I just got back from an epic trip to Japan and South Korea so forgive the lack of posts! I have a lot of travel related content coming up soon. In the meantime, since it IS Plastic Free July — I’ve updated last year’s post. Enjoy!
Happy July! AND Happy Plastic Free July! Started in Australia, Plastic Free July now reaches over 2 million people across the globe. During the month of July, participants commit to reduce and eliminate plastic use. You can choose to 1. Avoid single use plastic packaging 2. Eliminate use of takeaway items (bags, bottles, straws, coffee cups) or 3. Go completely plastic-free. I highly recommend registering here and committing to even one small change! The Plastic Free July site also has great tips on reducing your plastic waste. Read on to learn about some of the easiest changes you can make this month and links to some past posts if you want to go even more in depth!
Bring your own shoppings bags as well as canvas or mesh produce bags to hold fruits, veggies, and bulk items.
No straws! Learn to say “no straw please” whenever you get a drink at a restaurant or bar. If you MUST have a straw, bring along your own stainless steel one.
Avoid plastic cutlery during your summertime picnics/bbqs/events. Use your usual washable flatware or get compostable wooden cutlery.
Say no to the single use plastic water bottles. I guarantee you have some reusable water bottles laying around the house from some event or another. Commit to using it!
Make your own coffee and tea at home OR bring your own cup to the coffee shop.
Avoid plastic wrap when storing food. Use reusable beeswax wraps, glass storage containers, and compostable parchment paper.
And if you are looking to REALLY get into the plastic free or zero waste life, check out the following:
It’s summer. Which means… it’s wedding season. Maybe you are getting married and trying to create a thoughtful registry. Or perhaps you are a guest who wants to give something lovely but earth friendly. Either way, I have some ideas for you. The key is to find items that are useful, a bit luxe (perhaps something a friend or family member wouldn’t buy for themselves), and ethical/sustainable/eco-friendly/secondhand/whatever matters most to you. (Just remember to gift wrap things in the least wasteful way.)
Our household is currently at the point where we fill up about one kitchen-sized trash bag a month. Because, honestly, trash is inevitable. And I’m a 100% okay with that. I just try and do my best and minimize waste whenever I can. So what still ends up in my trash? Let’s take a look at May.
Floss — apparently my husband’s dentist doesn’t think his water flosser and compostable floss is working enough… so — it’s back old school floss for him.
Sheet mask packaging — I still have a stockpile of these to get through. I love them but they’re so wasteful.
Electric toothbrush head — The electric toothbrush is one of my luxury items. Unfortunately, the brush head can’t be recycled.
Old porch rug — This small rug got destroyed by storms this year and had to go. Unfortunately, the plastic-y backing prevented it from going to textile recycling. This went straight into the big trash bin.
Old soy sauce packets — No matter how many times I say “no sauces/utensils/napkins” in my takeout order — soy sauce packets always slip through.
Dog food bag — We had to switch brands of dog food and can no longer TerraCycle the bags.
Plastic tags — The plastic tag on some fridge organization bins from Daiso.
Foil top — The paper/foil top that sealed a jar of peanut butter.
In January 2018, I decided that I was going to go at least 3 months without buying any new clothes (the exceptions: underwear, shoes, leggings, and anything needed for bridesmaid duties). I ended up going until October and found it shockingly easy. I fell in love with thrifting, Poshmark, and shopping my own closet. This January, I decided to re-start my “no new clothes” challenge. We’re in the middle of April and, so far, so good. The challenge got me thinking — what else could I stand to stop buying this year? Like clothes, other personal and household items can accumulate. Think… candles, skincare, makeup, even food items … generally smaller, consumable items that are OH SO EASY to impulse purchase (especially when traveling!).
Anyone else feel a sense of joy (or even accomplishment) when you get through an entire skincare product or hit pan in a makeup palette or burn through a candle in it’s entirety? I want to feel more of that. So here are some items I am adding to my “do not buy” list until there are no “backups” left.
Candles. Yeah, I’m one of those people. I make candles in old candle jars. I also buy candles because I’m a total sucker. I am given candles because everyone knows how much I love candles. A candle is lit daily so they do get used up… but, right now, I have an overwhelming amount to go through.
Bath Bombs. I was given a lot of bath bombs over Christmas which piled up on top of my impulse bath bomb purchases at Lush. I am making a habit of taking more baths and making sure to use a bath bomb each time.
Bar Soaps. I blame my husband. He’s a soap fiend. At Whole Foods? Buy soap. Traveling and see a small business owner selling soap? Buy it. Obviously, these get used up. But, right now, I have a small shoe box full of soap.
Body Moisturizers. Don’t know how this happened but between gifts and half empty lotion bottles — I probably have 2 years worth of the stuff.
Face Masks. Not the sheet ones but jars and tubes of them. They come as part of skincare kits, as gifts, etc. I also find that I take forever to get through them as I’m not super consistent about masking. Goal: Mask twice a week and get through all these jars! In the future, maybe DIY masks to save self from collecting (somewhat unused) masks.
Lipstick and lip balms. I have too many, plain and simple. I also have every color and forumation I could possibly need so I just need to stop picking these up.
OTC Medications. Somehow we end up with multiple bottles of Ibuprofen, allergy medications, and Pepto. Usually while traveling or out and about, someone ends up with a headache or sniffles and we end up buying meds that come home with us. Goal: Make sure to pack medications in travel bag to prevent purchases. Thoroughly check medicine cabinet before buying any medications.
Tea. Another impulse travel purchase. Wherever I am in the world, I end up buying local tea. Yeah, the loose leaf stuff is great and compostable but how much tea do I really need?! So. No more until I’m through the majority of my stash.
What items could you stand to stop buying for the next few months?
Bar soaps are a holy grail product for low-wasters. You can often find them without any packaging and once they are used up, they’re done. No bottles or pumps or lids to recycle or trash. No waste. It’s awesome. However, these wonderful creations do require a little bit of care to get the most use out of them.
First up, soap dishes. My view: the best soap dish is one you already have. You don’t have one lying around? This is the perfect time to use unused jewelry dishes, a small fancy plate, empty candle jars, empty jam jars, Altoid tins… any jar/plate/trinket dish that is shallow and wide. I personally use an old candle jar + a trinket dish at home and a Lush tin + a random old gum tin when traveling.
But what’s more important than where you place your soap? It’s how you keep your soap dry when not in use… a constantly wet soap bar that doesn’t have time to dry out is a soap bar that becomes mushy and dies in a week. Enter the soap lift or soap saver (examples here and here). In addition, I use a sisal soap saver (like this one) for my body soap bar to help exfoliate my skin, keep my bar hung up and dry between use, and to corral small soap slivers together.
And, a final tip: if you get your hands on a large bar of soap, use a knife and cut the large bar in to smaller pieces. This way, you aren’t getting a massive bar of soap constantly wet (and, therefore, wasting a large amount of it).