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woman holding cloth bag with plants and reusable water bottle for zero waste awareness

How to get involved this Plastic Free July (and still go out)

04 Jul 2023 • 2 min read

It’s finally time for those summer plans!  

But “going out” can mean “throwing out” if we’re not careful. Plastic waste skyrockets in summer, with 40% more rubbish reaching the Mediterranean Sea.¹

Plastic Free July aims to bring this stat down, and even dreams of a future where we’re totally free of plastic waste. 

We’ve put together some simple swaps to get you through Plastic Free July and beyond - even when you’re out out. 

What is Plastic Free July?

What is Plastic Free July?

Set up by the Plastic Free Foundation in 2011, Plastic Free July challenges people to reduce or even stop their single-use plastic waste altogether.  

140 million people took part last year and saved 2.6 million tonnes of waste from entering landfill.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. 

With a bit of planning, these changes can turn into habits you soon won’t even bat an eye at.

The picnic edit

According to the Big Plastic Count 2022, the UK throws away almost 100 billion pieces of plastic packaging per year. A staggering 83% of this comes from food and drinks.³

If you’re embracing al fresco, try these tips for a picnic with less plastic:

  • Make your own sandwiches instead of buying pre-packaged ones. It’ll only take 5 minutes... promise! 

  • Say goodbye to cling film and single-use sandwich bags. Why not wrap your snacks in a multipack crisp bag, or re-use a bag from the bakery counter? 

  • Bring your own container to the shops and stock up at deli counters rather than from the shelves. This means you can pick and mix, too.  

The party edit

It’s well and truly party season! But 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. 

It might sound small, but doing so could help reduce the 227,000 miles of wrapping paper we use in the UK per year.⁴ 

Dried flowers, compostable ribbons, and ink stamps all make great decorations, too.  

If you’re hosting, do your best to avoid plastic-based decorations and snacks:

  • 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 with bubbles, flowers, or lights.  

  • Home-made ice lollies beat supermarket versions by a mile. Fill a reusable mould with your favourite juice, yoghurt, fruit teas, or smoothies

The festival edit

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 that can take hundreds or even thousands of years to break down. In that time, microplastics harm the environment and can even reach our oceans, where they’re consumed by marine life.⁵

In fact, they’re so inescapable that there’s a 90% chance your standard table salt contains them.⁶ 

Biodegradable “eco glitter” might seem like a shining solution, but newer evidence suggests that it could be just as harmful.⁷ Consider bright makeup or shiny accessories you already have at home before you pay a visit to the craft store.  

And don’t waste money on mini toiletries! Decant yours into smaller bottles instead. In fact, you could create your own refill shop from home.  

Shampoo and body wash bars are another way to limit waste and are invaluable if you’re packing light. 

The final say

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.  

But remember that refusing is another small but powerful action against plastic pollution.  

Don’t need that extra cup? Saying “no” means one less item in landfill. Who knows what we could do together? 

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