Plastic Free July doesn't have to be some big, overwhelming project. You can start out small, or really challenge yourself. Here are some of the ways to dip your toe in. Let us know if you try any of these starter tips.
Garbage Audit - Before you start making changes, it can be so helpful to have an idea of what waste shows up in your bins. Saving and cataloging even just a week’s worth of trash AND recycling will give you plenty of insight on where to start. Do you have lots of food waste? Look into composting options. Multiple beauty and cleaning product bottles? Hang onto an empty bottle and head over to your nearest refilling station. (Psst, Acadiana! That's us! Your friends at Sans Paquet!) Plastic grocery bags piling up waiting to be recycled at the store? Start using reusable bags. Our weekly waste pick ups make it easy for us to fall into the comfort of "Out of Sight, Out of Mind", and a trash audit helps get the headspace ready for your super hero changes.
Reusable Grocery Bags - Look, I know it seems like a LOT to start bringing your own bags during a pandemic. One of the ways that I made the switch to reusables was to use collapsable totes, placed into the empty cart at the start of the shopping trip. When it came time to check out, I would just place the bagless groceries back into the bins. These totes are easy to disinfect, and can be placed directly into your trunk. Want to use bags? Throw them into the washing machine after a trip to the store. We store ours in the car so we don’t have to remember to grab them on the way out the door. Replace plastic produce bags with reusable ones. Produce bags are easily made at home with repurposed lace and netting scraps, or find some locally made ones at the shop.
Plastic Free Dental Care - Every toothbrush & toothpaste tube you have ever used still exists in a landfill somewhere. Bamboo toothbrushes are compostable and come without any plastic packaging at all, and while some brands do still use plastic bristles, the Brush With Bamboo brand in stock at the shop has bio-based bristles. Replacing your traditional toothpaste is a fun and slightly weird journey. Toothpaste tabs are small tablets that you chew to turn into a paste for brushing. You can also find toothpaste powder, and DIY pastes if the tabs are not your thing. Also - did you know compostable silk floss in refillable containers is a thing? Well, you do now!
Buy less new things - Before making a purchase, stop and think: Is there a better alternative? Do I need this? Can I borrow this? Can I buy it second hand? There are multiple apps available for second hand clothing, apps for refurbished electronics, and even websites to help you fix your own items. Nothing says SuperParent like wielding aloft the tiny screwdriver that fixes the kid's Nintendo controller drag!
Stop throwing out soap bottles - We are cleaning surfaces and washing hands more than ever. Those single use plastics add up. Switching to bars (soaps, shampoos, and lotions are all available in bar form) or refilling your current bottles stops the flow of plastic bottles into the waste stream.
Caffeination Station - Does your day not even start until there is caffeine? Same. Nicole has a pretty rad matcha latte recipe she will be sharing with you soon. At my house Plastic Free coffee looks more like my french press or my espresso machine + milk steamer. Real talk - sometimes you just need a barista to make you that perfect latte, or you want an ice cold Red Bull. What can you do? Bring your own to go cup to your favorite local cafe, or sit and relax while you enjoy your latte at a table. I know some places have restrictions about the reusable cups right now, what better time to try another locally owned cafe? And that Red Bull? Look into a Soda Stream and make your own! You can even make your own colas and seltzer water. (Do I use mine a lot for sangria too? You betcha!)
Food Storage - This is a pretty broad topic, but let me hit you with a few of my favorite changes you can make here. Bring your lunch in reusable containers. Want a cute cutlery holder to feel like a fancy Plastic Free superstar? We gotchu. Collapsable containers that squish flat, or small tins that fit in my bag come in clutch for restaurant leftovers. Say "Goodbye" to parchment paper and "Hello" to silicone baking sheet liners. So long plastic wrap - heyyy new beeswax wrap friends. Y'all this last one is my favorite. Cloth bowl covers... aka drawstring napkins. They're machine washable, come in cute fabric options galore and even have multiple size options. One, if not all, of these things has got to call to your soul.
Let me know if you do any of these already. Starting a new one not listed here? I love hearing about it. Want to talk about Big Plastic, intersectional environmentalism or climate justice? I am here for it.
Brandi Comeaux is 1/2 of the Sans Paquet power duo,
mother of 2, and veterinary hospital manager.
Follow along with her adventures in waste
reduction and real life on instagram @brandi_beandip