Plastic Free July - Simple Swaps

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It's Plastic Free July! Want some tips to find out how you can reduce plastic waste?

The good news is, anyone can get involved. You can start out small, or really challenge yourself!

In July 2019:

  • 257,802 New Zealanders took part in Plastic Free July Aotearoa the challenge to refuse single use plastic.
  • the government implemented a ban on single use plastic shopping bags
  • the two main NZ supermarket chains encouraged the use of reusable containers in store
  • reusable cup swap schemes by Ideal Cup and Again and Again expanded around the country.

So, what’s left to do? A lot, in fact.
The COVID-19 Level 4 restrictions meant 20 million coffee cups did not get consumed and thrown away after being used once. Hooray! However, it also meant an increase in the use of disposable items such as gloves and masks, which were often littered after use, as well as concerns from some about how to serve customers using reusable coffee cups.

Let’s make Plastic Free July 2020 a time to return to a new normal, reassess how much single use plastic we consume and make some simple swaps.

Get your reusable coffee cup and water bottle back out of the cupboard. Find out where your nearest bulk bin store is and start shopping packaging free. Last but not least on your next grocery shop see if there are any items you buy in plastic that you can swap to buying in glass, cardboard or in a can.

Jam, peanut butter, mayonnaise and simmer sauces are all sold in either plastic or glass jars. Choose brands sold in glass jars, which are often also New Zealand brands, to support local and do good for the environment at the same time. When you have scraped the last bit of peanut butter out of the jar work out how to reuse the jar as many times as possible before it goes in the recycling bin.

You could:

  • Donate them to groups around the country who make jams and marmalades for foodbanks or try your local op shop.
  • Create your own reusable coffee cup with rubber bands and a jar (or ask your local café if you can create a box of them for their customers buying coffee on the go)
  • Make your own beauty or cleaning products and package them in glass jars. These can make great gifts too.
  • Use the jars to sort and store miscellaneous household item such as drawing pins, small toys, pens.

It is also easy to make a simple swap for cleaning product containers. Look for brands that offer refill stations so you can use the bottle over and over again. Or buy laundry powder in a cardboard box with no plastic scoop included. Those brands that don’t include a scoop include instructions on tablespoons of laundry powder needed per load.

If soft drinks are regularly on your shopping list, a soda stream could be a good investment to save you money while reducing your plastic bottle use. Syrups for flavouring can be made from lemon, feijoa or even rosehip! Even without a soda stream, a kombucha or ginger beer bug can supply you with a steady supply of refreshing fizziness. You could also consider buying drinks in aluminium cans, which get made back into aluminium cans an infinite number of times.


Simple Swaps 

Here are some ideas on simple swaps in the bathroom. The bathroom is full of single use plastics which can be swapped for non-plastic or refillable alternatives.

  • Swap your liquid soap for a simple bar of soap
  • Swap out makeup wipes and wet wipes for flannels and reusable makeup wipes
  • Swap your plastic shaver for a metal one – they last a lifetime
  • Swap out a shampoo bottle for a shampoo bar. One bar can last as long as 3 bottles of shampoo
  • Use bamboo cotton buds instead of plastic ones

All of these swaps are easy to do, so why not give them a go this Plastic Free July?!

Plastic Free July Bathroom 2020

For more ideas and to join the plastic free July challenge go to Plastic Free July