This July, the Bee Kind team took part in the Plastic Free July challenge. We spent the past 31 days refusing plastics in all aspects of our lives, and in doing so, found creative ways to navigate around a disposable consumer society.
We're sharing our top 25 tips that helped us succeed in this past month, in the hopes to inspire you to live your own plastic free lifestyle! From sustainable fashion to eco-friendly beach days and everything in between, we've got you covered!
In this list, we recommend some of our favourite plastic free swaps and ideas, but remember that the most sustainable option is to use up what you have first before purchasing more.
The Essentials For a Plastic Free Beach Day
- Take reusable water bottles and containers with you!
Use reef-safe sunscreen. Did you know that sunscreens can be made with plastics that wash off directly to the ocean? Yuck! Choose zinc based sunscreens and avoid ingredients like ‘polycarbonate’, ‘polyesters’, ‘oxybenzone’, ‘avobenzone’, ‘octisalate’, ‘octocrylene’, ‘homosalate’, or ‘octinoxate’.
- Keep our beaches a no smoke zone. Always throw away cigarette butts, even if they’re not yours. They are made of plastic and make up one of the leading types of plastic pollution in our oceans. The whales thank you!
Image credit: Fashion Revolution
Plastic Free Fashion
- Ditch chemical fabric softeners! Instead use half a cup of vinegar and a few drops of essential oils. Give it a go, we promise the vinegar won't make your clothes smell like a jar of pickles.
- Naturally remove a stain with baking soda and vinegar. No harsh chemicals or plastic bottles here!
- Replace plastic dryer sheets with wool dryer balls. Once you try these, you’ll never go back. You can even add your own scent with essential oils.
- Shop at your local thrift store to give clothes another life, and find some gently used goods for a great price.
- Many clothes are made with synthetic materials like spandex, polyester etc. Keep an eye out for cotton or linen alternatives.
Plastic Free Kitchen
- Reuse jam and salsa jars for storage. We love using old pasta sauce jars for bringing our iced coffees around town.
- Skip the straw. Need we say more? This is a classic example of an unnecessary single use plastic item for many individuals, unless needed for those with disabilities of course!
- Say no to teabags. Did you know that most tea bags are made of plastic, which can steep into your morning brew?! Instead, opt for loose leaf teas which can be bought in bulk at a lower cost.
- Cut up an old towel into little cloths to use instead of paper towels (which often come wrapped in plastic!) Alternatively, Swedish dishcloths can be reused to clean spills and messes.
Replace plastic wrap and zip lock bags with reusable alternatives. We recommend reusable silicone bags and beeswax wraps. Keep food fresher longer while saving money and the planet!
- Ditch plastic sponges that release microplastics down the drain and into our waterways. Instead, use natural, compostable dish brushes like our FSC certified wood sets.
- Invest in reusable cutlery. Stainless steel sets are an easy find at thrift stores and can be packed away for daily commutes and lunches.
- Instead of plastic garbage bags, line a bin with biodegradable yard waste bags and give a quick rinse and spray down after each garbage day!
A Plastic Free Grocery Run
- Skip the pre-packaged fruit and veggies. Instead, choose loose produce and pack them away in a reusable produce bag. This way, you’ll also be able to pick out the freshest goods!
- Buy items in bulk and freeze for later. July is blueberry season here in British Columbia, so we stopped at a blueberry farm and froze several pounds to munch on throughout the year. Nothing beats a winter blueberry pie.
- Bring your own reusable grocery bags- it's a no brainer!
- Pack an extra large beeswax wrap on your next run to the bakery. Perfect for a fresh loaf!
- We often see people using a plastic bag for only a handful of goods. Instead, make the sacrifice of carrying a couple handfuls without a bag. A couple minutes of inconvenience are worth preventing the consumption of a plastic bag that will remain for hundreds of years.
Plastic Free Bathroom
- Swap bottled shampoo, conditioner and body wash for solid bars! Don't pay another dime for watered down ‘poo!
- Use a biodegradable toothbrush and dental floss. Did you know that every plastic toothbrush you have used in your lifetime still exists? Keep that smile plastic free!
- Try the fan favourite menstrual cup. While intimidating at first, we absolutely swear by reusable silicone cups. Marie-Kondo your tampon collection!
- Look out for micro-beads in bathroom products like facial scrubs, body washes and toothpaste. These plastic beads pass directly down the drain and into our oceans.
Plastic Free July was definitely a challenge, and while we weren’t always perfect in our endeavours, we know that collectively, we still made a difference. At the end of the day, making plastic free swaps can be easy, affordable and convenient.
We don't need everyone to be perfect, we just need as many people trying their very best to care for our planet and health!
Do you have any other plastic free tips to share? Leave us a comment!