Challenge Yourself to a Plastic-Free July 

Last Update: January 12, 2024

This month isn’t just July — it’s Plastic-Free July, a time to challenge yourself to cut back on (or eliminate!) your plastic use. The Plastic Free Foundation started this global initiative to invite people to “be part of the solution to plastic pollution” by giving up single-use plastics for the month. 

Want to challenge yourself to Plastic-Free July? We put together a week-by-week game plan for cutting down on plastic waste, so by the end of the month, you’ll be ready to start fresh without all the single-use plastics. 

Week 1: Cut down on plastic in your groceries

Shop plastic-free brands. Think about your typical grocery order. If you’re like most people, it’s likely filled with plastic-wrapped snacks, single-use plastic bottles, and even fresh produce stored in often unnecessary plastic bags. The solution? Shop plastic-free brands whenever possible (we make it easy with our plastic-free shopping filter). 

Bring your own bags. If you’re shopping at a farmers market or your local grocery store, bring your own reusable tote bags and produce bags. 

Buy fresh, loose produce. Most produce doesn’t require a bag at all (think bananas, potatoes, and even hearty greens), so consider cutting it out altogether.  

Ask for no plastic whenever possible. If you’re shopping in person, you can always request that no plastic be used in your order. 

Buy in bulk. One of the best ways to cut down on plastic packaging is to buy in bulk, as this uses only one package and lasts for a much longer time. 

Week 2: Nix the plastic from your bathroom 

Switch to bar soap (and even bar shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and more). Some of the most plastic-heavy products in your bathroom are your soaps, shampoos, and personal care products. Luckily, many of these products now come in bar form. Try these to start: 

Look for paper, glass, or aluminum packaging. If you can’t skip the packaging altogether, opt for products packaged in more environmentally friendly materials. This plastic-free deodorant is made of biodegradable paper packaging, and these bamboo cotton swabs are better for the planet than the traditional plastic versions. 

Invest in a reusable razor. Think of how many times you’ve thrown away a razor in your life. Instead of pitching all that plastic every time it gets dull, opt for a sustainable reusable razor instead. 

Buy reusable makeup remover wipes, tissues, and other paper products. Even those disposable personal care products that seem impossible to replace can, actually, be swapped — and should, because many contain plastics and microplastics. Brands like LastObject create sustainable alternatives that can be used again and again (their reusable cotton rounds eliminate 1,750 single-use cotton rounds!)

Opt for refillable makeup and skincare products. For things like makeup and skincare, ditch the plastic containers and opt for brands that offer refillable options.

Week 3: Limit plastic when eating out 

Create a reusable takeout kit. Instead of getting a set of plastic utensils and dishes each time you order takeout, create your own kit to keep in your car or bag. Here’s what you’ll need: 

Ask for “no plastic” in your order. To *really* make sure that you don’t have plastic in your order, just ask! Because most restaurants will toss in plastic cutlery automatically, just request that they skip the plastic when you place your order. 

Bring your reusable coffee mug to the cafe. Instead of getting a new to-go cup each time you order a latte, ask the barista to use your travel mug.

Skip the single-use water bottles. Invest in a reusable water bottle that you can refill throughout the day. 

Dine in when you can. Got time? Order your food “for here” instead of to take away to avoid the takeout containers altogether. 

Week 4: Cut down on plastic in the kitchen

Opt for beeswax food wrap instead of plastic wrap. Beeswax food wraps are reusable and easy to clean (and a whole lot prettier than plastic wrap). 

Switch to plastic-free food storage containers. Glass and aluminum are durable, waste-free alternatives to plastic. 

Use silicone food storage bags. Stasher makes silicone storage bags in a variety of sizes that can be used to store just about anything — from leftovers to fresh, cut fruits to the other half of an avocado. 

Don’t use plastic servingware when hosting. Instead of plastic plates and forks, opt for compostable alternatives

Use natural fiber cleaning tools. What happens when you’re done with a sponge or scrubber? You toss it out, adding a bit more plastic to landfills. Instead, use bamboo or other natural fiber cleaning brushes that break down easily, like these: 

Switch to refillable cleaning products. Instead of throwing out plastic bottles every time you empty a cleaning product, switch to reusable glass bottles and cleaning concentrates, like these: 

Week 5: Learn to properly recycle (or reuse) plastic

Understand the rules in your area. Unfortunately, you can’t always eliminate your plastic use — the next best thing is to ensure that the plastics you are using are being effectively recycled by adhering to the rules in your area. 

Learn to read the codes on your plastics. Here’s a cheat sheet.

When you can’t recycle, reuse. Can’t recycle it? Reuse it: Save plastic bags for food storage, use takeout containers for leftovers, keep plastic bottles to start seedlings for your garden — get creative with your plastics to keep them out of the landfill. 

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Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts is Thrive Market's Senior Editorial Writer. She is based in Los Angeles via Pittsburgh, PA.

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