Living without plastic - can you rise to the challenge?

Plastic is everywhere these days but making it and throwing it away is harmful for the environment. Find out how you can reduce how much plastic you use!

Plastic Free July challenges people to stop using single use disposable plastic throughout July to help raise awareness about alternatives to single use plastic! Many of us already know about the problems with plastic, we see plastic litter on the street, we know only about 9% of plastic used is recycled and this plastic can go on to harm wildlife.


Plastics last for a very long time and when they start to break down they only break down into very little pieces which cause further pollution and problems. Creating plastics used a lot of fossil fuels which creates even more environmental problems and we are producing plastic faster than ever before.

Recently scientists have found that half of the plastic ever produced has been produced in the last 13 years! If we continue producing plastic at this rate our oceans will soon contain more plastic than fish!


This is where plastic free July comes in.

By choosing to refuse single use plastic we can all make a difference and help to protect the environment. Taking part in the challenge helps us to see just how much plastic we use for a moment and then throw away. The great thing about going plastic free is it doesn't matter if you've missed plastic free July, you can start any time!



The thought of going a month without buying plastic might be overwhelming - where will you start when plastic is everywhere.

As well as helping the environment a lot of these things will save you money too! 

 To completely eliminate single use plastic from your life takes a bit more effort but there are plenty of tips online and inspiring people who have written about their experiences. Bulk food shops allow you to take your own containers and fill them up with food and household products. Some people don't use plastic bin bags and instead line their bin with paper. Others make their own yoghurt so they don't need to use plastic tubs. The ways you can make a difference go on, and with all the variety it is easy to find a way that suits your lifestyle.

Don't feel like you have to do everything at once though, some things might not be possible for your living situation. Sometimes plastic can be really difficult to avoid, for example, strawberries that are not in a plastic punnet are rare but you could grow your own if you have the space or pick some at a strawberry picking farm.

Even if you have struggled with going plastic free, hopefully that has helped you to realise that we rely on plastic too much and something needs to change. Every little change you make helps and if everyone did a bit it would have a big impact. It's important not to let the difficulty discourage you, maybe it's a sign that we need more systematic change through government legislation and shops making changes to make it easier to go plastic free.

ReRoute member Katie gave Plastic Free July a try this year

“Although I found it difficult at first, I started small and made some everyday changes like bringing my own water bottle and once I saw how easy it was to do that I wanted to do more. Now I try to bake my own bread, grow vegetables and herbs in window boxes, and take my own bags to put apples and onions in at the supermarket! Many things we do which use plastic are just habits and can be replaced with alternatives with not too much effort. There are still many ways I can improve, and over time I aim to change this but for now I am happy with how much plastic I have managed to cut out and it’s a change I plan to keep up”.

Katie's top tips for reducing how much plastic you use

- Keep doing what you can once plastic free July has finished -Try new things: you might really enjoy doing something that initially seemed overwhelming -Talk to your friends and family about the importance of reducing single use plastic -Write letters to your local MSP or shops and campaign for less plastic packaging

Some helpful online resources are Plastic Free July, Marine Conservation Society's Plastic Challenge and Treading My Own Path