Advice

Plastic Free July: 7 Ways We Are Reducing Single-Use Plastics


If you follow along with me on social media or if you’re an avid reader of the blog, you’ll know that we have been making a conscious effort over the last few years to reduce the number of single-use plastics we bring into our home. Now, I’m going to start here by saying that I’m by no means perfect. I certainly haven’t nailed this but I have changed a number of things that have helped reduce our footprint and can safely say that I have a new mentality when it comes to waste and plastics.

I heard about Plastic Free July a couple of years ago and I knew right away that I wanted to help spread the word and share some ways that we have made changes in our daily lives to do our part as a family! For those of you who may not know, Plastic Free July originally started as a small month-long, movement in Australia 8 years ago (with a goal to reduce single-use plastic consumption in everyday life), that has now turned into a global movement (engaging over a million people in 150 countries!) encouraging people to reuse single-use plastics in hopes to be a part of the solution to plastic pollution. By getting on board with this movement we will work toward helping to clean up our communities and supporting the movement to grow beyond our local streets!

Below are a few ways we’ve worked towards reducing single-use plastics in our home! I hope that you’re able to take some of these ideas and incorporate them into your household as well! Even the smallest of changes can make a big impact over time!

1. Unwrapped Life

A few years ago, I made the switch to natural deodorant (read all about my journey with that, here!) and after I accomplished that I wanted to make the switch to more natural products and next on my list was natural shampoo and conditioner and that’s when I came across Unwrapped Life! Unwrapped Life’s products are made from naturally-derived active ingredients and scented with 100% essential oils and just so happen to be vegan!

Not only do their shampoo and conditioner bars work wonders for my hair type but I also fell in love with their products on an environmentally conscious level as well as they are plastic-free and have no packaging!

Jillian Harris Plastic Free July
Jillian Harris Plastic Free July
Jillian Harris Plastic Free July
Jillian Harris Plastic Free July

2. Reusable Bags

Whenever I go grocery shopping I like to bring my own reusable bags (when we are allowed to, of course. I know there are some restrictions around this still due to COVID in some areas) to pack my groceries home in. I LOVE the French Market bags from Dreamy White Lifestyle and Market Bags for my produce.

Jillian Harris Plastic Free July
Jillian Harris Plastic Free July

3. Reusable Ziploc Bags

On the topic of reusable market and produce bags, I have been LOVING the Stasher reusable silicone bags! Instead of using single-use plastic sandwich bags opt for a reusable alternative instead! The cherry on top? These bags are not only non-toxic, but they are microwave/dishwasher safe and can be stored in the fridge and freezer!

4. Reusable Coffee Cups

I try SO HARD to bring my Yeti mug with me everywhere I go but for some reason, this one is always hard to remember! So, if I happen to stop by Starbucks to grab a coffee and I’ve forgotten my travel mug, I always make sure to buy one of their reusable coffee cups with a lid … in fact, I’ll buy 5 of them at a time as I like to bring them home and give them to our visitors! For example, if my dad comes over and wants a coffee for the road, I’ll use one of these cups instead of a single-use disposable cup!

Jillian Harris Plastic Free July

5. Goldilocks Wraps

In our household, we’ve eliminated plastic wraps thanks to Goldilocks Wraps! Goldilocks Wraps are reusable beeswax wraps that are eco-friendly and a brilliant alternative to plastic wrap! I use them for pretty much everything besides tofu (which I prefer to store in a reusable glass container to keep the moisture in!).

Jillian Harris Plastic Free July
Jillian Harris Plastic Free July
Jillian Harris Plastic Free July

6. Reusable Straws

I have ALL sorts of reusable straws in our home from metal to glass – they are perfect for everyday use and super easy to clean as they normally come with their own brush and sometimes (depending on the straw!) I even pop mine in the dishwasher!

Jillian Harris Plastic Free July
Jillian Harris x Etsy Summer Collection
Jillian Harris x Etsy Summer Collection

7. Zero Waste Stores

Zero-waste stores seem to be popping up everywhere lately and I’m LOVING it! We have one in Kelowna that just opened up called Footprints – an organic grocery store where the packaging is reusable, refillable, or compostable! They really have everything there from local eggs and produce to reusable straws, handmade soap, and much more! If you don’t have a zero-waste store in your area, the next best thing would be a bulk food store!

