Plastic-Free July 2023!

This Plastic Free July, join millions of people reducing their plastic waste! This is a global movement that has inspired 100+ million participants in 190 countries. Your small changes will collectively make a massive difference to our communities. You may choose to refuse single-use plastics in July (and beyond!).


Plastics have become deeply intertwined in our daily lives, but their environmental and human health impacts are severe and undeniable. From polluting our oceans and harming wildlife to leaching harmful chemicals and contributing to the climate crisis, the problems with plastics are far-reaching and demand real solutions. Almost all plastic is made from petroleum. Oil-based plastic has major global heating impacts.

Easy actions you can take – check out our Cleaner Contra Costa Challenge for more!


  • Skip the Packaging - 40% of all the plastic produced each year is made for just one purpose: Single-use packaging. All those plastic containers, shrink wrap, bubble wrap... add up to a big impact.Buy in bulk. The more you buy at a time, the less packaging it uses. Some items to consider buying in bulk include things that have a longer shelf life like shampoo, cereal, and peanut butter.  Buying in bulk also saves money!
    • Bring your own container. Many stores now allow you to bring your own reusable containers to fill up with staples like olive oil, flour, rice, and even shampoo. Many stores, particularly health food markets, offer at least some bulk purchasing options.
    • Choose items with less packaging. Before you buy something, notice how much plastic packaging it has. If two products are equally good, consider choosing the one with less plastic or less packaging in general.
  • Remember your Reusable Bags - Make sure you have your bags handy for your next shopping trip! After you use them, remember to put them back in your car, backpack, purse or briefcase (wherever you need them) so they are ready to go for next time.


  •  Ditch Plastics at Mealtime 12129756896?profile=RESIZE_710x
    • Use reusable utensils. When you order takeout, tell the cashier that you don’t need any plastic utensils.  If you are eating at home, use your own utensils, or if you are eating on the go, bring a set of reusable utensils with you!  There are many great lightweight, travel-ready options for reusable utensils.  They make great gifts!  Buy one for a friend and spread the trend of ditching plastic utensils.
    • Choose sustainable to-go containers. Notice what kind of packaging your favorite restaurants are using for your takeout - is it styrofoam or plastic containers, or compostable containers?  If possible, choose the restaurant with the sustainable, compostable container or consider dining in instead of taking it to go.  If it’s your favorite restaurant and you need to take it to go, talk with the manager and ask them to consider switching to better alternatives. 
    • Say no to plastic straws. Because of their shape and size, plastic straws are uniquely harmful to marine life.  And they’re a major source of plastic waste - 500 million plastic straws are used every day in the United States alone! 
    • Go circular. Some restaurants are starting to offer takeout food and drinks in truly reusable containers that you can bring back to the restaurant for them to refill.  This is an example of what’s known as a “Circular Economy.”  If any cafés or restaurants in your area are trying this out, support them! 
    • Bring food from home in reusable containers. It’s simple - when you’re packing up your lunch for school or the office, choose a reusable container instead of a sandwich bag.  Reusable plastic or glass containers will reduce your plastic waste and save you money over the long term since you’ll only have to buy a few. Many companies, like Contra Costa-based Ecolunchbox, make sturdy reusable containers for lunches and beyond.


    • 12129757064?profile=RESIZE_400xBring a Reusable Water Bottle – Did you know that 25 million tons of plastic waste end up in the ocean every year? Plastic bottles make up a huge amount of this ocean trash, so let’s kick the single-use plastic bottle habit and protect our planet (and the fish!) from pollution.
  • Choose a BPA-free bottle. Many cheap plastics (including single-use water bottles) contain the chemical BPA, which can cause fertility problems, heart disease and other health issues.
  • Consider a water filter for your home. Some people drink bottled water because they don’t like tap water. If this is an issue for you, consider investing in a water filter. You can get low cost filters that fit directly onto your faucets or a filtered pitcher, so you’ll always have a supply of clean, fresh water.



  • 12129757688?profile=RESIZE_400xBring Your Own Mug - Did you know that over 50 billion paper cups are tossed in the trash every year in the U.S.? That's a lot of trees!  These cups are not recyclable or compostable because they are lined with plastic.  The solution - a reusable mug!
    • Don’t forget it! Include it in the "keys-wallet-phone" check before leaving the house!
    • Once you’re at the cafe, all you have to do is tell the cashier you’d like to use your own reusable mug and give it to the barista to fill. Bonus - your drink will stay warm (or cold) for longer than a paper cup.


