Plastic Free July: Eco-friendly Ideas for Sustainable Living

The UK generates approximately five million tonnes of plastic each year, which is 20 times more plastic than we used 50 years ago.  From plastic bottles to carrier bags, every year the world throws away enough plastic to go around the globe five times*.

Many of us are increasingly concerned about the amount of plastic waste we generate. So, if you’re looking for ways to reduce the amount of plastic you consume – get involved with Plastic Free July. It’s a global movement that’s raising awareness of plastic pollution issues and encouraging the nation to become part of the solution.

From small steps you can take to reduce the amount of single-use plastic you use in the home, at work or at school, to inspiring over three hundred million participants across 177 countries, Plastic Free July challenges Brits to find great alternatives to single-use plastic to build a better planet.

We’ve gathered together some eco-friendly ideas on how you can minimise your use of plastic – read on for our plastic-free sustainable living tips.

Say ‘no’ to single-use takeaway cups

We’re a nation of coffee and tea lovers – and a cuppa to kick start us on the morning commute is a terrific way to begin your day.  If you can’t say no to a latte, but want to say no to single-use takeaway cups, opt for an environmentally-friendly reusable alternative, such as this pretty bamboo cup.

Manufactured from renewable bamboo fibre it’s an affordable way to save the cup your daily latte is served in from going to a landfill site. It’s even dishwasher safe with a non-drip lid to prevent spills as you go about your busy life.

Choose reusable water bottles

The Eatwell Guide recommends that an adult should aim to consume 1.2 to 1.5 litres of water each day. To reach our water consumption targets, many of us choose to purchase single-use bottles of water when we are out and about, only to throw them away once they are empty.

Plastic Free July is encouraging Brits to refuse to use single-use plastic bottles and instead opt for a sustainable alternative.  Stainless steel bottles, such as this understated, yet elegant alternative from Marks and Spencer is a steal at just £9.50 and can be used again and again to keep your water cool and quench your thirst.

There are even sustainable drinking bottles that help you to keep track of the amount of water you’ve consumed. Try this BPA-free reusable bottle that shows if your water consumption is on target.

Protect the planet and celebrate in style

With social distancing measures currently looking to be fully lifted on July 19, many of us are planning a summer party to celebrate a special occasion. And with just a little creativity you can decorate your party venue with sustainable decorations and balloons.

Choose this pretty spotted bunting, made from cotton, which is perfect for wedding and birthday celebrations. The bunting is fully machine washable and can be used repeatedly at parties for years to come.

For truly sustainable bunting, why not have a go at making your own? You’ll need:

  • Some pretty cotton fabric
  • Ruler
  • Chalk
  • Pinking shears
  • String or twine
  • A sewing machine

Follow these simple instructions and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to create your own plastic-free party decorations. And since no party is complete without balloons, opt for a pack of multi-coloured ones that are biodegradable and made from natural, organic latex.

Swap out plastic-packaged bath products

Switching from a plastic bottle of shower gel to a bar of soap is a quick way to reduce your use of single-use plastic.  Many soap bars can be purchased minus the plastic packaging – we love these fabulously scented Nuddy Bars, which leave your skin soft, smooth and smelling like peppermint and mango, lime and lemon or pink grapefruit. What’s more, all the packaging is plastic-free, and the soaps are all cruelty-free, vegan and SLS free.

Shampoo bars also offer a sustainable alternative to plastic bottles – and this new vegan bar from Lush, which includes clove oil for a fresh clean, is one of our favourites. If you want to make the switch to plastic-free hair products, shampoo bars are a fantastic way to get started.

Join the refill revolution

A quick glance around your local supermarket will show just how much plastic packaging is used. We can all do out bit by opting to shop as package free as possible.  There is a rising number of package-free stores in the UK where dried goods such as nuts and flour can be purchased using refillable containers. Find a package-free grocery store near you.

Choose fruit and vegetables that are not pre-packaged and take your empty washing-up liquid and handwash bottles to be refilled at package-free stores.

If you haven’t got a refill shop near you, take your own containers to your local butchers and bakery and bring home your produce without the cellophane or plastic wrapping.

Refuse to use plastic straws

As bars and cafes reopen, the use of plastic straws is set to rise. Many establishments are making the switch to paper straws, but if your local still use plastic drinking straws, ask for your drink to be served without one.

If you prefer to drink using a straw there are plenty of sustainable, reusable alternatives made from glass, stainless steel and bamboo. There are even telescopic versions available, made from food-grade stainless steel, that can be stored easily in your bag or added to a keychain.

Go plastic-free today for a sustainable tomorrow

While these suggestions may seem like a small thing, if we all commit to making these changes, we will make a massive difference as a global community. To find out more about Plastic Free July and get involved, visit the website.