Plastic Free July 2018: 31 ways to reduce your plastic footprint

Welcome to Plastic Free July! Originally a small initiative starting in Australia, Plastic Free July is now a global event, with over two million people from 159 countries signing up to take part in the challenge to live without single-use plastic for a whole month.

Although in its eighth year, 2018 feels like the first year that Plastic Free July is representing a truly mainstream movement. From the European Union looking to get approval by May 2019 to ban ten of the most common single-use plastic items, to India’s huge announcement that they are seeking to eliminate all single-use plastics by 2022, plastic pollution is firmly on the global political agenda.

After years of campaigning by charities, NGOs and the public, it’s amazing to see governments and global organisations taking real action. But you only need to look around you in every shop, street and home to see that single-use plastic is still very much embedded in our day-to-day lives, which is why challenges like Plastic Free July are so important. Political change is slow, whereas we as individuals can take steps right now to prevent unnecessary plastic pollution and waste.

So to kick things off, I’ve made a list of simple swaps you may want to try, one for each day of July:

  1. Carrier bags for canvas bags
  2. Plastic drink bottles for reusable bottles
  3. Plastic toothbrushes for bamboo toothbrushes
  4. Disposable takeaway coffee cups for reusable mugs
  5. Plastic straws for no straw (or reusable straws!)
  6. Shower gel for bar soap
  7. Washing up sponges for wooden dish brushes
  8. Plastic-wrapped kitchen roll for washable cloths
  9. Facial wipes for flannels or muslin cloths
  10. Single-use bottles of cleaning sprays for DIY recipes or refill-at-home products like Splosh
  11. Plastic bottles of mouthwash for mouthwash tabs in glass jars
  12. Little flimsy supermarket plastic bags for produce bags
  13. Bottles of shampoo for shampoo bars
  14. Tubes of makeup remover for glass bottles of almond oil
  15. Plastic-wrapped toilet roll for Who Gives A Crap or Ecoleaf
  16. Tea bags for loose leaf tea
  17. Synthetic fibre clothes for natural fabrics
  18. Pre-packed bags of fruit and veg for loose single items
  19. Plastic bottles of laundry liquid for refill stations or large boxes of powder
  20. Plastic milk and juice bottles for delivery in returnable glass bottles
  21. Ice cube bags for reusable ice cube trays
  22. Plastic bags of pantry staples like rice, nuts and lentils for refills in your own packaging, or compostable bags.
  23. Plastic cutlery for reusable bamboo or metal utensils
  24. Plastic wrapped shop-bought sandwiches for making your own in a reusable sandwich bag
  25. Plastic bottles of soft drink for DIY infusions
  26. Coffee pods for bags of ground coffee and a cafetière
  27. Shop bought dips and spreads for simple DIY recipes
  28. Pre-packed supermarket deli products for refills in your own containers
  29. Shop-bought compost for home made (this one will definitely take longer than a month!)
  30. Disposable razors for razors with replaceable heads, or a safety razor if you’re feeling brave
  31. Plastic pens for refillable cartridges and pencils

Continue reading “Plastic Free July 2018: 31 ways to reduce your plastic footprint”

Plastic Free July (argh, it’s everywhere!)


Week 1 plastic fails (although check out the coriander growing in the back, putting the parsley on the left to shame)

I sauntered into Plastic Free July thinking “It’ll be so easy this year. I’ve had way more practice, and I’m totally prepared for this.” Ha! is what I have to say to me on that; plastic is everywhere and it’s been pursuing me relentlessly like a mosquito on a summer evening.

The picture at the top is the plastic I’ve accidentally acquired this week, and it’ll be living in my hallway until the end of the month when I can survey the shame all together. So, here we go:

1. Little pot of sauce: It’s Friday night, it’s 11pm and we’ve stopped rushing about like lunatics for the first time that day. Pizza, delivered to us in a friendly cardboard box was surely the answer. And it was glorious. But then Continue reading “Plastic Free July (argh, it’s everywhere!)”

Preparing for Plastic Free July


The classic festival ‘carpet’

My walk to work takes me four and half miles from north London to central London. Unsurprisingly, I see quite a lot of rubbish on my way. And it really, really angers me. Partly I’m angry because in addition to there being lots of rubbish in London, there’s also lots of bins, ideal for putting the rubbish in. But I’m more angry because so much of the rubbish is unnecessary, and exists because it’s more convenient than a version of that product that doesn’t require the generation of waste – water bottles, sandwich packets, plastic bags.To me this represents the root of the reason that we’re a planet rapidly filling up with plastic waste that’s destroying wildlife and polluting the oceans – because as a society, convenience wins. This is the norm, but it isn’t OK and it has to stop.

A rather grim example of the problem we’re causing strikes me every day at Euston, as I walk past a park. Continue reading “Preparing for Plastic Free July”

Coming to a calender near you… Plastic Free July!

Last year’s Plastic Free July fails

It’s the most wonderful time…of the year! No, not Christmas, it’s Plastic Free July 🙂

Plastic Free July is an Australian initiative, but people from all around the world take part. It’s been running since 2011, and the PFJ website says that in 2014 ‘over 14,000 individuals, schools, businesses and organisations from 69 countries participated’.

I was already pretty enthusiastic about sustainability and environmental issues before I discovered Plastic Free July. But it was taking part in PFJ last year that really hit it home to me quite how much plastic there is. It’s in everything (I’m looking at you, microbeads). It’s around everything (almost every foodstuff in every supermarket). Then, once you have your stuff containing and surrounded by plastic, you put it in more plastic, in the form of a flimsy, easily-ripped bag, take it home and then either stuff it in the back of the cupboard, or it goes straight into the recycling, never to be used again. Possibly, it’ll be used as a bin liner to hold other bits of plastic before it goes to join all the other unloved bits of plastic in a landfill. Continue reading “Coming to a calender near you… Plastic Free July!”