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How do I live without plastic?

10 tips: How can I reduce or completely avoid plastic?

 

Every year in July, millions of people around the world take up the challenge to go plastic-free. For at least one month in July. The so-called Plastic Free July originated in Australia in 2011 with the aim of getting people to rethink their plastic consumption and take a stand against plastic pollution. Even though we have all heard many tips on how to do this, the change lies often in many details of our daily lives. We would like to give you tips and inspirations about it in this post.

 

Join the global Plastic Free July movement to reduce plastic waste. We don't need to point out how devastating the plastic waste problem is for the planet, our nature and animals. You see the facts every day in the media, we also write about it in some of our blogs. However, single-use plastic is also incredibly dangerous for the human body, as it releases hormone-altering substances such as BPA, BPS and also microplastics into our organism. This was recently demonstrated by science, which warned against these substances, which were found in shocking quantities in the blood and stomachs of the majority of test participants. The Plastic Free July Challenge is therefore something we recommend to take part in all year round, not only for clean streets and clean oceans, but also for the health of all living creatures on this earth, including us humans. Would you like to be part of Plastic Free July and reduce plastic waste?

 

 

How can I reduce or completely avoid plastic?

Good news: anyone can join. You can start small or challenge yourself! Get inspired by the points below. Share the tips with your friends and colleagues and share your own challenge, namely what exactly you contribute to it with #plasticfreejuly on social media channels.

 

Download your plan "Challenge Yourself“.

 

Start with the top 4 plastic waste types you should avoid at all costs or replace with sustainable alternatives:

1. Plastic Bags

Say no to plastic bags at supermarkets and shops, bring your own cloth bag or backpack. Also with take-aways avoid the plastic bag and other disposable materials. If you forget your bag at home, buy one made of natural fibres, ethically produced cotton, jute, hemp, or recycled plastic.

2. Water Bottles

Many people buy plastic water bottles when they are out and about and throw them away after one use. Get a reusable water bottle and avoid those single-use plastic traps. Avoid buying bottles made of single-use plastic and instead bring your own water bottle everywhere to fill up water or other drinks. At aboutwater, we offer several alternatives that can even be printed with your name and logo. We only offer high quality water bottles made from sustainable, robust materials that are free from microplastics, BPA and other chemicals and plasticisers. We offer lightweight, extremely robust, attractive Glass Bottles made of Borosilicate Glass and Kavodrink Tritan Bottles. If you already own an aboutwater bottle, then post your story to #plasticfreejuly with #aboutwaterbottles instead of #singleusebottles or #saynotosingleuseplastic. These are only ideas on how we can mobilise people together to switch to plastic alternatives.

Take it a step further by providing refillable water stations in your own business or suggesting it to your boss. The sale of water and drinks in disposable bottles should also be discussed in schools, gyms and health facilities.

In most countries in Europe, tap water can be enjoyed perfectly and there are more and more refill stations. Here is a map with refill stations in Germany (you might find a similar map in your country). And if you are travelling, in big cities, faraway countries or camping, you can take a portable water filter in the form of a bottle or canister from LifeSaver with you. The Ultrafilter offers worldwide protection against contaminated water and you also travel plastic-free.

3. Take Your Coffee Mug with You

Most coffee mugs are not recycled. Bringing your own reusable coffee mug or taking the time to dine at your favourite café can make a big difference. If you have forgotten your own coffee cup to go and don't have time to consume in the café itself, at least order your coffee without plastic lids.

4. Plastic Straws

Many bars and cafés still add a plastic straw to every drink. Reduce plastic waste and protect the environment and wildlife by ordering your drink without a plastic straw or bringing your own reusable alternative.

5. Hygiene Products

For hygiene products such as soap, shampoo or men's and women's hygiene products, there are many low-cost, sustainable and fantastic alternatives to these mostly single-use plastic-based products. Solid shampoos and soaps packaged in cardboard, paper or fabric, toothbrushes made of bamboo, wood or with replaceable brush heads, razors with replaceable recyclable blades, reusable make-up removal pads, toothpaste without microplastics, tube made of recycled plastic and much more.

6. Food Packaging

Try to avoid plastic packaging in general for food and supermarket products. Choose the plastic-free alternative, loose fruits and vegetables without packaging and without plastic bags. Fruits and vegetables have their own skin as packaging, you can wash them at home or remove the skin. It is best to buy fruits and vegetables from the local farmer or at a market with your carrier bag. Organic, healthy and environmentally friendly.

Vast amounts of single-use plastic in the form of food packaging end up on supermarket shelves, in our homes and consequently end up in landfills. These products enable the fast lifestyle to which we are already too accustomed. Our industrialised system demands this lifestyle of productivity and growth at any cost, even at the expense of the health of our planet and all its inhabitants.

7. Renounce Plastic Garbage Bags

Choose not to use plastic garbage bags, because unfortunately they too end up in landfills. Think about how many plastic garbage bags you use. Whether at home or in the office and at your work-place, you can try to avoid them. How? There are some good alternatives to plastic bags and sacks, for example:

  • Lining the dustbin with a few sheets of newspaper.
  • Using certified compostable rubbish bags
  • Using the "naked" bin. The bin or bucket can simply be washed out as needed. You can avoid extra odours by: wrapping the organic waste in newspaper first
  • Composting food waste at home

8. Balloons, Decorations and Wrapping Paper

Replacing wrapping paper, balloons and other party decorations made from disposable plastic with reusable and eco-friendly alternatives is the right way to celebrate sustainably. Why not wrap presents in newspaper next time? Everyone will enjoy it if you not only think of the recipient, but also of the environment. And the surprise remains.

9. Food Storage

Cling film is unfortunately a core element in most households. Many products are also packaged with it. However, there are alternatives that are just as effective but more sustainable. Let's try to reduce plastic waste here too.

Storing and packaging food in reusable containers is a good start. You can also buy reusable silicone trays or use plates to cover food in bowls, pots and pans. There are also reusable cloth sleeves or wax sheets to store food in.

10. Buy Less

Before you buy something, consider whether you really need it, whether you need that much of it and whether it is of use. It's best to only buy things that can be reused for a long time and nothing that is only meant to be used once. Think about whether there is a more sustainable alternative. Your buying behaviour has a big impact. People are rethinking their buying behaviour more and more, they ask a friend beforehand to borrow something or buy more second-hand and especially things with a long life span.

Only 16 percent of plastic waste in Germany is reused for new products. The rest is incinerated or shipped abroad (Plastikatlas). It may sometimes seem difficult to go completely plastic-free, but a drastic reduction is definitely possible.

Zero Waste may never be possible, but we can achieve the goal of Plastic Free July - to use less single-use plastic. These are the first steps in the right direction.

If you want to explore the topic even more, we can recommend these 5 documentaries about plastic .

Sources:

www.plasticfreejuly.org/blog/top-4-plastics-to-avoid-by-the-zero-waste-chef/

www.plasticfreejuly.org/get-involved/what-you-can-do/

www.plasticfreejuly.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Plastic-Free-July_Action-Picker_Getting-started.pdf

www.the-ognc.com/lifestyle/zero-waste/plastic-free-july-tipps/

www.the-ognc.com/lifestyle/5-empfehlenswerte-dokumentationen-ueber-plastik/

www.boell.de/sites/default/files/2022-01/Boell_Plastikatlas%202019%206.Auflage_V01_kommentierbar.pdf

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