It’s Plastic Free July and we’re joining the convo on reducing plastic usage this month and every month. We know plastic is harmful but it’s still literally everywhere and in most of the products we use on a daily basis. We can try really hard to live without plastic but sometimes it’s almost impossible to avoid. I’ve been there and while it can feel like information overload, the best way to start using less plastic is via baby steps. Start with one area of your life and slowly eliminate all major plastic or waste contributors before moving onto a different part.
If you’re unsure about why plastic is a massive problem, let me break it down for you. Plastics are a wide range of synthetic (or semi-synthetic) materials that use polymers as the main ingredient. You can find plastic in a variety of household items such as food packaging but also in some surprising items like chewing gum and clothing! Man made fibers like polyester and acrylic do not biodegrade and take 200 plus years to break down. So, if you're wearing polyester, you are pretty much wearing a plastic bag.
The thing about plastic is that it never goes away, and yet 33% of plastics are single-use, which means we use ‘em once and then toss ‘em. Plastic also cannot biodegradable so all it really does is break into smaller pieces over time until we end up with microplastics. :(
While plastic in general is bad, I think it’s safe to say that single-use plastics are just a tad bit worse. We’re talking plastic straws, water bottles, grocery bags, that sort of thing. Completely avoidable, if ya ask me. On average, Canadians throw away about 3.3 million tonnes of plastic every day. Of that amount, only 9% (305k tonnes) has been recycled. Pretty awful, right?
Not only does plastic harm the environment, it can also release toxic chemicals that could affect human health as well as our food chain. Did you know that in Canada, single-use plastics make up most of the plastic litter that is found in freshwater environments? You’ll be just as shocked as I when you read our 4th tip and find out how many pounds of plastic are found in the Great Lakes every year.
We've rounded up our best tips to help you reduce plastic waste and start living a more sustainable lifestyle today.
1. Keep reusable bags around for groceries and everyday shopping.
You can carry any bag that works for you. Canvas totes work great but some people also prefer carrying a backpack for that extra back support. If you are someone who often forgets their reusable bags at home, search for compact or easily foldable bags that you can keep in your bag or car at all times.
2. Buy clothes made from natural fabric such as organic cotton.
Purchasing clothes made from natural fabrics, such as organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, and linen, are a fabulous way to reduce your plastic usage. These materials are biodegradable whereas clothes made from synthetic fabrics such as polyester, acrylic, rayon and nylon do not biodegrade and instead, break down into microplastics that exist for a very long time. The Good Tee is proud to manufacture our clothing using certified Fair Trade organic cotton which decomposes in as little as 5 months. Take it a step further and ensure the brand’s packaging is also sustainable, plastic-free and biodegradable, like ours!
3. Support plastic-free brands that use eco-friendly or compostable materials.
There are plenty of brand directories out there made by amazing curators like and they all create for the similar purpose of spreading good information about eco-friendly and sustainable products. Browse brand directories as a way to find brands that support plastic-free, eco-friendly production. A couple great spots to start are by browsing The Eco-Hub’s plastic-free/waste-free directory and Sustainably Kind Living’s zero waste favourites directory. You’ll never know what eco-friendly products you’ll find and end up loving!
4. Replace your plastic toothbrush with a bamboo one.
Making the switch from a plastic toothbrush to a bamboo one is a great way to start using less plastic. Bamboo toothbrushes are biodegradable (just like our best-selling unisex tee!) while plastic toothbrushes just end up in the landfill. Did you know in the U.S. alone, over 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown out every year? That’s equivalent to 50 million pounds of toothbrushes alone in the landfill annually!
5. Invest in a stainless steel water bottle.
About 1 million plastic water bottles are bought around the world every minute. If you cannot fathom the enormity of that number, check out this visual. Stainless steel water bottles are so much better for the environment. You’re reducing your plastic consumption and in return you have a durable bottle that keeps your drink hot or cold (depending on your preference, of course!). Similar to plastic toothbrushes, there are a ton of single-use plastic water bottles that end up in the landfill. In fact, Canadians consume 5.3 million water bottles per day and about 22 million pounds of plastic make their way into the Great Lakes every year. To do your part in using less plastic, we highly recommend a stainless steel water bottle. Searching through the B Corp directory is a great way to find a brand that is committed to meeting the highest standards of social and environmental impact. Check out S’well or Klean Kanteen, which are both certified B Corp brands, just like us!
6. Switch single-use plastic straws and cutlery for bamboo or stainless steel versions.
Another great way to cut down on plastic is having bamboo or stainless steel cutlery on hand, especially for take-out! There are plenty of places to find travel-sized cutlery kits that are environmentally-friendly or waste-free. We love these sets from Canadian brands, Ola Bamboo and AllBambu!
So there ya have it! Our six ways to start using less plastic. Everyone begins their plastic-free journey in all different kinds of ways, we’d love to know the tips and tricks that got you to start using less!
Leave a comment below and join our #PlasticFreeJuly discussion. :)