This list of 31 plastic-free products for Plastic Free July serves suggest one sustainable swap you can make every day of Plastic-Free July but also to inspire you to make more environmentally-conscious consumer decisions going forward.
Plastic Free July started in 2011 in Australia and now it challenges 170 countries around the world to reduce how much single-use plastic we use within a month so that we make more responsible decisions for the planet for the rest of the year.
Don’t let this list of plastic-free swaps guilt you into thinking you’re not doing enough!
Remember first and foremost, the most sustainable thing you can do is use what you already have to prevent creating more waste but also reduce unnecessary consumerism. I know it’s often easier said that done, especially when Wholefoods comes out with a new avocado-print grocery bag, Monoprix releases another cute Eiffel Tower pattern or Tesco drops a new shopping bag with the latest blockbuster. Don’t even get me started on M&S’s Percy Pig bags!
I digress! What I’m trying to say is, traps are set and they’re easy to fall into but the very best thing you can do for the planet is use and res-use what you already have. Finish the paper towels before you buy a set of really cute biodegradable cloths and store dry foods in the pasta sauce and olive jars you’ve just finished instead of buying a matching set of new jars.
In this list of 31 plastic-free products for Plastic-Free July I’ll be sharing items you can purchase to replace less eco-conscious items such as those sold in or using single-use plastics. I’ll also be sharing tips for how you can up-cycle or reuse what you might already have.
Without further ado here’s 31 plastic-free products for Plastic-Free July:
1. Compostable and recyclable food packaging
More and more responsible food brands are coming out with biodegradable packaging, so the next time you need to purchase food in a packet look out for ones that say biodegradable or are in a cardboard box.
In Vancouver, Canada there’s an independent coffee shop chain called Matchstick that sells their coffee beans in compostable packaging. Another example is Humble Potato Chips Who sells their potato chips in compostable bags.
In the UK there’s a crisp brand Two Farmers that have amazing flavours and are sold in compostable packaging.
If you can’t get to a bulk/dry food store then look for pasta and rice sold in cardboard boxes that contain no plastic “windows” so that it can be recycled.
2. Grow veggies from food scraps
Learn to regrow veggies from food scraps or totally from scratch with seeds to reduce the amount of plastic packing you purchase.
You can find out how to regrow lettuce and spring/green onions in my blog post here.
If this isn’t an option for you, purchase fresh fruit and vegetables with no packaging from your market or better yet a local farmers market.
3. Freeze food scraps for stock/broth
Cut back on single-use plastic in your cooking by making your own vegetable stock/broth from food scraps rather than buying it in plastic or Tetra Pak bottles.
Freeze your veggie scraps over time and when you’ve built up a suitable variation of veggie scraps add them to a pan of simmering water on the stove for about 4 hours before bottling it up for use.
4. Shop at a loose produce store
Bring your own containers to a bulk produce store where you can shop loose produce to reduce your consumption of single-use packaging.
Save money by reusing jars like I have with this pasta sauce jar.
5. Loose tea
Did you know half of the UK’s leading brands of teabags contain plastic in them? Making the switch to loose tea sold in compostable, recyclable or reusable packaging will drastically reduce the amount of plastic you could be bringing into your home.
Instead of throwing out a plastic teabag into the trash you can compost the tealeaves after you’ve made your tea.
6. Glass jar food containers
Where possible, opt to purchase food packaged in glass containers rather than single-use plastic. For example, choose a jar of olives over a plastic packet of olives so that you can recycle or better yet up-cycle that jar.
7. Reuse packaging for food storage
Whether it’s a glass jar or plastic tub, if the packaging the food you purchased came in can be reused then reuse it. This will not only save you from needing to buy additional food storage but reusing food packaging will also give the single-use plastic packaging, such as tubs of butter or cheese, a new purpose.
8. Reusable sandwich bags
Make the switch from single-use plastic sandwich bags to silicone bags that can be washed and reused.
Ziplock now has biodegradable sandwich/freezer bags if you’re on a tighter budget but still want to avoid single-use plastic.
If you do need to purchase the plastic one, try to wash them and use them again.
9. Reusable wax wraps or recyclable foil
An alternative to the previously mentioned reusable sandwich bags is wax wraps or recyclable foil if you’re on a tighter budget.
Use either to seal leftovers and replace the need for single-use plastic wrap.
10. Reusable cutlery
A set of reusable cutlery or even something as simple as a reusable bamboo spork can save you from using countless plastic cutlery when eating take-out or food on-the-go.