Jillian Harris Plastic Free July

8. Glass Containers for Storage

Speaking of bulk food stores, one of my favourite places to get baking necessities and nuts in Kelowna is Bulk Barn! They allow you to bring in your own container and fill it up with their bulk foods! Since we were introduced to this, we now store all of the bulk items in our home in glass containers in our pantry! Not only does this help eliminate plastic but it also looks really pretty as well!

Jillian Harris Pastic Free July
Jillian Harris Pastic Free July
Jillian Harris Pastic Free July

For those of you that are curious about finding out how our garbage is disposed of, be sure to check out our Trash Talk vlog below. Last year, Easton took a trip to the local landfill to ask some questions; some of the answers may shock you! 🤭 

What are some ways you’re incorporating Plastic Free July into your home? Make sure to share your ideas with us below!

xo

Jilly


Leave a Reply

  1. Every little bit helps and you are making huge changes! Congrats Jillian and family. Let’s hope more and more people follow in your footsteps. One question, I’ve seen on your Instagram stories when it’s a birthday celebration, you have lots of balloons, do you plan on not using them going forward. I’ve made that change and use reusable decorations. Can you get environmentally safe balloons? Thanks Jillian.

  2. Hi Jill, great article! I’m going to try and make some changes for July (and beyond ) too. I was curious which of the Unwrapped Life shampoo and condition bars you use for your hair?

    1. I use and love the Balancer bar! I tried a different one and didn’t like it as much. But maybe just for my hair? I have straight medium thickness hair.

  3. I also use fabric snack bags for lunch kits. They can hold nuts, cookies, goldfish, strawberries etc. I actually sew them myself and use the simple pattern to teach beginners in my grade 6 and 7 sewing classes at school. That’s my attempt to teach a life skill whilst teaching kids to care about their environment.

  4. Love This! We are trying to do better in our home too – all the things you mentioned – food wraps, reusable straws,, and shopping with reusable grocery (and produce) bags. We are also carrying travel face cloths instead of throw away wipes or napkins (for my messy 2 year old) and hoping to delve into the world of more plastic free personal care products (looking into toothbrush options.) We can always do better but… “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly” – Anne Marie Bonneau.

  5. These are all great ideas to get started. Curious where you get your glass jars from? I’ve purchased some before and it seemed like the nuts or flour didn’t last as long compared to when they were sealed in bags. Any tips for freshness or does the type of jar/lid make a difference?

  6. These are all great ideas! We have been trying to go plastic free/minimize our waste, and reusable grocery bags, produce bags, beeswax wrap and bulk barn have been a huge help. The most noticeable impact came when we started composting. We use a service that picks up our compost once a month (which we have to pay $25 a month for, although I sure wish our city provided composting for free), and since they compost in a commercial facility we can throw in dairy and meat scraps (including butcher wrap). I even found compostable floss!
    I also love my menstrual cup, and there is a store in my neighbourhood where I refill glass bottles with locally made shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and body lotion.
    I also find that cooking from scratch saves a lot of waste, and we really try not to order take-out since it always comes in tons of styrofoam or plastic containers.
    Once we got on a roll with our environmental efforts we hav actually found it to be a fun challenge, and next year we hope to have a garden half as lovely as yours, and an electric car is definitely in our near future!

  7. Thank you so much for bringing awareness to this topic. These 7 are truly some of the easiest things everyone can do. There’s things like bread packaged in plastic that I haven’t been able to avoid BUT you can reuse the bag by using it as a produce baggie or for buying nuts/grains in bulk.

  8. Do you have any ideas for a replacement for doggie poop bags?

    I love the idea of going plastic free where I can. All the suggestions you’ve provided have been amazing!

  9. Just bought some unwrapped life products (I’m bummed I missed you discount code ? ) and can’t wait to try them out!
    Best of luck with going plastic free. It’s a tough one! Be sure to let us know if you find any plastic free make up lines. That’s my next transition.

