I love the idea of always trying to improve my life and work towards becoming the best version of me that I can possibly be.
I’ve been a big fan of 30-Day challenges and the positive impact that they can make on your life. It’s said that 30 days is enough time to solidify a new habit that you want to incorporate into your daily routine, or even to subtract a habit that hasn’t been good for your health or well-being.
This month, I signed up for the Plastic Free July Challenge. I’ve just joined millions of people reducing their plastic waste and I am pumped!
Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution. By simply choosing to refuse single-use plastics, we can help our communities have cleaner and safer streets, oceans, and environment.
Here are five easy ways to jumpstart your Plastic Free July Challenge:
1. GIVE UP BOTTLED WATER.
Here’s a “not-so-fun” fact: Bottled water companies don’t produce water. They produce plastic bottles.
Giant companies like Nestlé make billions bottling water it pays nearly nothing for. They drain and pull millions of gallons of water out of the ground of drought-stricken areas to bottle and sell.
Not only does bottled water come in a plastic bottle, but tremendous resources are used to extract, bottle, and ship it. Plastic also poses some health risks as it may leach chemicals into the water you’re drinking.
So, what is a better alternative? Get a reusable stainless steel bottle or travel mug. Take it with you and refill it wherever you happen to be.
2. REFUSE THE BIG, BAD 4
Next up: Refuse all single-use plastic bags, bottles, straws and coffee cups.
They’re nasty – and they’re killing animals, polluting the rivers and oceans, and damaging our environment.
Single-use cutlery is used for a few minutes and discarded to remain in the environment forever. Even compostable cutlery has its limitations.
What to do then? Carry whatever works for you. Use reusable canvas totes for shopping, or put your purchases into a backpack like I do.
You can keep a stainless steel travel mug and a reusable utensil set in your purse at all times. Use these when buying coffee to go or when eating out.
By choosing to refuse single-use cutlery and takeaway containers, you can help set a precedent for sustainable alternatives and show how easy it can be.
3. AVOID FOODS WRAPPED IN PLASTIC
We have all seen them in the supermarket — the single vegetable wrapped in plastic.
Plastics are not naturally producing elements of the earth. They are synthetically manufactured with a combination of chemicals.
When food is stored in plastic bags, these chemicals can leach into the food and infest them. Studies have shown that these chemicals have been linked to tissue changes, genetic damage, early puberty and hormonal changes.
The best way to shop is to pick “naked” or loose fruits and vegetables. If you must buy a pre-packaged item, always choose recyclable packaging made of glass, metal, or paper over lower-grade plastic packaging.
You can also think of some changes your household could make. For example, if you eat a lot of cereal and you have a lot of plastic cereal bags (trash) and cereal boxes (recycling), you could find ways to shop in bulk (avoiding trash and recycling altogether) or choose less wasteful food options.
4. SUPPORT ECO-CONSCIOUS LOCAL BUSINESSES
We know that with COVID-19, our local businesses faced many challenges.
It is important that we support our local businesses during this time, especially those that make an effort to implement sustainable business practices.
This is also a perfect time to encourage them to rethink and reduce single-use plastics. Let them know about reusable alternatives they can use instead, or ask them to consider welcoming customers who bring their own containers.
You can also encourage schools, child care centres, your workplace, and other establishments you’re connected with to rethink their use of plastic cutlery and takeaway containers.
5. SIGN UP FOR THE PLASTIC FREE JULY CHALLENGE
Want some tips to find out how you can reduce plastic waste? Plastic Free July is full of ideas! Visit them at https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/.
You can choose to refuse single-use plastics in July (and beyond!). Best of all, being part of Plastic Free July will help you to find great alternatives that can become new habits forever.
Jomay Amora-Dueck is the creator of theecoistcollective.com. She is the author of Becoming Ecoist:
A Beginner’s Guide to Minimalist and Sustainable Living. Download your FREE copy at