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The Best Swap You'll Make This Plastic-Free July

June 16, 2024

Reusable glass water bottle and stainless steel straw on a wooden table with 'Plastic-Free July' written on a chalkboard.

As we dive into Plastic-Free July, it's the perfect time to rethink our daily habits and make more sustainable choices. Plastic pollution is a significant issue that affects our environment, and every small step we take can make a big difference. This month is all about finding easy and lasting swaps for your everyday essentials. Here are ten of the best swaps you can make this Plastic-Free July.

Key Takeaways

  • Reusable shopping bags can significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste you produce.
  • Switching to a reusable water bottle helps minimize single-use plastic consumption.
  • Using a reusable coffee cup is an easy way to cut down on disposable cup waste.
  • Reusable straws are a simple yet effective way to reduce plastic straw pollution.
  • Opting for a bamboo toothbrush is a great alternative to plastic toothbrushes.

1. Reusable Shopping Bags

Take Reusable Shopping Bags Out with You

In many countries, there’s a charge for single-use plastic shopping bags, so hopefully, you’re already in the habit of taking reusable bags out when you go shopping. Try to get into the routine of having reusable bags with you whenever you go out – this way you’ll never get caught out.

Buy Fresh Produce from Local Shops

Instead of taking the plastic shopping bags offered at checkout, bring your own reusable cloth bags. They can easily be stored in your car so you never forget them while shopping, plus many can be thrown right into your washing machine if they get dirty. Another alternative is to use a backpack, and it's more convenient to carry, too!

Durability and Biodegradability

Reusable shopping bags made from materials such as cotton or jute are not only durable but also biodegradable. This makes them an excellent choice for those looking to reduce their environmental footprint.

Multi-purpose Use

Small plastic bags and envelopes can be reused several times for collecting salads and herbs from the allotment and storing them in the fridge. This practice not only reduces waste but also promotes a more sustainable lifestyle.

Ethical and Space-saving Options

If you need to purchase items for your reusable kit, consider brands that are ethically made and save tons of space. For instance, Stojo collapsible cups, containers, and straws are excellent choices. You can build your own bundle in their online store, and grab a Passion Lilie tote (or several) to complete your set.

2. Reusable Water Bottles

Stylish reusable water bottle on a wooden table with a green plant in the background, promoting eco-friendly choices.

Carrying a reusable water bottle everywhere you go ensures that you will never need to turn to plastic bottles again. Besides being more sustainable, many reusable bottles can keep your drink colder or hotter for longer periods of time than plastic bottles, and they come in various sizes, colors, and styles. Single-use plastic water bottles are a major source of plastic pollution. According to Water UK, the average person uses 150 bottles of water a year – that’s an average of three per week! If just one in 10 British people refilled one bottle a week, it would keep 340 million bottles out of landfills and waterways. Now imagine the global impact if everyone swapped to reusable water bottles!

3. Reusable Coffee Cups

From Starbucks alone, we threw away 4 billion coffee cups in 2017. That’s insane. Most of the paper cups you receive at coffee shops are actually lined with plastic, which means they’re NOT recyclable in most facilities in the United States. So, most coffee cups just wind up in the landfill. Thankfully, there are a bunch of options when it comes to avoiding these single-use plastics.

The Environmental Impact

Plastic takeaway cups are generally unrecyclable and non-compostable due to the plastic lining inside. That’s a lot of waste for a quick caffeine fix. If your workplace uses plastic-lined disposable cups, keep a ceramic cup, thermos, or jar at your desk! After all, the most sustainable reusable cup is the one you already own!

Benefits of Reusable Coffee Cups

If you’re someone who loves their takeaway tea or coffee, one of the easiest plastic-free swaps is to buy a reusable travel cup made from recycled and recyclable plastic, stainless steel, bamboo, or glass. Many cafes and coffee shops now offer discounts to people who bring their own mugs, meaning that you can quickly make back the price of your reusable cup and then save money with every purchase.

Practical Tips for Making the Switch

Confession: I am not a morning person, and I’m barely a person at all until I’ve had my fresh morning coffee. Always being in a mad rush, I tend to forget my reusable cup (even when I’ve left it in plain sight). When I do, I give myself two options:

  1. Give it a miss (no chance)
  2. Dine-in, and use a proper cup (I mean, I’m going to polish off that liquid motivation in a matter of minutes anyway!)