  10. Something I started doing when I forget my reusable coffee mug is get my beverage or food “for here”. The drawback is that it might take 10 minutes out of the day, but the plus is I can use that time to respond to emails and it makes me slow down and take a breath. I started doing this after a trip to Portugal, where this is the “norm” . They wouldn’t even think of taking their coffee to go.
    Additionally, I stopped ordering take-out from places that have plastic or styrofoam take away containers. Either sit and eat, or cook at home.
    I also never leave the house without my reusable water bottle. EVER!
    While these changes have helped reduce plastic waste, they have also helped me slow down and enjoy my food and beverages more. When did we get so busy we couldn’t bother to sit and savor our food. It isn’t healthy to eat in a rush. When I sit at a local cafe there are so many people there to meet someone who get their order in a paper cup and lid and end up sitting for an hour, long after they have finished their beverage. These are wasted opportunities. I think most people don’t know this option exists, but most cafes will always have glasses, cutlery, and china mugs and plates. Some will even encourage it and give a cup discount. Starbucks is a strong advocate of “for here” and their dishes are available in all of their standard sizes (short to Venti), and rigorously sanitized if this is something you worry about. Did you know they do not let their partners get their shift beverages and food in disposable bags and cups? It’s a step in the right direction.
    My other strategies are to always leave my reusable shopping bags and mugs by the door once I am finished with them. If its next to the door, I grab them next time I go to the car, regardless of if I plan to use them that day. This way they are always there for me.

  11. I checked out the Unwrapped Life online becuase I just love the idea behind it. I went to purchase a shampoo bar and the shave bar (so excited about this concept!), but when I got to the checkout, the PFJilly15 code wasn’t valid on the items in my cart for some reason. Is it only for a specific product/scent?

  12. I recently purchased the Goldilocks Wraps – so far, so good! Thanks for recommending these. I’m also researching bulk food store options in my area. Canada seems much more on the ball than the U.S. on this issue. Go, Canada!

  13. Jillian, I follow you on Instagram and your plastic free journey has inspired me to start my own and be more conscious of my use of single use plastics. I have already ordered my plastic free shampoo and conditioner from Lush and cannot wait to try them out. Luckily here in Williams Lake the city had recently started allowing chip bags, ziplocs and other single use plastics to be recycled. Thank you for the inspiration!

  14. I’m been following your Instagram stories for a while on this subject. I find it great we really need to do our part in reducing the plastic we use. I’m all for recycling too. My husband used to work for a large recycling plan in Vancouver for a couple of years. The reality is they end still throwing alot of away in the landfill. So I think of recycling in a different way then most. So most of the hard work with the sorting of our recycling is a waste. I guess reducing our plastic use is way to go.

  15. I think it’s great to try eliminate plastic & make changes on how we shop/buy things.
    Lets not forget to actually not buy/consume so much also. How many items do you have in your home that you don’t use on a regular basis?
    A suggestion… maybe don’t receive so many products from companies & suggest a donation to a local charity?
    A good visual on how much other “stuff” ends up in the landfill is take a trip to your local dump. Seeing is believing.
    We still have a long way to go in trying to be more miniamalist in our lives.

    I live in Victoria & have my own business helping seniors live at home. At times it has been necessary where they need to move to a facility. Emptying the house is a gigantic process. The gift I can leave my sons is to not accumulate “stuff”. Set the example for the next generations.

    Thanks

    Renata

    1. I often do ask for a charitable donation instead to reduce the number of items coming into our home! Easton also recently took a trip to the landfill to do a little Q&A and we can’t WAIT to share the info with everyone! xo

  16. Hi Team Jilllian,
    Over the past few years, I’ve casually emailed Sephora to see if/when they will implement a recycling program. Their response has always been: that’s a great idea, but we don’t have one.
    I throw out so many plastic products (which my city’s recycling program won’t accept) and it’s really difficult to wash/rinse (so they also get tossed).
    Any thoughts on using your social media influence to put pressure/promote a petition for this movement?

  17. Hey, Jillian
    We have recently started using Tru Earth, a new laundry detergent which is amazing for the environment and still cleans clothes well.
    We are back to using our reusable grocery bags now that they are allowed and glass is our friend. I keep looking for new ideas so thanks for the article to help with that.

  18. Amazing post Jillian! I had never heard of plastic free July until you talked about it last year, but I definitely got on board with it as much as possible this year. Another great item you could add to this list is Pela phone cases! They’re completely compostable phone cases with 0 plastic made from flax (and they’re a Canadian company!) 🙂

  19. I have been using the Unwrapped Life’s products since you first introduced them to your followers. They are amazing. I had thin hair and very little volume and that changed. My hair is now bouncy and full. Also my bathroom always smell like a spa. The fragrances are divine. I am a migraine sufferer and the smells of the bars are non triggering for me. I love them and the fact that I am helping the environment…bonus!!! Thank you

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