Not only does plastic pollution affect our oceans and wildlife but microplastics have also been reportedly found in food for human consumption.

Photo by Carina Koenig

While recycling efforts can have an impact, less than 10% of plastic produced is actually recycled. To travel upstream is to decrease the plastics we purchase, bring them into our homes, discard them, and dump them into the natural environment and world.  

Plastic-free July is a global movement to help people worldwide become part of the solution to reducing plastic pollution and waste.

Not only does plastic pollution affect our oceans and wildlife (estimated by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish ) but microplastics have also been reportedly found in food for human consumption (the average person could be eating up to 5 grams of plastic per week). 

While it can be easy to feel hopeless regarding plastic use, pollution and consumption, we want to focus on the impact millions of individuals can have on the future and the influence we all have in our communities, schools, and places of business.  

According to, Americans purchase 50 billion bottles per year, which averages to 13 per person a month. If one person used a reusable water bottle, you could save an average of 156 bottles annually. And for families of four or more, those numbers add up to 52 bottles monthly, or 676 annually.  

So, how can you begin to reduce your plastic consumption?

Join the Plastic-Free July Challenge! It is a vital initiative of the Plastic-free foundation and began in 2011. You can learn more about them and their 2020 impact report here. 

Below are five tips for easy ways to get started reducing your plastic use this July and beyond! 

01 | Takeaway coffee cups
Who doesn’t love driving thru for a coffee? However, most single-use coffee cups are never recycled, even the compostable ones, so try dining in at your favorite local coffee spot or bring along your own reusable alternative. There are many options of glass, ceramic, steel, etc. Keep it on your work desk, by your keys or purse, any area you often use that you can remember.  

02 | B-Y-O-B (bring your own bag)
Keep a stash of reusable bags by your front door or in your car to use when you go grocery shopping, to the farmers market, library, or bookstore! Plastic bags are harmful to wildlife and break down into microplastics, and remain in the environment indefinitely.  

03 | Avoid plastic-wrapped fruits and vegetables
Convenience items like pre-packaged fruits and vegetables can easily be avoided by bringing your own produce bags, buying them loose, or shopping at your local farmers’ markets.  

04 | Use Soap Bars
Swap out shower gel for bars of swap to reduce single-use plastics in the bathroom. Bar soaps have different blends for face washing, shaving, shampoo, and body wash. Purchase bar soap without packaging at health food stores. Many brands package their bar soap in cardboard good for composting.  

05 | Buy less
Ultimately, buying less and using less will result in less waste and items being thrown away. Before making a purchase, ask yourself- do I need this? Is there a better alternative? Try shopping second-hand, thrifting, or even hosting a “swap” event (books, clothes, etc.) to reduce the number of new items you bring into your home!  

Dig deeper! If you are looking for even more ways to reduce your waste or want to take on a bigger challenge, research “zero waste” as some people aim to live lives that produce zero waste.  

Visit for even more ideas and ways to get involved.  

Learn about Bea Johnson and her family, who inspired a movement when they reduced trash; they produced in a year to one jar!   

We would love to see if you try any of these tips to reduce your plastic use. Tag us @cmagazine!

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