In 2011, Plastic Free July began in earnest by a small group of people in Australia. Over the past few years, it has grown into a movement involving millions of people! Reducing consumption of plastic is critical to the health of the planet and in particular the oceans. Unfortunately, scientists estimate that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans. The vast majority of this plastic comes from land and is blown by winds out to sea.

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In case you aren’t familiar with Plastic Free July, here’s a little information about it and some ways you can participate:

Plastic Free July raises awareness of the problems of single-use disposable plastic and challenges people to do something about it. Participants are encouraged to refuse to use or acquire all single-use plastic for the period of a day, week, or ideally the entire month of July.  If that sounds too daunting, participants can opt to refuse the top 4 single use plastic items, which are: plastic bags, water bottles, to-go coffee cups and lids, and straws. 

Here are some easy ways to cut down on plastics:

Take your own cutlery

Rather than using plastic cutlery when you eat out, you can instead use your own cutlery. Keep them in your bag or purse, wrapped in a cloth napkin and closed with a rubber band. If you want to get fancy, some stores sell travel cutlery kits now. By using your own cutlery, you’ll greatly reduce the amount of plastic waste you are creating. Plus isn’t it much more pleasant to eat off of real cutlery?!

Take your own reusable straw

Straws can seem benign, but in fact they are very problematic once they are in the environment. Straws are not recyclable, so every single one you use ends up clogging the planet with plastic waste. Rather than using a straw, either refuse to take one, or use your own reusable straw. There are stainless steel, glass and bamboo ones available in shops, so make the switch!

Use a coffee tumbler or cup

Whether you get a coffee on the go once a week or every day, this is another simple switch. Either ask for your coffee “for here” in a ceramic mug, or bring your own reusable coffee tumbler to use “to go”. On top of being more sustainable, tumblers keep your coffee warm for longer. Try the same for cold drinks, you can use a reusable cup or bottle, rather than a plastic cup.

Buy products in glass or metal bottles

When shopping for groceries or other items, choose items packaged in glass or metal bottles and other vessels. These recycle more effectively and they are also easier to reuse in the home for other purposes. Many oil brands will package their oils in plastic bottles, but we do not. At La Española we always use glass or metal to bottle our olive oils.

Make litterless lunches

A packed lunch can save you a lot of money, but packaging with plastic bags and plastic wrap is really unsustainable for the environment. Instead you can reuse containers from other foods, like yogurt. You can also use food papers or beeswax wraps for wrapping. Shops often stock high quality stainless steel containers of different shapes and sizes which you can buy to transition to litterless lunch packing year round.

Carry a reusable shopping bag

Rather than taking a plastic bag at a store, bring your own reusable bag with you. There are so many options for these bags that everyone should be able to find one they like. Just keep the bag inside your purse or bag, so that you always have one when you need it. Simple!

There are just a few of the simple changes you can make in your home and kitchen habits to use less plastic. And, after doing these for a month, you’ll learn how easy it is to do this year round, and, in turn, help sustain the health of the planet.