Reflecting on Plastic-Free July

July is an important month for us as a charity, a chance for us to use our voices to make a difference, as we celebrate Plastic-Free July. This year, we decided to launch a campaign to inform and educate our followers, by creating videos, and sharing ways to reduce the use of single-use plastics. We were joined by ambassadors, small businesses, and volunteers, who collaborated with us to highlight this important issue.

This blog is a roundup of each day’s message so you can explore how you can make small changes to cut your dependency on single-use plastic! We also made a YouTube video that compiles all 31 videos into one – you can watch that here!

Day 1 – Remember your reusable water bottle

We thought we’d start off with one of the easiest and most effective ways of helping our environment. By remembering to take your reusable water bottle whenever you go out, you will cut the number of plastic bottles entering our seas whilst also saving money! Did you know that it takes 1000 years for a plastic bottle to start to decompose in landfill?!

Day 2 – Take 3 for the Sea

Take 3 for the Sea is an idea that if every time you went to the beach (or park, or forest) you collected 3 bits of litter, we could all help to keep our environment clean and tidy. Imagine if everyone took part! Awesome Luke helped us to make the video for day 2.

Day 3 – Remember your reusable coffee cup

Reusable coffee cups are fantastic! They keep your drinks hot (or cold!), keep them from spilling and help to reduce how many disposable coffee cups are ending up in landfill! As an added bonus, lots of cafes also offer a discount when you use a reusable cup!

Day 4 – Try choosing a cone

Who doesn’t love ice cream or dairy-free sorbet?! When the sun is shining, and it’s lovely outside, having a delicious ice cream is the perfect treat. When you buy your ice cream, one way to reduce your plastic use is to choose a cone rather than a tub and plastic spoon. This might not be an option for everybody, but an easy swap if you can!

Day 5 – Recycle your old plant pots

We love being out in our gardens, but what do you do with your old plant pots? You could pass them on to friends and family, or perhaps post them on your local community page on social media, but we recently learned that you can recycle your old plant pots. Our local garden centre Dobbies offers this service. Why not see if your local garden centre offers it too?

Day 6 – Swap bottled handwash for a bar of soap

Bottled handwash has become more popular over recent years for its ease and convenience, but there’s nothing wrong with a simple bar of soap! When your handwash runs out, why not try using a bar of soap instead? Superstar Dylan starred in the video for Day 6.

Day 7 – Wax wraps

Have you ever heard of wax wraps? Made from beeswax-imbued fabric, these versatile wonders are a fantastic alternative to cling film. We have made our own, but they are widely available online and in local eco-friendly/refill shops.

Day 8 – Plastic-free party decorations

We filmed this at one of our children’s school disco, which went to great lengths to ensure all their decorations were made of paper! We love a good party but find it very frustrating how much waste there is at the end of them. This year saw the jubilee celebrations, which we loved, but the sheer amount of plastic bunting, flags, plastic coated partyware etc, was unbelievable. Have you ever used paper-based decorations? If not, the next time you throw a party, maybe you could buy, or even make some?

Day 9 – Plastic-free picnic

I think we’ve all been there, deciding to have a picnic but having nothing in the house, so pick something up on the way. The only issue with this is that practically everything is wrapped in plastic! If you are heading out on a picnic this summer, maybe you could try a plastic-free lunch! Reuse any tubs you might have, try out wax wraps, perhaps use paper bags, and don’t forget your flask or reusable water bottle!

Day 10 – Billie’s plastic-free vlog

Our wonderful Youth Ambassador Billie, made an amazing vlog for us, exploring how much single-use plastic she used in a day. Billie is a passionate eco-warrior, so tries her best not to use too much, but gives some good advice on how to recycle wrappers using Terracycle, should you have to use them, like she does in her lunchbox.

Day 11 – Take your own cutlery

If you find yourself picking up food whilst you are out, sometimes that means using plastic cutlery. Lots of shops are trying to use alternatives like wood, but an easy swap is to keep a set in your bag when you head out. You can just take some from home, or there are some compact versions available.

Day 12 – Don’t forget your reusable shopping bags

When the government introduced a charge for using plastic carrier bags, it caused a bit of a stir. But, for the most part, it has seen a welcome change in behaviour, with most people using reusable shopping bags. Try to keep some in your car for those unexpected trips to the shop, we also roll a tote bag up in our handbag/rucksack, so we always have a bag on hand.

Day 13 – Alternatives to plastic straws

Our fantastic Youth Ambassador is back to show you all the range of alternatives that are available instead of using plastic straws. Again, businesses seem to be moving in the right direction with the introduction of paper straws, but if you use plastic straws, there are lots of other options. Billie showed us paper, bamboo, reusable silicone and metal straws and a helpful follower commented that you can even get hay straws!

