Good news: Plastic Free July isn’t about being perfect, it’s about trying your best to make small changes that will benefit all of us! Whether you’ve decided to go plastic free for the rest of the month, or just for tomorrow, take the Plastic Free July pledge and join millions of people trying their best too.
Between social media and targeted ads it can feel like going plastic free requires purchasing a bunch of fancy glass jars and reusable silicone kitchen gear. Good news again: this is definitely not the case! This blog will spell out how to go plastic free on a budget.
Many companies are making the switch to sustainable packaging, including using glass or compostable material. While this is important and necessary, these items can come at a higher price. Avoid packaging altogether and shop the Bulk Department! Because these items come free from packaging (and for a few other reasons), bulk food is cheaper than packaged food. You can find our current Bulk Department offerings here.
Use Glass Jars (but not new ones!)
You definitely do not need to go spend $100 on brand new mason jars. If you look in your fridge, you probably have glass jars of all shapes and sizes (I’m looking at you, jar full of olives from 5 months ago). These just need a quick rinse before they’re ready to use. Soak in hot water with soap and distilled vinegar for 5-20 minutes to get any labels and residual adhesive off. And then they’re ready to use! Glass jars are great for stocking up on bulk items, taking leftovers to work, taking leftovers home from restaurants, and using at cafes.
You can also buy glass jars secondhand, sometimes for cents! Head to your favorite thrift store to see what’s in stock and feel free to experiment with sizes and shapes. A huge mason jar for $.50 is totally worth it if you buy 4 pounds of lentils at a time.
Use Cutlery You Already Have
Those travel cutlery kits are cute, but not necessary if you have forks, spoons, and knives at home already! Wrapping them in a cloth napkin or kitchen towel from home means you have something to store them in after you’ve used them. You can even make your own kitchen towels, napkins, and rags from material you already have.
Put Your Plastic To Use
A plastic zip-top bag can be used multiple times before heading to the landfill. If you already have single-use plastic bags at home, it’s silly to toss them before using. Zip-top bags can be rinsed, washed, and dried by hand many times before they no longer function (e.g. they’ve torn). Use these to shop the bulk department or as food storage at home before buying something new.
DIY Cleaning Products
Along with the assumption that “going zero waste” is expensive, many folks think it’s more time consuming too. While this is somewhat true (e.g. you need to spend more time sorting your waste properly), you’re probably here because you care about the health of our community and planet and understand that we all need to create new habits to be more sustainable. DIYing can take more time, but in this case, you’ll also save some money! Read our Natural Home Cleaning blog with 15+ DIY cleaning recipes.
Buy Second Hand, Then New
A lot of this blog focuses on using what you already have, which is a good mindset to have when considering how you can reduce your waste. Always use what you have first. Whether it’s cheap, fast fashion, a case of plastic water bottles in the garage, or glass tomato sauce jars, use these items before buying something new. If you are looking to buy something, look for it second hand at the thrift store or online. When it is time to buy something new, invest in quality items that will last a long time and put people and planet before profit.