Plastic Free July: How to Start Reducing Your Plastic Waste

Updated: Jun. 21, 2023

If you're looking to live a more sustainable life but don't know where to start, consider taking up the Plastic Free July challenge!

Sustainability is a word we hear quite a bit in the news, and it’s becoming more and more important to incorporate it into our everyday lives.

While it can feel daunting at first to make a large, permanent change, try challenging yourself to focus on one thing for a shorter period of time. Then you can turn an initiative into a habit. One great challenge is Plastic Free July.

What is Plastic Free July?

It’s an initiative from the Plastic Free Foundation that asks people to eliminate single-use plastics from their lives for a month. The foundation encourages people to write in and share how they met the challenge: at home, at work, in their community or elsewhere.

How to Cut Down Plastic Use

Woman holding armful of used plastic containers in kitchenMint Images/Getty Images

If you’re looking to take up the challenge, here are several ways you can easily reduce your plastic use. Not all options are doable for everyone. But no matter your situation, you’re likely to find several that will work for you. Most of these suggestions will even save you money in the long run:

Reusable bags

Bring these with you whenever you’re buying groceries or hitting the hardware store. To make it easy to remember, keep them in your car or right next to the door. If you do end up with plastic bags, do your best to find ways to reuse them — like taking them to the store next time.

Reusable water bottles

Whether you’re heading out on a road trip or just going to work, bring a reusable water bottle with you. You’ll stay hydrated (especially in the summer heat!) without dealing with a bunch of plastic. Plus, you’ll save money by not buying bottled water.

Reusable cleaning rags

Paper towels are incredibly convenient, but you can save money and reduce your plastic waste by cleaning with microfiber cloths or old rags instead. The fewer rolls of paper towels you use, the less plastic packaging you’ll have to dispose of.

Make your own cleaning solutions

When tidying up around the house, make your own cleaning solutions. This way you can reuse those plastic spray bottles instead of repeatedly buying new packages.

Be sure to carefully label your solutions, and include the ingredient lists on the bottles. You don’t want to accidentally mix chemicals that should be kept separate.


Plastic straws get a bad rap. They’re an important option for people with disabilities who can’t easily drink out of a glass. But many of us can get by without them and their metal, paper and silicone alternatives.

If you need plastic straws, by all means, keep using them. If you don’t, opt for more sustainable alternatives, or go without.

Pre-cut produce

Pre-cut produce is incredibly convenient. It saves you prep time in the kitchen and leaves fewer dishes to wash. And for people with disabilities that impact their hands, it’s often a necessity.

If that describes your situation, you can absolutely skip this suggestion. However, if you can safely chop your fruits and veggies, consider buying them whole for Plastic Free July.


If you do end up using plastic at some point during Plastic Free July, do your best to recycle it. Not all kinds of plastic are recyclable, so be sure to double-check before chucking it in the recycling bin.