Plastic Free July Ideas: Make the Swap

Plastic Free July Ideas: Make the Swap

  1. Use shampoo and conditioner bars

By switching from shampoo and conditioner bottles to shampoo and conditioner bars, you’ll save up to 5 plastic bottles from being made – per bar!

Ethique has a shampoo bar for every hair type. But if you’re not quite ready to join us in raising the bar, try our solid-to-liquid shampoo and conditioner concentrates.

  1. Stop using wet wipes and sheet masks

Wet wipes and sheet masks are made from non-compostable, un-recyclable, non-biodegradable materials, and most of them are also made from cotton which is incredibly land, pesticide and water thirsty.

The best-case scenario is that they’ll end up in landfills, even the “biodegradable” ones. As bad as that sounds, it’s better than wet wipes being flushed down the toilet, where they contribute to blockages so significant that they can make raw sewage leak onto the street (vom).

A plastic-free solution? A face cloth or reusable wipe or make your home hydrating or brightening face mask at home. It really is that simple.

  1. Switch baking paper for silicone baking sheets

This is an easy one. As a keen baker myself, I can honestly vouch for silicone baking sheets. Baked goodies don’t stick, you won’t burn yourself, and they’re super easy to clean. Otherwise, you could just use a bit of elbow grease and wash your trays and pans.

  1. BYO coffee cup

Confession: I am not a morning person, and I’m barely a person at all until I’ve had my fresh morning coffee. Always being in a mad rush, I tend to forget my reusable cup (even when I’ve left it in plain sight). When I do, I give myself two options:

1) give it a miss (no chance)
2) dine-in, and use a proper cup (I mean, I’m going to polish off that liquid motivation in a matter of minutes anyway!)

Plastic takeaway cups are generally unrecyclable and non-compostable due to the plastic lining inside. That’s a lot of a waste for a quick caffeine fix.

If your workplace uses plastic-lined disposable cups (ugh), keep a ceramic cup, thermos, or jar at your desk! After all, the most sustainable reusable cup is the one you already own!

  1. Bake your own dog treats

Every good dog deserves a treat. And if your pup is anything like my fur-baby, you’ve filled up the treat jar and noticed how few treats the plastic packaging actually contains.

Baking your own dog treats is easy, cheap, and safe. Most ingredients can be found in bulk food stores (which cuts down on even more plastic – woohoo!). This recipe from The Great British Bake Off is a great one to get you started.

Don’t fancy yourself a baker? Visit your local pet shop. They tend to have plastic-free “pick ‘n’ mix” style treats available. Just be careful if you’re taking your furry friend with you – they’re cute little thieves, and you might be buying more than you planned.

  1. Choose meaningful souvenirs

Yes, souvenirs are a great reminder that you have in fact done some cool stuff. But do you really need another cheap plastic fridge magnet or koala keyring?

Instead, visit the local markets – you’ll find loads of artsy treasures and will be supporting the place you’re visiting. They make for a far more interesting conversation starter than a poorly painted plastic magnet.

  1. Buy good quality clothing that is designed to last

Cheap clothes tend to be made of polyester. Polyester is plastic, and it won’t do you any favors keeping you warm in winter. Natural fibers are definitely the way to go – they trap heat, expel moisture and minimize smell, meaning you need fewer layers.

Price is a significant barrier for many of us, especially when you’re buying new. So a handy trick is to shop second hand or keep an eye out for buy, swap and sell websites for good quality items made from natural materials when you really need to introduce a new item to your wardrobe.

When buying new gear, check out the guarantee of quality and choose items that can be repaired.

  1. Grow your own herbs

A few sprigs of (expensive) herbs in thick plastic packaging is ridiculous. Especially when you realize how easy they are to grow – and that’s coming from someone who can kill a cactus.

I like to line my herb babies along the kitchen windowsill for easy access and for a reminder to water them. And the aroma they give off? *chefs kiss*

If you prefer dried herbs, opt for ones from the bulk food store where you can bring your own container, or choose the ones in paper or cardboard packaging without a plastic lining.

  1. Buy bulk bin snacks

Most bulk food stores let you bring your own containers, they’re often cheaper or the same price as supermarkets, and they have really good snacks such as dried fruit, protein balls and crisps. And all free from plastic!

  1. Reusable decorations

Making your own decorations out of materials you already own is a win. But you can also consider choosing secondhand decorations. I scored a ridiculous amount online, secondhand for $20 last year… and I’ll have them for years and years to come.

To be fair, I did find myself buying a few new pieces too – which is okay. I just made sure I chose quality pieces that will last.

Low-impact holiday events don’t have to be all about DIY.

How to make your Plastic Free July swap stick!

So you’re armed with plastic-free ideas and ready to roll. But how long will it be until you sneak back into old habits? The key is to start easy. Choose one achievable eco goal that you can focus on – nothing too drastic and life-changing. Then, when that goal has become your new norm, add another one in there and so on.

Studies show that it takes 30 days to build a habit, so why not set reminders or have an eco-buddy – someone to lean on for motivation.

And lastly, an important one I feel, make it fun! The money you’ve saved from not buying stuff can go towards an experience instead! Or make shopping fun – visit local markets with a friend and make a morning out of it.

Does Plastic Free July make a difference?

Absolutely! Plastic-Free July makes an enormous difference in the impact we make. All our collective actions do!

For example, by simply switching from bottled shampoo to Ethique shampoo bars, you've helped us save 35+ Million plastic bottles.

Looking to make a swap?

If you’d like some help with your low-impact journey, drop us an email – our team of Miracle Workers are ready to help you out.