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Plastic Free July Challenge

Updated: Jul 1

Plastic Free July started as a movement in 2011 in Western Australia.

The aim is to raise awareness about the environmental issues caused by single-use plastics and to encourage people to reduce their plastic consumption.

Below are 5 Sustainable Activities, 10 Sustainable Habits and Lots of Learning about Zero Waste and Composting!

1. Sustainable Activity - Calculate your Waste Footprint 

Curious to know how your everyday consumption - from buying groceries to online shopping - contributes to your waste footprint? Estimate your usage with the new Waste Footprint Calculator. This quiz, gathers information about your household and lifestyle and gives you information about your personal waste - all in under 5 minutes!

Mark this action complete once you've learned about your waste footprint  and share your footprint in the comments! 

2. Sustainable Activity - Volunteer at our Beach Cleanup July 7

The Dana Point Harbor is the perfect place to join a cleanup to give back to the environment and our community! 


3. Sustainable Activity - Watch The Story of Stuff on YouTube

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. It exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world.

4. Sustainable Activity - Participate in Book or Clothing Exchange 

Share a way you reduce your footprint (use 31 Ways as a guide) 


5. Sustainable Activity: Take the Compost Quiz 

Discover Your Composting Knowledge!


Sustainable Learning – What is Zero Waste?

Zero Waste extends much further than simply dealing with “end-of-life” waste. In fact, it examines the entire lifecycle of a product or material, highlighting inefficiencies and unsustainable production and consumption practices. Zero waste refers not only to keeping waste out of landfill, but also pushing our economy to be less wasteful in production and consumption.  Learn more about what it means to be Zero Waste here.

1. Sustainable Habit – Share a Way You Reduce Your Footprint

What are you doing to reduce your waste footprint! Thrifting? Choosing used? Unsubscribing from catalogs? Recycling hard-to-recycle materials? 

Share your story and inspire us!


2. Sustainable Habit - Choose Used

When you’re in the market for something new-to-you, set aside a little shopping time to browse local thrift stores, yard sales, and antique shops or log on and surf the bevy of online sites selling used goods. Whatever you’re looking for will surely be available—in some way, shape, or form—on eBay or Craigslist. They can be a little hit or miss, but well worth a look.

3. Sustainable Habit -  Use a Reusable Water Bottle

Instead of using plastic water bottles, fill up a reusable bottle and use it throughout your work day!


4. Sustainable Habit - Pack & Plan -  Bring Your Lunch To Work or School in a Reusable Container

Grocery shop and pack your lunch. If you eat breakfast or even dinner at your desk, try packing them, too. There are many waste-free reusable containers and wraps available in stores and online. Shop around. And don’t forget a cloth napkin and a reusable water bottle.

Ask your office manager to stock the kitchen with real plates, reusable utensils, and glasses.


BONUS - When eating takeout, BYO reusable containers for the counter staff to use instead of their disposables.

5. Sustainable Habit  - BYO Bags On a Shopping Trip

The trick to reusable bags is remembering to bring them with you! Set yourself up for success by stashing them in car trunks, purses, and jacket pockets.

Canvas versions are best for heavy hauls. For regular errands and groceries, bags made from recycled bottles stand up to most loads. But don't forget to bring your reusable bags on trips to the mall and department stores too. Some retailers even offer discounts off your purchase when you BYO.

While there are tons of cute reusable bags on the market, don’t overdo it. Any bag takes energy and resources to make.


6. Sustainable Habit - Use Rechargeable Batteries

There are three basic types

1. Nickel cadmium batteries (a.k.a. NiCads) have a long life but low voltage. They can also suffer “memory effect;” if they’re repeatedly recharged before they’ve been drained, they’ll stop holding a full charge. They also contain cadmium, a toxic heavy metal, and should be recycled when past their prime.


2. Nickel metal hydride batteries, or NiMHs, are heavy metal-free and offer more power but take longer to recharge.


3. Lithium-ion batteries hold the greatest amount of energy and last longer between charges.

Different devices require different types of batteries. Let operating manuals and trial and error be your guides. Universal chargers simplify life by charging any type. 

No matter which you need, you’ll pay more for rechargeables up front but less over their lifetime because they can be reused up to 1,000 times. That kind of savings should energize your budget.

7. Sustainable Habit - Use a Reusable Towel or Dish Cloth Instead of Paper Towel

Giving up paper towels is easier than you might think. Going cold turkey makes the process easier; you’ll have nothing else to reach for.

Stock up on towels, dish cloths, and rags and keep them handy—in a kitchen drawer or a basket under the sink. Use until they need laundering, then wash with your next load.

There plenty of products on the market designed specifically as replacements for paper towels. In case you don’t have rags, invest in something new and reusable.

Sponges, another good alternative, can be sanitized in the microwave, boiled, or run through the dishwasher to kill bacteria before reuse.

8. Sustainable Habit - Ditch The Junk Mail

If you have the time, call up the major sources of your junk mail directly and ask them to take you off their lists. Or visit and mass unsubscribe. There are separate websites to remove consumers from junk catalog lists such as Catalog Choice.

If you’re pressed for time, there are paid services that will undertake this effort on your behalf. Below you'll find links to these resources. Once you've taken control of your mail - mark the action complete!

·       PaperKarma

9. Sustainable Habit - Use an Eco-Friendly Writing Utensil

There is no such thing as a zero waste pen, but there are eco-friendly options. These days there are pens on the market made from recycled paper, biodegradable corn starch, recycled newspapers, recycled water bottles, bamboo and more.  There's also refillable pens where you switch out the ink, but keep the same pen body. 

Whatever writing utensil you choose, choose one that is eco-friendly and opt out of taking free-pen/pencil giveaways. 


10. Sustainable Habit - Recycle Printer Cartridges

Figure out the easiest place to recycle your printer cartridges. Start with where you bought them. Staples and other major office supply retailers take them back and even give you rewards for them. Smaller, local retailers may also take cartridges back, even if you didn’t purchase them there.

If you buy your cartridges online, they’ll likely come with postage-prepaid return recycling envelopes. Just follow the instructions.

Another option is a cartridge recycling/fundraising program, which are increasingly popular with schools and other civic organizations. See if there’s one near you.

Protect Our Earth - Never Toss an Electronic Device in Your Regular Trash

If you do just one thing, do this. Never toss devices into your regular trash. The potentially toxic materials inside, like lead and mercury, need to be processed by a special handler. And though your clunky old iPhone 5 may not have much resale potential, it still contains valuable materials that can be reused."


"An estimated $57 billion worth of gold, silver, platinum and other precious metals hidden in old devices was sent to landfills in 2019 alone."

Source: Real Simple, March 2021


Commit to never toss an electronic device in the trash again!

By: Vicki Patterson

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