Goodness knows, it is incredibly hard to live sustainably while raising young children. Especially in a world where the systems of overconsumption and toxic manufacturing feel so incredibly hard to escape. Plastic Free July is a fantastic time to join a worldwide community in making some small changes that can be a big win for our tiny Earth.
The good news is that, despite the name, it isn’t about going 100% plastic free for a month. You can join the challenge in any way that fits your current reality.
Even small changes make big impacts.
As parents and caregivers, the changes we make do double time. This is because the changes we make not only impact our planet, but they also deeply impact our children. When children see us caring for the earth through our everyday choices and actions, they learn sustainable behaviors and values that they will carry with them for their whole lives.
Make it Doable
Below are some options of ways to meet the Plastic Free July challenge. See what realistically could work this month for you and your family. Pick one or two actions from this list. If you aren’t sure what is doable, start small. You can always add more actions if you are able to.
What can you do? (Pick one or two)
- When eating out, tell your server to hold the straws before the drinks get to the table. Tell the server to skip the plastic kid cups as well. If your kiddos can manage a glass - perfect. If not, bring in those reusable water bottles from the car!
- Take a water bottle with you everywhere!
- Going out to eat? Bring along a container for leftovers or use a service like Green to Go.
- Wash clothes less frequently. Yes, just washing your clothes less can help keep microplastics out of our waterways.
- You can also reduce microplastics going from laundry to sea by using a Cora Ball or Guppy Bag. Both are really cool inventions that help catch the microplastics before they go down the drain.
- Of course, you can try to buy fewer clothes with synthetic fabrics.
- This month take a look at packaging. See if you can buy fewer items packaged in plastic.
- Refill cleaners and body care products and buy food in bulk when you can. Here is a fantastic guide to where you can buy in bulk or refill anywhere in the country.
- Take reusable bags not only to carry your groceries home in, but also to bag your produce in. Here are some great ones. They are also great for all that bulk shopping.
- Got a plastic item you really want your kids to have? Can you buy it second hand? Maybe a friend has one that their child has grown out of?
- If you have to buy a new plastic thing for your kiddos can you pass it on when you are done so that it can live a long life before it goes into the landfill?
- Join a local stream or beach clean up.
- Or, be less official about it - just make an effort to pick up all trash that you see in parks or on hikes this month. Take what you need when you are out and about to make this happen. You could even make it a play date activity and involve other families.
- Often the first step is education. Earthday.org’s Plastic Pollution Primer and Action Tool Kit is filled with links to documentaries, articles, short videos and podcasts that can help us understand plastic’s role in the environmental crisis and what we can do to help.
- Plastic Free July also offers some great information and a quiz to help us see what we can change. Small steps, big difference | Plastic Free July 2023 They also have some very inspiring and uplifting stories of companies, schools, and individuals worldwide who have signed on to the challenge.
Whatever you do - make sure you celebrate your willingness to try something new! Change, in the midst of raising small children can be hard. We are here to help. Be on the lookout for more tips here from us in July about ways we as parents and caretakers of young people can lean into this work of decreasing our plastic footprint - guilt free.