Our metal cutlery is a camping set from Mountain Warehouse and includes a knife, fork and spoon plus the knife has a built-in bottle cap opener. Our bamboo sporks are from earth-conscious store in England called Coconut & Cotton and from the Eden Project gift store in Cornwall, England.
11. Reusable straws glass
A single-use plastic straw can take around 200 years to break down (still just into those pesky micro plastics) and as we’ve seen from that tragic video of the turtle with the straw stuck up their nose, straws can make their way into the habits of unbeknownst creatures. If you drink with a straw you can make a simple switch to bamboo which is biodegradable, glass which is infinitely recyclable or stainless steel which has a remarkably long lifespan.
If the place you’re having a drink doesn’t have paper, pasta, wheat or plant based straws then simply refuse one as you make your order and bring your own.
My glass straws from Manchester Glassworks are my favourite because they come in different widths and lengths.
12. Reusable coffee cup
Approximately 2.5 billion single-use coffee cups are discarded around the world every day.
Not only will you be saving the planet from wasteful coffee cups you will also be saving yourself money. Starbucks offers a 10¢ discount and 25 Stars bonus when you use your own coffee cup, all the top coffee shop chains in the UK offer discounts too, whilst Canada is tackling the issue by introducing an additional cup charge for single-use cups to deter you from using them.
If you often get coffee out, keep a reusable coffee cup in the car or in your bag.
13. Reusable water bottle
Refillable water bottles aren’t just the better choice for the planet they’re also super cute and a great expression of your personal style!
Water bottle refill stations are now available at most airports, gyms and I’ve seen more and more hotels put them in their lobbies.
Hydrating your body, staying healthy and alive is the most important thing so if you are in a situation where there is no alternative to bottled water than please take the bottled water. I’ve learnt from personal experience that a nasty tummy ache or dehydration aren’t good enough excuses for refusing the odd plastic bottle.
My preferred reusable water bottle is a thermal one made of steel as they can keep liquids hot or cold which is super important for me with the varying climates I travel to. It’s such a relief to reach for cold water on an extremely hot day or a hot tea on a very cold day. Mt two favourite bottles are Dopper and Swell. I haven’t tried Chilly’s but I’ve heard good things.
14. Bamboo kitchen utensils
When in need of some new kitchen utensils such as a spatula or stirring spoon, consider purchasing bamboo ones as unlike the plastic ones they are a natural material and will biodegrade when they’ve reached the end of their lifespan.
Metal ones are a great choice too as they will last for a significant amount of time.
15. Biodegradable dish sponge and brush
Ditch the plastic dish sponges and scourers for compostable sponges and bamboo brushes.
I also use one of my bamboo pot scrubber brushes as a vegetable brush so I clean the skins so I don’t need to peel them.
16. Cleaning products
You can reduce the amount of plastic in your cleaning routine by purchasing reusable glass spray bottles and filling them with cleaning products capsules or tablets that you dilute. Some brands such as Ocean Saver have soluble packaging whilst others use recyclable or biodegradable packaging.
Don’t have the budget for reusable glass spray bottles? Keep hold of the plastic spray bottle you already have and reuse that! Even though they’re still single-use packaging, the mini Cif ecorefills that you dilute at home are still a reduced amount of plastic so keep hold of the bottles you already have so you can reuse them.
17. Biodegradable bin/trash bags
Consider using the biodegradable made for home composting/food waste for all of your rubbish/trash to reduce the amount of single-use plastic going to landfills.
If you have a dog or a baby, consider biodegradable poop and/or nappy/diaper bags.
Save money by buying biodegradable bag at pound or dollar stores.
18. Reusable shopping bags
It can take about 20 years for a single-use plastic shopping bag to break down and even then it’s into problematic micro plastics, so it’s only logical to make the switch to reusable bags.
Not only can you save the planet from extra single-use plastic waste but you can also save money as many stores around the world now charge for bags.
To stop you from getting caught out, keep a couple of bags in your car, bag/purse and by the door.
19. Thrift homeware
In need of a new picnic set or kitchenware for outdoor dining? Every year our favourite homeware stores bring out cute summer dining sets but they’re often plastic. Perhaps it’s to make them lighter for taking out on a picnic or because we can’t be trusted to use reel plates on the grass(?) Either way, consider purchasing your “new dining” set from a thrift shop instead.
Thrifting literally anything for your home will guarantee it will be unique and it saves you so much money.
When we moved to Canada I took hardly any of my kitchen items, I’d given most away to friends and family who had just moved into new homes to reduce the amount I had to move over with. When it came to getting new items in Canada we went between purchasing items in the Black Friday sale and second hand from the Salvation Army thrift stores in Vancouver. Most of our glassware as well as serving dishes and various items for baking came from the Sally Army thrift stores.
