What is Plastic Free July?
The Plastic Free July initiative started in 2011 by the Western Metropolitan Regional Council in Western Australia. According to the Plastic Free July website, “the initiative has rapidly grown into a global movement engaging millions of people in more than 170 countries around the world.”
The movement has gained traction largely because it has become a challenge that encourages people and businesses to break the habit of regularly purchasing single-use plastics. In 2019, 250 million people participated and the organization provided free resources to over 5,000 schools and 20,000 community organizations and businesses to empower change locally. The results of the Plastic Free July initiative have been amazing! According to the 2019 Annual Report, 825 million kg of single-use plastic was avoided as a result of the challenge. Additionally, the challenge has had a lasting impact with 16% of participants adopting long term plastic waste avoidance behaviors.
Bathroom Ideas for Plastic Free July
If the above information has you super excited about Plastic Free July but you’re also feeling a bit overwhelmed by the idea of overhauling your life, then it might help to start small and explore the option of reducing plastic in one area of your home. One easy place to start your plastic-free adventure is the bathroom. You can focus on transitioning away from using plastic items slowly instead of purging everything all at once.
Disclaimer: Once you start your bathroom audit, you may become overwhelmed and acutely aware of how much plastic fills this single room in your home. We've compiled this list to help you avoid the overwhelm and feel empowered to make change. Below is our list of items to think about while you complete your bathroom audit.
Plastic Bottles & Containers
Many bathroom items that you buy on a regular basis come in plastic bottles. Lotion, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bathroom cleaners, spray bottles, and hand soap are just a few. Try swapping your body wash and liquid hand soap for a bar of soap. What about your shampoo and conditioner? You can actually do the same! Numerous companies now create amazing, natural bars of shampoo and conditioner to eliminate this source of plastic in your bathroom. Plastic bottles are not typically something that we reuse but are an item that we can certainly use more than once. Try a quick internet search to see if there are any refill stores near you. Here you can refill and reuse the current plastic containers that you have.
Toothpaste & Toothbrushes
Then there is your morning and evening routine of brushing your teeth. A simple task that we don't often think much about, until now. Many of us have a plastic toothbrush that we pick up a couple times a day, grab its partner (toothpaste), also wrapped in plastic and get to brushing. Not to worry, there are simple quick swaps for these culprits as well. Bamboo toothbrushes are a great alternative that have the same lifetime as your current plastic toothbrush and are biodegradable when they are past their prime. As for your tube of toothpaste try looking into glass containers, toothpaste tablets or again your local refill store.
Nearly all makeup comes in a plastic container and is wrapped in plastic packaging. As you dig through your makeup bag, you will begin to realize that nearly everything has one or more plastic elements. What’s even more frightening is that the actual makeup itself can often have harmful plastics in the form of microbeads or microplastics that are commonly found in lip glosses, eye shadows, and more. If you are interested in learning where you can purchase makeup that is free from plastic, learn more at Beat the Micro Bead.
Now let’s get weird and totally change gears, shall we! I hate to tell you this but your favorite adult toys hidden on the top shelf of your bathroom might also have plastic elements. No need to worry because eco-friendly sex toys are totally a thing. Glass dildo’s and solar-powered vibrators are all the rage right now. Don’t mind our shameless plug here - if you want your sexual experience to be mess-free during your period, get yourself a nixit so you don’t have to worry about staining your beautiful white sheets ever again.
Plastic storage bins and little plastic drawers are certainly cute but they are definitely not eco-friendly. The main issue with plastic storage bins is that we often only use them for a few months or years before upgrading to something else and tossing these in the landfill which is problematic. Instead of plastic storage bins, containers, etc. consider using boxes that you have around from other items you buy. It’s totally possible to cover them in pretty paper or decorate them if you’re looking for something glam or just keep them under the sink if you’re going for a more minimalist plastic-free look.
Tampons & Pads
Prepare yourself… what you’re about to read might shock you. Did you know that there are up to 4 plastic bags worth of plastic in a packet of sanitary pads? Sanitary pads themselves are made of up to 90% plastic and even tampons contain up to 10%. Tampon applicators are now the 5th most common source of waste washing up on UK beaches.
Further, it’s estimated that in North America alone, 20 billion tampons, pads, and applicators end up in landfills annually. As they all contain plastic, they will take longer than your lifetime to biodegrade - between 500 to 800 years. In our honest opinion, this is a huge problem!
As we mentioned earlier, one way to combat this alarming issue is to switch to a plastic-free reusable menstrual cup that can be used at any time during your cycle to collect cervical mucous and period blood. This is something we really care about as a company, which is why even our packaging is plastic-free.
Here are a few other ideas that didn’t quite fit in any of the categories above. Be mindful of tiny plastic bags, one-time-use wall hooks, razors, wrappers, and ponytail holders. Take a peek around your bathroom and try to see what else you can find that could be added to this miscellaneous section. Then take these ideas to the internet and see what alternatives you are able to find. Tip: shopping locally can also help reduce the plastic involved with shipping.
Live Plastic Free In July & Beyond
If you’re pumped up and ready to conduct your bathroom audit we are excited for you (and our planet)! However, please don't go throwing away all of the perfectly good bottles, toothbrushes, toys, razors and more that you currently have. Instead, use them until the end of their life and consider a plastic-free, more eco-friendly option when it comes time to replace them.
Now, if you're feeling inspired to reduce your use of single-use plastics, snap a pic and tag us using @letsnixit and use #plasticfreejuly2020. We'd love to feature your amazing effort to make this world a better place in our Instagram stories. Remember, even making the effort to make one simple switch like discontinuing your use of pads or tampons and instead, using a reusable menstrual cup can make a huge difference for your health and for the environment. We can’t wait to see how you're making an impact!
Photo credit: Ryan Christodoulou