  • Plastic-Free Cleaning – One of the most popular ways people reduce plastic waste is by using cleaning products without plastic packaging.
    • Bulk food stores often offer refillable cleaning products, including window cleaner, dishwashing liquid, and laundry powder/liquid. Farmers markets, chain supermarkets and even delivery trucks increasingly offer refills.
    • Buy eco-friendly cleaning products in bulk and share them with friends, family members and neighbors.
    • When it’s time to replace cleaning brushes and cloths, consider switching from synthetic to natural fibers for cleaning dishes that can be composted at the end of their lifespan.12129757881?profile=RESIZE_584x
    • For in and around the home, consider reusing old socks or worn towels. Areas that require a bit of a scrub (such as the grout between tiles) will come up easily when homemade or bulk-bought cleaning products are scrubbed with an old toothbrush.
    • Storage can make a difference too. Cleaning and storing cloths and brushes in a dry place is more hygienic and makes them last longer.
    • For an even healthier home environment, vacuuming regularly and dusting with a damp mop will remove dust containing plastic particles and chemicals.
    • Make a simple all-purpose cleaner with equal parts of white vinegar and water (vinegar is a recommended product for mold removal), or make a water and bicarbonate soda paste for scrubbing. Adding a few drops of essential oil or a squeeze of citrus juice will make homemade cleaning options smell great too.
  • Shop Smart, Buy Less – Everything we buy uses resources - energy and raw materials like trees, minerals and water… and plastic! Here are some ways to lessen your demand on new plastic goods:12129759662?profile=RESIZE_710x
    • Use what you have. Households around the world are reducing plastic waste by simply using what they already have on hand. Look around the house (in the fridge, pantry, bathroom, waste/recycling bin, garage, etc.) to see what items can be reused, upcycled or repurposed in some way. Popular ideas:

      💡𝐆𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐬 𝐣𝐚𝐫𝐬 (e.g. good ol’ peanut butter jars)—for food storage (spices, leftovers), tas water bottles or coffee cups, organizing smaller items (buttons, paper clips), or holding items (toothbrushes, pencils).
      💡𝗪𝗼𝗿𝗻 𝘀𝗵𝗲𝗲𝘁𝘀/𝗰𝗹𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘀—to use as rags, make into shopping bags, produce bags, etc.
      💡𝗕𝗼𝘁𝘁𝗹𝗲𝘀/𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗿𝘀 (cleaning and personal care)—refill and reuse.
      💡𝗖𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘁𝗲𝗺𝘀—baking soda, vinegar, old toothbrushes, used sheet cut up into rags, etc.
      💡𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗯𝗼𝗮𝗿𝗱 𝗯𝗼𝘅𝗲𝘀—to use for moving, storage, play time for kids, carrying shopping items.
      💡𝗢𝗹𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝘂𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘀𝗶𝗹𝘀—to make a reusable kit, keep in a handbag or backpack, picnic basket, camping kit.

      Reducing plastic doesn’t have to be fancy. The most sustainable items are the ones you already own. Do what you can with what you have!

    • Buy used. When you buy used, you can save lots of money and end up with some unique finds! There are tons of places to find used items - neighborhood lists like Nextdoor, marketplaces like Ebay, yard sales, your local Facebook Buy Nothing Group, and consignment and thrift stores. Every time you buy used, you save all of the energy, resources and plastics that would have gone to making and packaging new stuff!
    • Slow down on “fast fashion.” The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, producing up to 10% of global carbon emissions each year. Two-thirds of our clothing contains a synthetic fiber (aka plastic!), making it a contributor of micro-plastics when we wash these fabrics, and rendering them extremely challenging for textile recycling at its end of life.
    • Do your research and buy sustainable. This is becoming easier thanks to helpful apps like Good On You and browser plug-ins like Done Good that can inform you about a brand’s sustainability while you shop.
    • Choose quality. Did you know that 90% of childrens’ toys are made of plastic that can’t be recycled? Toys made out of other materials will last longer and are more sustainable.  It’s so fun to buy toys for children, but they often play with items a few times before losing interest.  Look for toys that will stand the test of time and hold childrens’ interest for longer.

 Been there, done that? Check out our related articles about plastic and plastic pollution to take it to the next level!

And check out Plastic Free July’s 31 Days of Plastic Free Choices for more inspiration:


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