Plastic Free July
Thank you for joining the Middleburg Sustainability Committee in participating in Plastic Free July. Your efforts prevent litter, improve water quality, save wildlife and may even improve the health of you and your family! Here are some ideas to get you started thinking about how to reduce single-use plastics during Plastic-Free July.
Just say no
To a bag when buying a small number of items that are easy to carry.
To plastic straws, drink stirrers and lids if the cup/container works on its own.
To sales receipts unless the receipt is needed for reimbursement, taxes or etc. Quite a bit of receipt paper is actually a mix of paper and plastic.
To extra packets of ketchup, soy sauce, hot sauce and similar single-serving items
To carry out utensils for meals consumed at home
To unwanted promotional items. Is yet another plastic water bottle going to sit in the basement unused? Turn it down along with the refrigerator magnet that won’t stick to the refrigerator that’s covered in custom cabinetry.
To unneeded individually packaged servings. Individual servings make sense for Halloween trick-or-treaters. Individual servings produce extra single-use plastic waste for applesauce going on dinner plates for a family of four.
To “just-in-case” sizes, colors and shipments when buying online. Due to the pandemic, many retailers no longer put returned clothing, shoes and other items back into stock. Instead, the returned items go straight to the landfill, wasting plastic in the products. For clothing, the plastic often includes the fabric itself, buttons, zippers, and hang tag fasteners. In addition, the clothing is often wrapped and shipped in plastic.
To unnecessary water that requires waterproof packaging. Hand soap, dish soap, laundry soap, shampoo, and even conditioner are available in solid bars or powders.
To balloons, especially mylar balloons. Not only are the balloons made of plastic, so are the ribbons that hold them. Balloon ribbons get caught in seaweed and frequently wash up on East coast beaches during and after storms. Substitute potted flowers or other reusable decorations.
To plastic egg cartons
Substitute reusable, returnable and refillable
Reusable storage containers or reusable beeswax wrap replaces plastic bags or plastic wrap
Reusable produce bags replace single-use plastic bags for vegetables, fruits and other produce
Returnable glass bottles replace plastic or cardboard cartons (which contain plastic) for milk
Refills or the largest size available replaces multiple small containers. The larger size can be used to refill smaller containers
Personal, reusable cups replace disposable cups at the coffee shop
Containers for spa water, reusable water bottles and thermoses (like a Yeti) replace individual waters in plastic bottles
Reusable plates, cups and utensils replace paper and plastic plates, cups and utensils for picnics, tailgates and other outings
Reusable grocery bags are the poster children for this category. Cardboard boxes work wonderfully as well.
Growlers and kegs take the place of individual bottles or cans of beer, cider and other beverages
Wash cloths and soap replace “disposable” wipes and make up remover pads
Electric razors replace disposable razors and razor blades enclosed in plastic
Reusable leather, cotton, wool and rubber gloves replace synthetic, disposable gloves for cleaning, gardening, outdoor chores, protection and warmth
Repurpose and reuse
Save wrapping paper, bows, ribbon and gift bags for the next gift/holiday. Wrapping paper is often actually plastic or coated in plastic. Most bows, ribbons and gift bags are made from plastic.
Save plastic wrapping materials like bubble wrap and packing peanuts for future use. Many clubs, stores and other businesses are also happy to have them
Save containers with lids filled with popcorn, horse and dog treats, supplements and other products. They come in many sizes and have many uses from bringing flowers home from the farm market or store to carrying water or cleaning supplies to keeping bird seed safe from mice.
Reuse existing plastic bags as doggie poop bags
Dog food and horse food bags make great trash can liners. These bags may look like paper on the outside, but they typically contain at least one layer of plastic.
Reuse the cotton that comes in supplement containers. It is great to use with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
Reuse plastic clips that seal bread bags
Plant fiber, clay (terracotta), cow manure, cardboard, and wood are just a few of the alternatives to plastic for starting seedlings, growing plants and creating gardens
Hemp, jute, sisal and cotton are natural alternatives to plastic rope and twine. The original hemp rope will even break safely if a horse tries to get out of its cross-ties. (Plastic rope often will not.)
Silk, cotton, wool, paper raffia, linen and burlap are all natural alternatives to plastic ribbon
Wooden toothpicks, silk dental floss and water flossers are all alternatives to plastic toothpicks, tooth cleaners and dental floss. Wooden toothpicks work for baking and decorating as well
Honeycomb cut cardboard, packing paper, “mushroom” packaging and even newspaper cushion fragile objects for storing or shipping
Real cotton balls, cotton swabs and make up remover pads are still available and a natural alternative to plastic “cotton balls”, Q-tips and make up remover pads