We can’t recycle our way out of our plastic problem. What small steps can you take to reduce single-use plastic?
This month, join a global movement to reduce plastic waste on our streets, in our oceans, and in landfills by taking the Plastic Free July Challenge.
The annual event is a fun, easy pledge to reduce plastic and see the power of collective action. More than 120 million people worldwide have already committed to reducing their disposable plastic use during July and beyond.
Here are ideas to avoid single-use plastics. Are you just getting started? Start small!
Paper or plastic? And, double-bagged? The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year, according to the NRDC. Look for ways you can swap out single-use bags for reusable ones. Make it easy on yourself by putting them in convenient places. Keep them in your trunk, and fold one up in your purse too.
You can also consider swapping out plastic produce bags with reusable ones, or skip the bag entirely for small quantities.
2. Reusable Cups
Use reusable cups and bottles for water and drinks on the go. Consider ceramic, glass, and stainless steel for all of your beverages.
At coffee shops, ask the barista to use your mug or see if they have ceramic mugs you can use in-house.
2.Food on the Go
It’s challenging to find convenient, take-out and snack food in plastic-free containers. For work and road trips, pack your food, drinks, and silverware instead of buying out. Also, consider keeping a kit in your car with a water bottle, coffee cup, reusable straw, napkin, tupperware container, and silverware so that you can make those easy swaps on the go.
Or, skip take-out when you can, and dine in to avoid the plastic container and disposable cutlery. If you are someone who always has leftovers at restaurants, consider bringing your own containers.
3.Bulk and Refill Containers
Avoid individually packaged goods when possible and look for bulk alternatives. For shelf-stable items like pasta or rice, look for bigger containers to avoid the extra packaging and to save money. Also, look to see if your grocery store has scoop-your-own bulk options and if they let you bring your own containers. Locally, Pantry Goods offers plastic-free pantry refills delivered to your home.
Kansas City does have refill stores that allow you to bring in containers for household goods like laundry soap, dish soap, and shampoo. Stores include Soap Refill Station (Kansas City, MO), Suds Refillery (Shawnee, KS) and The Greener Home (Parkville, MO).
4. Plastic-Free Alternatives
Instead of buying single-use household items, look for products designed without plastic or with reuse in mind.
Consider swapping out plastic bottled soap for bar soaps. Or, look for plastic-free dental care products such as toothpaste tablets and bamboo-based floss. You can also buy plastic-free razors.
For cleaning, look for cleaning refill kits or make your own products with bulk ingredients and reusable bottles.
In the kitchen, look for cling wrap alternatives like beeswax wraps and silicone lids.
With a little bit of creativity, you can easily plan a party that’s free from balloons and other harmful single-use plastics. Popular decorations that can be reused include bunting, tassels, tissue pom poms, lanterns, fresh flowers, and more.
Take the Plastic Free July Challenge
Find more tips to go plastic-free and take the challenge at plasticfreejuly.org.
Locally, you can also join the Kansas City Zoo’s Plastic Free EcoChallenge to give up one type of single-use plastic each day.