Plastic Free July 2019: do your bit to reduce plastic waste this month

Want to get involved in Plastic Free July, but don't know where to start? Here's how you can do your bit to reduce plastic waste this month – and beyond

Plastic free July: a selection of cacti and succulents seen from a crows eye view on a coffee table
(Image credit: Ikea)

Interested in reducing your environmental impact? If you've already swapped your plastic water bottle for something stylish and stainless steel, pass on plastic straws and wouldn't be seen doing the food shop without your cotton tote, you may be looking for new ideas and inspiration to help you, help the planet. Well, Plastic Free July could be just the challenge you've been looking for.

What is Plastic Free July?

As the name might suggest, Plastic Free July is a month dedicated to the conscious reduction of plastic waste. 

The campaign, lead by Plastic Free Foundation, aims to draw attention to the impacts of single use plastics on the planet, encouraging people all over the world to dedicate a month of the year to avoiding plastic as much as possible.

The not-for-profit movement has gained momentum over recent years and, this year, we're excited to get involved by reducing our own plastic waste and encouraging others to do the same.

It's easier than you might imagine. But, if you're not sure where to get started, you'll find our top tips for getting started, below.

How can I reduce my plastic consumption?

Once you start thinking, consciously, about your plastic consumption, you might start noticing exactly how much you consume on a daily basis. Don't let this put you off. Instead, take time to think of practical alternatives:

  • Opt for loose veg – one of the easiest changes you can make when consciously decreasing your plastic consumption is opting for loose veg over pre-packed options. While it may take a tiny bit of extra effort while in the supermarket, it's more than worth it for the non-recyclable plastic you'll save. Plus, loose options tend to be cheaper. And look out for developments in your local supermarket – we've already reported on how Waitrose is experimenting with attempting to cut plastic waste by encouraging customers to bring in their own containers.
  • Shop farmers' markets – if your local supermarket doesn't offer a whole host of plastic free options, you might consider sourcing ingredients from your local farmers' market. This is especially handy for salad and other leafy veg.
  • Exchange shampoo and shower gels – swapping plastic packaged shampoo and shower gel for packaging free alternatives is another easy way to reduce your consumption. Instead, opt for bars of soap that come in cardboard packaging, or shop the naked ranges available from stores such as Lush.
  • Take your own lunch to work – in addition to working out cheaper, taking your own lunch to work means avoiding the plastics that sandwiches and salads tend to come packaged in.
  • Visit your local bulk store – while it's easy to opt for loose fruit and veg, buying other essentials such as pasta, rice and cereal plastic free can prove a little more challenging. Try sourcing from your local zero waste store, where you'll find everything from cupboard essentials to spices, cereals, wine and even olive oil. Just make sure to take along your own reusable containers to get your goods home.
  • Shop second hand – avoid the plastic packaging that clothes, home accessories and other items tend to be delivered in, by opting to go second hand. Visit your local charity shop or vintage store or organise a swap shop with friends if you're in need of something.
  • Head over to Plastic Free July for more advice and information on why (and how) you should reduce your plastic consumption. 

Looking for more advice and inspiration?

Emily Shaw

Emily first (temporarily) joined the Real Homes team while interning on her summer break from university. After graduating, she worked on several publications before joining Real Homes as Staff Writer full time in mid-2018. She left the brand in 2020 to pursue another career, but still loves a second-hand bargain and sourcing unique finds to make her rented flat reflect her personality.