( r e )ly on these 28 ideas to help you participate in plastic-free july anytime of the year

why go plastic-free?

Plastic-free July is an amazing time of the year. For one month millions of people come together and commit to cutting back on their plastic usage. It’s a beautiful symbol of unity and people working towards a common goal. And while it’s almost always easier to make a change when you have the support and participation of others, you can go plastic-free any time of the year! You don’t need to wait around for July.

At ( r e ) ˣ, we chose to make products out of plastic because we were so sick of seeing the absurd amount of single-use plastic that infected our oceans and continued to increase each year.

Today, there are an estimated 170 trillion particles of plastic currently floating in the ocean and that number has been dramatically increasing since 2006.

The increase in ocean plastic results in harm to hundreds of thousands of marine species that ingest the plastic, those that suffer life-threatening injuries from being entangled with it, and those that end up suffocating. The plastic ingested by marine life works its way up the food chain until we’re eating food that was eating plastic.

Furthermore, the plastic washes up on beaches making them unusable for humans or marine life; the food system is destroyed as marine animals die early; and the water is contaminated as the plastic breaks down into microscopic pieces that cannot be filtered out.

Let’s also not forget the toxic chemicals added to plastic that are really not good for human health.

We know it can seem impossible at times to ditch plastic, but the future of Earth doesn’t include it. We need to start making a change now by swapping out one piece of plastic at a time.

Are you ready?

how did july become plastic-free july?

We think it’s important to note that plastic-free July began with one person: Rebecca Prince-Ruiz.

She began plastic-free July as a friendly office challenge in a small local government office in Western Australia in 2011. The challenge she proposed to her co-workers? Rethink the way you use plastic and avoid all single-use plastic items for 30 days.

Why July? Is there something special about the month, are more people likely to participate? Nope! July was the month following the original team’s challenge and it stuck!

Today, Plastic-Free July is a smaller initiative of a broader organization — The Plastic Free Foundation — also founded by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz. The goal of both organizations is to work towards a future without plastic waste, coincidentally the same founding principle behind Paulina’s vision for ( r e ) ˣ.

An estimated 140 million people around the world participated in Plastic-Free July last year (2022) with staggering impacts:

  • 300 million kgs of plastic were kept out of the environment.
  • 90% of participants made at least one permanent change.
  • Household recycling and waste were reduced by 4.1%.

what does plastic-free july look like in 2023?

These days, we’re all aware of the plastic problem.

The reason  ( r e ) ˣ uses plastic trash for our hangers, and why countless other sustainable and zero waste brands exist is because a record-breaking 87% of people support policies and initiatives to reduce plastic waste. 

The Plastic-Free Foundation acts as the voice of every sustainability enthusiast, internationally advocating for change, and seeing results around the world.

  • Nairobi endorsed a treaty to end plastic waste by the end of 2024.
  • Team members at NASA are encouraged to participate in Plastic-Free July.
  • Italian company Barilla switched to plastic-free packaging.
  • The NGO Gaia campaigned across the entire continent of Africa to put an end to single-use plastics and to encourage plastic bag policies.
  • The city of Fremantle in Australia became the first local government office to declare July officially ‘Plastic Free July’.

This entire movement started with one person. 

 

The ultimate goal of this movement is to help people rethink their relationship with plastic. If all you do this Plastic-Free July is to observe how much plastic is in your life, that’s great! If you decide to be totally plastic-free from here on out, that’s also great! Change comes with awareness. Awareness starts with you. 

the most important way to prepare yourself for plastic-free july

 

One more note before we get to our *super insightful and not overwhelming at all* 28 ways to cut back on plastic, we want to start by giving you the most important piece of advice for finding success during plastic-free July.

 

The easiest way to be more sustainable is to use what you already have. 

 

It’s so simple, yet as you start learning about all the amazing sustainable products and brands that exist, it can be easy to feel like your house needs to fit a certain aesthetic or your life should be a vibe or you should have absolutely no plastic anywhere. 

