Take the Plastic-Free July Challenge: Follow the 5 R’s of Sustainability

It’s always a good time to care about the environment, but if you’re looking to get more eco-friendly, there’s never a better time than right now! Plastic Free July was started in 2011 by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz (the founder of the Plastic Free Foundation) in Western Australia, but has since spread to become a global initiative of 250 million people over 177 countries. The campaign’s aim is to reduce the use of single-use plastics.

You don’t need to go out and buy a bunch of new things to be eco-conscious. Just use what you have on hand! There are still tons of ways to decrease your environmental footprint. And don’t be scared off by “plastic free” – the goal is to reduce – even if you can’t eliminate some things completely. Once you change your mindset, you’ll be a lot more aware as a consumer, which should lead to changes organically.


If you’re getting takeout, refuse unnecessary plastic serve ware. If you go to your local coffee shop for an iced coffee or tea, bring your own reusable straw and skip the plastic one. Make your coffee or tea at home in your own mug. Bring a to-go mug to your office or workplace. Refuse a plastic bag when you pick up items at a drugstore. Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery. If you’re not able to bring them into the store due to Covid, put your items in your cart and pack them into bags in your car. Buy net bags to put fruits and veggies in so you don’t have to use plastic bags.


Don’t buy more than you need. If you’re printing a document, set to double-sided to reduce paper. Spring for an online news subscription instead of receiving a physical newspaper. Sautee veggies that are going bad. Make banana bread from overripe bananas. Go paperless for your bills.


The goal is to eventually move toward reusable, sustainable household items. Focus on one area at a time. If you start in the kitchen, replace your dishwashing tablets, dish soap and laundry powder with plant-derived cleaners. Use wax-wrap instead of plastic wrap. Replace your plastic dish brush with a wood or bamboo dish brush. Invest in eco sponges that don’t contain microplastics. Use what you have first so you don’t waste. The process of switching over may take a long time, but eventually will drastically reduce your waste.

Repurpose (Upcycle)

Repurposing or upcycling is about making your old items new. Alter garments you buy secondhand – with a needle and thread, embroidery or paint. Make old sauce jars into storage containers. Grow plants out of your old egg-shells. Sand and re-paint or varnish old furniture. Repurposing can be really fun and rewarding. Hunt Pinterest pins for inspiration!


Recycling is great, but it should always be your last resort. You should always try to reuse, repurpose or refuse items first. But don’t get too hard on yourself. Every little bit counts. Depending on your local statues, you should separate your plastic, paper and garbage into appropriate cans. If your workplace or local cafe don’t recycle – take responsibility for your trash! Keep it on your person until you can get home and properly dispose of it.

Here’s a calendar for Plastic-Free July to keep you inspired. You can pick and choose what works for you or follow along each day.

Will you take part in the Plastic Free July Challenge? Check out their website for resources, posters, ideas and local events.

Until next time,

4 thoughts on “Take the Plastic-Free July Challenge: Follow the 5 R’s of Sustainability

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