4. Reusable Straws

Colorful reusable straws made from stainless steel and bamboo on a wooden table with a smoothie glass.

The Environmental Impact

Did you know in the U.S. alone, over 500 million straws are used every single day? That’s an average of 1.6 straws per person! Plastic straws are basically impossible to recycle because almost no curbside program accepts them. They’re simply too small and can clog machinery. Swap single-use plastic straws for a reusable variety to significantly reduce this waste.

Types of Reusable Straws

There are many different options nowadays — from metal to silicone to bamboo. Use them for drinks at home, but don’t forget to also bring your straw along when you go out to eat. Here are some popular types:

  • Metal Straws: Durable and easy to clean.
  • Silicone Straws: Flexible and safe for children.
  • Bamboo Straws: Eco-friendly and biodegradable.

Creating a Reusable Kit

The top four single-use plastics are plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups, and straws. Set an achievable goal to eliminate these plastics from your life during Plastic Free July by creating a “reusable” kit to keep in your car. Grab a washable to-go container, cutlery, straw, coffee tumbler, and a water bottle to keep in a reusable tote bag.

Additional Benefits

While you might be able to easily avoid a straw for water or tea, many summery drinks are made way better with a straw. So a convenient, portable, reusable straw is a painless way to kick off your No Plastic July. Their signature design telescopes so you can easily adjust the length of the straw, and it comes with a cleaner. All of Net Zero Co‘s products are shipped in plastic-free packaging, but the best part is that every order plants a tree in partnership with Eden Reforestation Projects which fights poverty and reverses deforestation!

5. Swap Your Toothbrush

Eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush on a white counter with a potted plant, promoting sustainable choices for Plastic-Free July.

Why Switch to a Bamboo Toothbrush?

Did you know every toothbrush ever created is still in existence? Billions of plastic toothbrushes end up in landfills every year. This Plastic-Free July, consider swapping your toothbrush for one made of sustainably sourced bamboo. A bamboo toothbrush can be composted, so you don’t have to worry about your old brush sticking around for all eternity.

Benefits of Bamboo Toothbrushes

  • Eco-Friendly: Bamboo is a renewable resource that grows quickly and requires minimal resources.
  • Biodegradable: Unlike plastic, bamboo decomposes naturally, reducing landfill waste.
  • Sustainable: Many bamboo toothbrushes are made from sustainably sourced bamboo, ensuring minimal environmental impact.

How to Dispose of Your Bamboo Toothbrush

  1. Remove the bristles: Most bamboo toothbrushes have nylon bristles that need to be removed before composting.
  2. Compost the handle: The bamboo handle can be placed in your compost bin.
  3. Recycle the bristles: Check with your local recycling program to see if they accept nylon bristles.

By making this simple switch, you contribute to a significant reduction in plastic waste. For more sustainable swaps, consider exploring options like period underwear.

6. Plastic-Free Floss

Hand holding a glass container of plastic-free floss with green leaves in the background, promoting eco-friendly dental care.

While examining oral care habits, one might overlook dental floss. Regular floss is typically plastic and often coated with PFCs, a chemical found in Teflon, making it not only environmentally harmful but also potentially toxic. Switching to a USDA Certified Bio-Based product can be a healthier and more sustainable choice.

Benefits of Plastic-Free Floss

  • Made from natural materials such as silk or corn, suitable for vegans.
  • Comes in reusable glass or stainless steel containers, reducing waste.
  • Available in plastic-free refills, promoting a zero-waste lifestyle.

Popular Brands

Flosspot offers eco-friendly dental floss options made from silk and corn. Their products are packaged in aesthetically pleasing glass containers or durable stainless steel, catering to both style and functionality.

How to Make the Switch

  1. Identify your preferred material (silk or corn-based).
  2. Purchase a starter kit with a reusable container.
  3. Opt for plastic-free refills to maintain your eco-friendly routine.

By making this simple swap, individuals can significantly reduce their plastic footprint and contribute to a healthier planet. For more sustainable living tips, consider exploring period underwear options.

7. Reusable Cotton Swabs

Do you remember the picture of the sea horse holding onto a cotton swab that went viral in 2017? That’s because most cotton swabs these days are made with—plastic! These pesky single-use items seemed pretty impossible to replace until now.