 

That is absolutely not the case. The best way to be more sustainable is to incorporate sustainable habits slowly as they fit into your life.

  • When your sponge starts to smell disgusting, purchase a sustainable replacement.
  • When you use the last of your laundry detergent, replace it with a sustainable alternative.
  • When your refrigerator breaks, replace it with a more energy-efficient option. 

 

There will always be pressure to purchase, but the goal of living a sustainable lifestyle is to try to purchase only what you need

28 ideas to participate in plastic-free july 2023

take me to the 28 ideas

Our last piece of advice is to search for a refill store/zero waste store/ natural store/ co-op near you before starting on your plastic-free journey. These stores are often locally owned and operated and can save you a ton of time because everything you need is already in one place.

Okay, get ready! We’re rooting for you to have an amazing Plastic-Free July! Here are our 28 tips, divided up by category of course. 

plastic-free july ideas for the kitchen: 

1. Dishwasher Detergent

Plastic-free alternatives: tablets, powder, dishwasher tablets (black-owned) refills from local refill stores.

2. Dish Soap
Plastic-free alternatives: dish soap bar, dish soap tablets, liquid refill from local refill store.
3. Food Storage
Plastic-free alternatives: beeswax wraps, vegan ‘beeswax’ wraps, Tupperware you already have. 
4. Disposable Cutlery, plates, and cups
Disposable plates, cups, and silverware are convenient and quick but come with a lot of rules around recycling and composting. You don’t have to go out and buy anything new but try to prioritize reusables over disposables. If you need travel ware, MiiR is a team favorite brand.
5. Ziplock Bags
Plastic-free alternatives: stasher bags, GRN reusable ziplock bags (black-owned). 
6. Kitchen Sponges
Plastic-free alternatives: compostable plant-based sponges, plant-fiber brushes, swedish dish cloths.
7. Plastic-Wrapped Produce
Have you ever noticed how much plastic produce comes in? For Plastic-Free July, try purchasing your produce with 0 plastic wrapping. 

    plastic-free july ideas for the bathroom

    1. Shampoo and conditioner
    Plastic-free alternatives: shampoo & conditioner solid bars, waterless shampoo concentrate, liquid refills. Also, check out your local whole foods!
    2. Hand Soap
    Plastic-free alternatives: soap bars, refill tablets, liquid refills in compostable packaging, liquid refill from local refill stores.
    Plastic-reduced alternatives: Bulk refill.
    3. Razor
    Plastic-free alternatives: safety razors (preferably with a blade recycling program) like Albatross or Leaf Shave.
    4. Body Scrubber
    Plastic-free alternatives: hands, washcloth, loofah.
    5. Toothbrush
    A bamboo toothbrush is the best option for the planet, however, our team understands every tooth is different. Bamboo doesn’t work for everyone and that’s okay! 
    Plastic-reduced toothbrush options: bamboo (black-owned), Suri electric toothbrush, silicone toothbrush, Preserve (made from recycled yogurt cups), 
    6. Toilet Paper
    Plastic-free/planet-friendly alternatives: Who Gives A Crap (bamboo TP and recycled paper TP), Reel (black-owned, bamboo) Plant Paper (bamboo).
    7. Body Soap
    Plastic-free alternative: Go local and find a soap maker near you, Etsy, liquid refills.

      plastic-free ideas for the home (in general)

