Making the leap to a zero-waste lifestyle might sound daunting, but taking small steps to reduce your environmental impact can make a big difference. If you’re looking for a little extra motivation to finally help you kick your habit, Plastic-Free July is officially in full force, challenging millions of people who have taken the pledge to avoid single-use plastics throughout the rest of the month.
The challenge encourages people to take concrete action to reduce their plastic consumption, whether that means eschewing single-use plastic packaging, avoiding the “top four” (aka plastic bags, bottles, straws, and coffee cups), or going completely plastic-free. The movement began in 2011, inspiring people to change their habits not just for a single month of the year but for good: Participants reduce their household waste by almost 5 percent for the full year, and contribute to saving nearly 1 million tons of plastic waste.
It’s not too late to take the pledge—here are a few tips that will help you get started.
Use Jars You Already Have
Yes, that coffee cup or water bottle might look cool, but you don’t need to buy anything new to be sustainable. Sustainable Brooklyn cofounder Dominique Drakeford recommends putting rubber bands around old pasta sauce or mason jars to make them easier to hold onto (especially if your drink is hot), a tip she picked up from @sustainablesabs.
Reevaluate Your Personal-Care Products
If you’re replacing your toothbrush, buy one that is compostable (like a bamboo option)—just be sure to cut off its bristles, which might still be made from plastic, before composting. You can even opt for environmentally friendly floss (Celsious founders Corinna and Theresa Williams swear by mulberry silk floss, which is biodegradable).
Educate Yourself on Recycling Policies
Ultimately, it might not be possible to fully remove single-use plastic from your life (like if you wear contacts, for instance). While Plastic-Free July is all about reducing consumption to begin with, it’s also productive to reconsider how you dispose of plastic that you can’t quite avoid. There are lots of surprising things that you can recycle—like grocery bags and old electronics.
Introducing Domino’s new podcast, Design Time, where we explore spaces with meaning. Each week, join editor-in-chief Jessica Romm Perez along with talented creatives and designers from our community to explore how to create a home that tells your story. Listen now and subscribe for new episodes every Thursday.