Switching to bamboo cotton swabs helps reduce the amount of plastic waste. This small change can contribute to a significant decrease in environmental pollution. LastSwab is designed to replace Q-tips, which are one of the most common ocean pollutants. Built to last up to 1,000 uses, LastSwab comes in two versions—the basic for cleaning and the beauty for makeup application.

For those looking to make a broader impact, consider integrating other sustainable products into your routine, such as period underwear for women. This not only supports a plastic-free lifestyle but also promotes overall environmental health.

8. Switch to Bar Soap

Switching to bar soap is a simple yet impactful way to reduce plastic waste in the bathroom. For a small room, the bathroom can certainly generate a significant amount of waste. One effective method to avoid excess plastic bottles is to opt for waterless products. The primary ingredient in many cleaning and beauty products is water, which you can easily add at home.

By choosing bars of soap in recyclable packaging instead of body wash in plastic bottles, you not only help the environment but also save money in the long run. Bar soaps tend to last longer and are often made from all-natural, environmentally friendly ingredients. This small change can make a big difference in reducing your plastic footprint.

9. Ditch Detergent Bottles

Switching to plastic-free alternatives in the laundry room is a significant step towards sustainability. Traditional detergent bottles contribute immensely to plastic waste. Instead, consider using innovative solutions like detergent strips. These strips are compact, easy to use, and highly effective in cleaning clothes. They eliminate the need for bulky plastic bottles, thus reducing plastic pollution.

Well Earth Goods, a family-owned shop in Oregon, offers high-quality, zero-plastic laundry detergent strips. These strips are not only eco-friendly but also convenient. They are fragrance-free, paraben-free, phosphate-free, and hypoallergenic, making them suitable for all skin types. Additionally, they are biodegradable and vegan, ensuring minimal environmental impact.

For those looking to make a sustainable switch, Well Earth Goods provides an excellent option. Their detergent strips come in plastic-free packaging and are shipped without any plastic materials. This makes them a perfect choice for anyone aiming to reduce their plastic footprint.

Moreover, using detergent strips can be a part of a broader effort to adopt sustainable menstruation practices. Products like period panties, menstrual cups, and cloth pads are also excellent alternatives to traditional, wasteful products. By making these small changes, individuals can significantly contribute to a healthier planet.

10. Zero Waste Hand Sanitizer

In the quest for a sustainable lifestyle, zero waste hand sanitizer emerges as a crucial component. Sanikind has launched a stylish, convenient, eco-friendly, and effective way to stay healthy on the go without contributing to the global single-use plastic crisis. Made from 100% recycled ocean-bound plastic, Sanikind’s stylish personal spray bottle clips right onto your key ring. Their formula is cruelty-free and approved by WHO and the FDA. The Sanikind refill comes in a 16oz aluminum bottle, keeping everything #PlasticFree.

For those looking for the best ecofriendly way to manage your monthly period, consider exploring options like silicone cups and reusable pads. Additionally, period underwear can be a sustainable choice. 


As we conclude our exploration of the best swaps for Plastic-Free July, it is evident that small, thoughtful changes can collectively make a significant impact. By adopting sustainable alternatives, we not only contribute to the health of our planet but also inspire those around us to rethink their consumption habits. The journey towards a plastic-free lifestyle is a continuous one, requiring commitment and community effort. Let us embrace these changes, share our progress, and encourage others to join us in making a lasting difference. Every step taken is a step towards a more sustainable future.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Plastic-Free July?

Plastic-Free July is a global movement that encourages people to reduce their plastic consumption by making simple, sustainable swaps throughout the month of July.

Why should I participate in Plastic-Free July?

Participating in Plastic-Free July helps reduce plastic pollution, promotes sustainable living, and can lead to lasting habits that benefit the environment.

What are some easy swaps to make for Plastic-Free July?

Some easy swaps include using reusable shopping bags, water bottles, coffee cups, straws, and switching to plastic-free personal care items like toothbrushes, floss, and bar soap.

How can I remember to bring my reusable items?

Try keeping reusable items like shopping bags, water bottles, and coffee cups in convenient places like your car, bag, or near your front door to help you remember them.

Are there any health benefits to reducing plastic use?

Yes, reducing plastic use can lower your exposure to harmful chemicals found in some plastics, which can have health benefits.

How can I encourage others to join Plastic-Free July?

Share your own swaps and successes on social media, talk to friends and family about the benefits, and lead by example to inspire others to make sustainable changes.

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