Day 14 – Reuse your plastic takeaway tubs

Most people love a takeaway every now and then, but this sometimes means plastic tubs. Why not try to reuse them around the house, maybe to store leftovers or small toys?

Day 15 – Eco-friendly kitchen scrubbies

Every kitchen needs a good-quality scrubber! If you haven’t already, why not swap to one made of natural materials? You can get them made from materials like coconut, or plant fibres, and they do as good a job but without the plastic! Our friends at Wey To Go on Hayling Island helped us with the video for Day 15.

Day 16 – Choose a can over a plastic bottle

We know how easy it can be to leave your reusable bottle at home, but when you need a drink, it’s better to go for an aluminium can over something in a plastic bottle. Aluminium can be recycled an infinite number of times compared to the couple of times that a plastic bottle can be recycled.

Day 17 – Eco-friendly kitchen sprays

Gaining popularity in recent years is eco-friendly refills for things like kitchen and bathroom sprays. When you run out of kitchen spray, you can always refill your bottle with a home-made mixture or ocean saver spray refills (https://www.ocean-saver.com/)

Day 18 – Borrow Bags

Want to have a go at making some Borrow Bags? These bags are a fabulous way of reducing plastic in your local area. Made by volunteers, using old material, the bags are given to local shops and customers can borrow them and bring them back when they can.

If you’d like to find out more about Borrow Bags and how you can get involved, check out our website here https://finalstrawfoundation.org/get-involved/borrow-bags/

Day 19 – Reef-friendly sun cream

Many people don’t know the harmful impact sun cream can have on coral reefs! There are a number of brands that offer sun creams that are much better for the environment, why not visit this website and learn more about this subject and what changes you can make? https://savethereef.org/about-reef-save-sunscreen.html

Day 20 – Make your own ice lollies

Have you ever made your own ice lollies? I’m willing to bet most of us have at some point! It’s a great way to save money, create your own flavours and just generally a quick and easy solution! You can even make smoothie lollies or FroYo (frozen yoghurt!)

Day 21 – Plastic-free deodorant

Something that’s gaining in its popularity is plastic-free deodorant. Plastic roll-ons are rarely recycled properly due to the mix of plastic in their composition. However, there is an alternative in the form of eco-friendly deodorants, you could try one the next time you run out!

Day 22 – Make use of online selling sites

An easy way to be a bit eco-friendlier is to pass on useful but unwanted items to friends and family. Alternatively, you can make use of local online selling/freecycle pages to give your items a new lease of life!

Day 23 – Reuse your old jars

What do you do with empty jars? You can of course recycle glass at your local glass bank, but you can also store your teeny tiny treasures in them too! Maybe see if any of your friends or family make their own jam and would like any jars!

Day 24 – Hire your partyware

Our friends Caroline and Anna from Eco-Makes South made a video for us for Day 24, explaining their partyware hire service. Rather than buy lots of plastic-coated plates and cups, you can hire them, saving all that waste from landfill!

Day 25 – Reusable water bombs

Super dudes Archie and Harris sent us this video, which taught us how to make reusable water bombs from kitchen sponges. In the summer, we find hundreds of fragments from water bombs all over parks and beaches. We love a good water fight, so these reusable water bombs are the perfect compromise!

Day 26 – Pick your own fruit

Every summer we take our kids to a Pick Your Own fruit farm. They have such a blast picking their own fruit (obviously testing some along the way!) and when we get home, we make crumbles, pies, and jam! Why not plan a visit to your local PYO farm when the season is right?

Day 27 – Plastic-free teabags

Cup of tea you say? Yes, please! We love tea and drink a lot of it! But did you know that lots of teabags contain plastic? Try to make the change to plastic-free or plant-based teabags today,

Day 28 – Bamboo toothbrushes

Amazing Amber and Fraser helped us learn more about bamboo toothbrushes! Next time you need to replace your toothbrush, give a bamboo one a go!

Day 29 – Hire a bodyboard

We were shocked, but sadly not surprised, by an article we read recently about the impact of broken and abandoned bodyboards were having on our beaches (you can read it here). Cheap bodyboards are very popular, but inevitably they break quickly, rendering them useless. If you’d like to try bodyboarding, try hiring one or invest in a good quality board that will last for years to come!

Day 30 – Shop Local

We are big supporters of ‘Shop Local’, trying to use our local greengrocers, farm shops, butchers, and fish mongers whenever we can. Today, why not pop into your local shops and pick up something for dinner?

Day 31 – Easy plastic-free swaps

Our friend Laura from Refill and Replenish, made us this fantastic video exploring all the easy swaps you could make! From toothbrushes to sun cream, deodorant to shampoo, there are alternatives for pretty much everything!

We hope you enjoyed our Plastic-Free July campaign this year, and hopefully, it has inspired you to make some swaps! As always, if you’d like to get involved in helping us, you can get in touch here.

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