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.
An effective way I’ve found to curb shopping impulses is by creating a “Do Not Buy” list. This is a list of things that I’ve bought that have gone to waste or went unenjoyed for various reasons. Reminding myself of what these items are and, more importantly, why they didn’t work out (whether it be a certain type of clothing or food) keeps me from accumulating unwanted items. Truly the first step to reducing waste is by purchasing fewer items to begin with.
Dark chocolate: I have a sweet tooth and as much as I try — I find dark chocolate far too bitter… these usually end up accumulating in the pantry until my husband eats them all. Excessively flavored tea: I love tea but am mostly drawn to black, builder tea — the stronger, the better. I’ll occasionally do a light herbal blend or an Earl Grey. But outside of that, I don’t need to get too fancy with it. Flavored balsamic vinaigrettes: While I love flavored balsamics, they usually come in a massive bottle that I struggle to use up. Non vanilla-based ice cream: I’m a vanilla girl. Sure, I’ll get crazy flavors when out and about, but, at home, there’s no way I’ll finish a pint of something purely chocolate. Most cookies: Give me all the cakes and pies — cookies I can pass on.
Hairspray: I’ve had the same bottle for years — I have incredibly thick, mostly hard to control hair. No amount of hairspray can change that. Conditioner: For every conditioner bottle I use up, I’ve probably gone through 4-5 shampoo bars. I don’t use enough of it to justify the purchase. I think coconut oil pre-shampooing should be enough. Nail polish: I love having my nails done. I suck at doing them myself. And, no matter how much I practice, it never looks as good as when I get it done at the salon. I’ll leave it to the professionals.
Boat neck shirts: Doesn’t look good on me. Empire waisted dresses: Doesn’t work on my petite frame. Shirts/dresses with halter straps: Makes me self conscious about my shoulders. Jeans without stretch: Not comfortable. Trench coats: Looks cool. Completely impractical in the Texas weather. Tight shorts: Too old to feel comfortable in these. Fancy compression workout leggings: I love my Nike Leg-a-see Leggings and gravitate towards them. Everything else feels too tight. Black loungewear: Three cream/golden dogs who love to shed. Don’t wear black in my home. Expensive shoes: I have flat feet and do a number on my shoes — doesn’t matter how expensive they were. There are plenty of affordable options out there. Non black/grey/nude undergarments: I see all these cute colors and prints but they just aren’t practical! Dress socks: I work from home. I have no need for these… no matter how adorable they are. Bracelets/watches: I hate anything on my wrist.
Beachy or linen scented items: I prefer warmer, sweeter scents. I don’t like to feel like I’m inside a washing machine. Blankets or pillows with poms on them: Three dogs and poms do not mix. Non-cotton blankets: My cotton blankets have outlasted every other material and are so much more comfortable (and compostable!). Pure white bedding: These end up looking grimey and yellow pretty quickly in our home. Only gray bedding moving forward.
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).