      1. Laundry
      Plastic-free alternatives: Meliora laundry powder, Dropps laundry pods, Wool dryer balls (black-owned, help your laundry dry faster), Kind Laundry Sheets (asian-owned), and all our friends at Celsious’ Laundry Products (black-owned).
      2. Cleaning Products
      Plastic-free alternatives: Blueland multi-purpose cleaning tablets, Meliora Gentle All Purpose Cleaner Powder, Etee All Purpose Cleaner Concentrate, PUR concentrate (black-owned).
      3. Reusable Water Bottles
      Get out your stash of water bottles from every corner of your house, wash them, and get them ready! If you make only one goal for Plastic-Free July, try to avoid purchasing a plastic water bottle. 
      4. Paper towels
      Plastic-free alternatives: old towels/washcloths/t-shirts, bamboo paper towels, deadstock linen towels (black-owned), and ‘cute’ reusable towels. You can also pull out any cloth napkins you never use.
      5. Pens & stationary
      First, find a pen recycling program near you so you can ensure your pens get properly recycled. Second, next time you need a pen, prioritize a (more) sustainable option. As for your stationary, envelopes and junk mail have become your new friends. 
      Plastic-free alternatives: partially biodegradable, 50% less plastic, refillable pens, pens made from 89% recycled water bottle plastic. Read about more eco-friendly pens at Tree Hugger!
      6. ( r e ) ˣ recycled plastic hangers
      We take ocean and polluted plastic (i.e. plastic that for some strange reason didn’t make it to a landfill) and instead of sending it back to a landfill (where it will sit for hundreds+ years) or an incinerator (where all the toxins will be released into the air) we turn it into a useful, functional, household product that’s designed to last. Shop kids’ hangers or adult hangers.
      7. Jars are your new friend
      Get really comfortable with reusing and repurposing your glass jars into food storage, extra storage, and more. Prioritize materials that are recyclable/compostable over plastic! 

        plastic-free ideas for your lifestyle

        1. Plastic bags no mo’

        Plastic-free alternatives: From grocery bags to produce bags to shopping bags there are a lot of areas to cut the plastic from our habits. Grab some of those reusable grocery bags you’ve gotten for free from every fair you’ve been to and put them to good use. Skip the plastic produce bags altogether *gasp* or check out some reusable muslin options (black-owned). 

        2. Rethink your makeup and beauty products

        Welcome to the advanced level of giving up plastic. If you’re up for the challenge, note how much of your makeup, beauty, and cosmetic products are plastic (all of them). Make a list of alternative options and as you run out of each item, purchase a sustainable refill.

        3. Here are some places to get started: 

        3. Period products

        Plastic-free alternatives: period-proof undies, swimwear, and more (black-owned), menstrual cup, menstrual disc, period undies

        4. To-go coffee cups

        Plastic-free alternatives: This would be a good time to find local coffee shops that encourage reusables (and maybe even offer discounts). Use a travel mug you already have but we know coffee tastes only as good as the mug it comes in. MiiR has great options whatever your coffee canister needs are. 

        5. Examine your wardrobe

        So many of our clothes are made with plastic (polyester, nylon, rayon, etc). For Plastic-Free July (and beyond) make a conscious effort to buy only what you need, but most importantly, what you’ll rewear for years to come. Prioritize second-hand items and slow fashion brands (if possible). 

        6. Purchase with sustainability in mind

        An ‘easy’ step towards reducing your plastic intake can simply be looking at the packaging when purchasing. No matter what you’re shopping for, focus on purchasing items with packaging that can be upcycled, composted, or recycle like cardboard, glass, aluminum, and stainless steel. 

        7. Use what you already have

        One of the biggest takeaways from plastic-free july (for us) is just to examine how much we mindlessly consume. PFJ is a chance to explore how much we purchase and why and specifically how much of that comes in plastic. If you do nothing else this month, try to use what you already have, don’t buy anything unless you need it.

        This is it, you’ve reached the end of our 28 ideas to participate in Plastic-Free July. Whatever participation looks like for you, don’t do it alone. Rope in a friend, a neighbor, a relative, or some stranger on the internet because everything (okay, most things) is easier (and better) when you have someone in your corner. And remember, we’re always in your corner.

         

        *note* None of these product recommendations are affiliate links, they are products our team personally likes, uses, or follows. We have linked to each individual website because even though we sell ( r e ) ˣ hangers on Amazon, it’s always best (for the small business) to purchase directly from the brand whenever possible. 

         

        Back to blog