If you want to find something that isn’t plastic but is still light then look for a bamboo picnic set.
20. Reusable tissues
One reusable tissue could save you from using around 500 single-use tissues. If the tissues you’re buying come in plastic packaging this could be your gentle nudge to make the sustainable switch to reusable tissues, alternatively known as hankies!
Learn to make your own reusable hankies with my blog post tutorial here.
21. Safety razor
The next time you need to purchase a razor, consider choosing a metal safer razor over a single-use plastic razor or the kind with the replaceable plastic cartridges. A safety razor is plastic free and offers a far superior shave, not to mention they significantly reduce razor burn as bacteria is less likely to grow in a safety razor, unlike between the multiple blades of a disposable razor.
Sure the initial safety razor is an investment when you compare the upfront cost to disposable plastic razors but when 100 replacement blades costs just $15.
22. Dental Floss
Next time you reach the end of your dental floss, opt for a plastic-free alternative such as silk which is a natural material that can be composted. There are vegan alternatives available too.
Natural dental floss is usually sold in recyclable cardboard boxes or reusable glass containers.
23. Bamboo toothbrush
A bamboo toothbrush is one of the most impactful but underrated products for reducing single-use plastic in your bathroom.
Did you know that every plastic toothbrush that has ever been made still exists on the planet? It takes a minimum of 500 years for one plastic toothbrush to decompose whilst the handle of a bamboo toothbrush is 100% biodegradable.
Most large supermarkets sell a bamboo toothbrush now. I know for sure that you can get one from Wholefoods in North America and Holland and Barrett in the UK.
24. Bar of soap
Cut out single-use bottles of shower gel and hand soap in your bathroom with bars of soap. Bars of soap also last much longer than bottles of liquid soap so this simple sustainable swap can prevent a huge amount of single-use plastic bottles from entering your home.
Soap bars can be purchased in recyclable and biodegradable packaging or without any at all. Better yet, make your own bars of soap with my tutorial blog post.
25. Skincare in a glass jar
If you are flexible with your choice of skincare – i.e. you haven’t reached your late 20s and can still experiment with brands without too many repercussions – then take a look at brands that package their skincare in glass jars.
Glass in infinitely recyclable and you can reuse them at home.
UK brand, Up Circle (also available in Europe and the US) has moisturisers, lotions and scrubs in glass jars, French Brand Caudalie produces their upscale skincare in glass bottles and jars and even luxury skincare brand, Charlotte Tilbury has made the switch to glass jars for her creams and serums.
26. Biodegradable makeup sponge (beauty blender)
Eco Tools have 100% biodegradable makeup sponges, bioblenders, that can be planted when it reaches the end of its use.
The Eco Tools bioblender makeup sponge packaging is biodegradable too so you can pop it into your home composting bin! How neat is that?
I picked up an Eco Tools biodegradable bioblender sponge from Ulta Beauty. I’ve also bought it previously in the UK from Superdrug.
27. Biodegradable face mask
Face masks took centerstage when the world made a universal shift towards focusing on self-care but so many biodegradable sheet masks are unfortunately still sold in single-use plastic packaging.
Masque Bar Naturals are 99% natural sheet masks that are vegan and compostable and so is their packaging. I pick mine up from Shoppers Drug Mart.
28. Antiperspirant deodorant
Deodorant is a very personal product so I understand if you don’t want to switch up your brand but take a look to see if the one you use offers a plastic-free, reduced plastic or refillable bottle.
Wild is a great refillable deodorant brand – their refill packaging is compostable and the deodorant has natural ingredients whilst Native offers a wide variety of plastic-free deodorants.
29. Menstrual cup
Be done with single-use plastic tampon applicators and plastic lined sanitary pads and make the switch to recyclable silicone menstrual cups. You can learn more about sustainable period products in my two blog posts:
Travelling on your period with a Saalt menstrual cup.
30. Bamboo pads and wash cloths
Make the switch from single-use cotton pads sold in plastic packaging to reusable bamboo pads that are sold in plastic-free packaging.
These reusable bamboo makeup remover pads from Tayvada are my favourite and I have been using and washing them for over 2 years.
Save on single-use plastic consumption and a whole lot of room in the laundry closet/room by using dehydrated laundry detergent strips.
Tru Earth is a Canadian brand sold globally that offers an eco-conscious alternative to laundry detergent. The packaging is recyclable, the detergent is made from natural ingredients and the whole product is plastic free.
If you have any plastic-free product recommendations that others can choose instead of single-use plastic to reduce waste, then let us know in the comments below!
Do more on & for the planet, Gabriella