Calendar overflowing this summer? How about your rubbish bin?
Now we’re in the hotter months, we all want to pack in the fun plans we’ve rescheduled since 2020.
But “going out” can be synonymous with “throwing out” if we’re not careful: plastic waste skyrockets by up to 40% during the summer.1
Plastic Free July came about as an initiative to reduce plastic waste 11 years ago.
Their founders, the Plastic Free Foundation, envisaged a future where we’re totally free of plastic waste.
140 million people participated in Plastic Free July last year and together they reduced global household landfill waste by 1.2 million tonnes.2
The official site offers 3 goals for Plastic Free July, depending on what’s most feasible for you:
- Avoid single-use plastic
- Target takeaway items (like bags, bottles, straws, and cups)
- Go completely “plastic-free”.
Going plastic-free doesn’t have to mean compromising your favourite activities - and nor does it mean keeping a load of clutter around. With a bit of planning, plastic-free changes can turn into habits we soon won’t even bat an eye at.
We’ve put together some more sustainable swaps to get you through Plastic-Free July and beyond - especially when you’re out out.
The garden picnic edit
Plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups, and plastic straws are the four largest single-use villains around.
The good news is that many of us are aware of this and are making changes to reusable versions.
As we eke past that magical 20 degrees, there’s nothing most of us feel like more than grabbing some snacks and embracing al fresco in the garden or park.
You’re already ahead if you’re packing treats from home. But, after all your efforts, are you wrapping them in cling film or a sandwich bag?
One tip is to swap them out for a multipack crisp bag: it’s only been used to hold other foil bags and was headed straight for the bin.
If you’re stocking up on nibbles, bring your own container and raid the deli counters at your local shop.
Supermarket counters will have many of the same meats, cheeses, cakes, and antipasti as they do on the shelves - but without the packaging.
Most are sold individually, so it means you can pick and mix, too.
Hosting this time? Maybe you’re planning to do a last-minute spruce outdoors before everyone arrives.
Even gardening accessories like seed trays can be made of single-use, non-recyclable plastic…
We advocate using what we’ve already got, and chances are you’ve got some great beauty and wellness alternatives sitting around.
Empty vitamin pots are the perfect size for planting seedlings or propagating plants; you might even get some fresh herbs ready for the occasion.
- Swap out cling film and sandwich bags for plastic-free alternatives. Or, at least re-use; we love a multipack crisp bag!
- Bring your own container to the shops and stock up at deli counters rather than from the shelves.
- Switch single-use garden products for household alternatives. We’ve always got a vitamin pot hanging around…
The party edit
I spy a wedding…and a birthday bash…and a hen do…
It’s well and truly party season! But, again, this can be a spanner in the works if you’re trying to reduce plastic.
Not all wrapping paper is recyclable, so watch out when you’re shopping for a gift.
Consider wrapping presents in fabric - a practice stemming from centuries-old Japanese Furoshiki and Korean Bojagi traditions.
Dried flowers, compostable ribbons, and ink stamps all make great sustainable decorations, too.
It might sound small, but doing so could help reduce the 227,000 miles of wrapping paper we use in the UK per year.3
If you’re hosting, do your best to avoid plastic-based decorations. Fabric or pom-pom bunting is stylish and reusable year after year.
Ask yourself: do you really need balloons? Paper alternatives are available - or, you could add the same sense of fun (okay, photo opportunities) with bubbles, flowers, or lights.
Add to your party snack repertoire by making ice lollies! They’ll make a colourful arrangement in a cool box and beat pre-packaged versions by a mile.
Fill a reusable ice lolly mould with your favourite juice, yoghurt, fruit teas, or shakes. Why not turn your morning smoothie into a lolly? We might be biased, but we love our Sunshine Salted Caramel Smoothie (contains nuts).
The possibilities are almost endless and they’re perfect for keeping energetic kids cool (or, you know, to keep you hydrated into the small hours).
- Wrap gifts in fabric or recyclable paper and decorate with flowers and ribbons.
- Switch out balloons for bubbles, bunting, and lights.
- Turn your party drink of choice into a waste-free ice lolly.
The festival edit
Either you’re coming home caked in glitter or in mud. On second thought - it’s more likely both.
We’re all for summer sparkle, but your post-festival shower could be sending harmful microplastics down the drain.
Glitter is a microplastic, a tiny piece of non-recyclable plastic less than five millimetres in length.
They can’t be filtered out by standard drainage systems, so they find their way into the ocean and, fatally, into the stomachs of marine life.4
In fact, microplastics are so inescapable that there’s a 90% chance your standard table salt contains them.5
Biodegradable “eco glitter” might seem like a shining solution, but newer evidence suggests that it could be just as harmful.5
Consider bright, sustainable makeup or shiny accessories you already have at home before you pay a visit to the craft store.
Chances are you’re familiar with the pre-festival, top-to-toe MOT.
Cramming a week’s worth of hygiene into one day has the same effect, right…? (We’re obliged to report that this is, in fact, wrong).
If you’re shaving before a week of tent life, you can reduce plastic waste with a wooden razor, like these from Naked Necessities.
An estimated 5.5 million people in the UK used disposable razors in 2019 - that’s 5.5 million extra pieces of plastic waste.7
Naked Necessities’ weighted wooden handle comes with 6 chrome blades for a close, smooth shave and no plastic waste.
You can also avoid single-use travel bottles by stocking up at a refill store before you go.
We’re proud to launch our first Zero Waste World in our Birmingham Bull Ring store - and we hope to see many more.
Customers can refill their empty bottles with Faith in Nature products and avoid the cost and waste of new packaging.
If you don’t have a refill store near you, think about decanting your big bottles into smaller containers rather than spending an arm and a leg on single-use travel packs.
Handpicked content: 17 sustainable beauty swaps
- Swap glitter for colourful accessories and sustainable makeup.
- Up the quality of your shave with a wooden or metal razor.
- Decant shampoos and shower gels into smaller reusable bottles or visit your local Zero Waste station (we’re proud to have one in our Birmingham Bull Ring Holland & Barrett).
Sun, sea, and sustainability
Avoiding plastic can be difficult when you’re face-to-face with a burger van or packing a tiny bag for a weekend’s worth of plans.
Remember that refusing is another small but powerful action against plastic pollution. Don’t need that extra napkin?
Saying “no” to the plastic we’re habitually offered means one less item in landfill. Who knows what we could do together?
Share how you’re celebrating Plastic Free July with us - we’d love you to be part of the millions taking part this year.
Show us your waste-free hacks on Instagram with the hashtag #MyHB - and follow the steps we’re taking to live a more sustainable future.
Last updated: 30 June 2022