. These straws are reusable and made from high quality food grade stainless steel. Plus they’re free from BPA and other nasty chemicals that many plastic straws contain. I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable stainless steel straws are to drink through, and how easy it is to keep them clean. Smoothie straws have a slightly wider diameter (9.5mm) than the regular size, so they work really well in thick smoothies!
My choice to refuse single use-plastic won’t stop here. Now that I’ve taken the first small steps I’m continuing to work through my list, one item at a time.
Did you #choosetorefuse single-use plastic in July?