Happy Plastic Free July!

This is my FIFTH Plastic Free July!  Four years ago, in 2013, I decided to participate in my first Plastic Free July, and for the first time, really started to think about the trash I produced on a regular basis.

Whether you want to start small, or make big changes, there are plenty of ways to reduce your disposable plastic footprint this month.

Avoiding Plastic On the Go | Cellist Goes Green

On the go

I keep these in my tote bag at all times to avoid unwanted surprise plastic when I'm out and about.

Water bottle
Stay hydrated everyone!

Cloth napkin
Good for using as a napkin, or wrapping baked goods from the store. Or when someone brings food to work, and you don't want to use a plastic plate.

Metal spork
This has helped me avoid so many plastic utensils.  Get one here.

Tiny, collapsible shopping bag
I plan my shopping trips to the bulk store, but if I have to pick up broccoli or peaches quickly at the local grocery store, I keep this with me to avoid paper or plastic bags.

Stainless steel tiffin
Good for bringing homemade lunches to work, or bringing restaurant leftovers home.  Find one here.

Other ways I avoid plastic on the go:

Say no to plastic straws.
Whenever I'm eating out, I always ask for no straw.  If you really like drinking from straws, you can also bring your own glass or stainless one.

Drink my coffee or tea in the cafe.
I usually have my morning tea or coffee at home, or if I'm in a rush I will pour it into a stainless steel thermos, but sometimes I'll grab coffee or tea with my husband or friends out.  For those times, I would rather linger in the cafe with a real mug.

To read last year's Plastic Free July posts (I blogged every day!), click here: Plastic Free July 2016

This post includes affiliate links to Life Without Plastic, a company whose mission of providing ethical, plastic-free products I fully support.

Bring your own to go zero waste

Happy Earth Day!

  In honor of the occasion, here are some things you can do to reduce your waste today.

Bring your own to go zero-waste today:

Bring a bag for groceries, produce, the bulk section, shopping for anything!

Water Bottle
Bring your own glass or stainless steel water bottle.

Coffee mug
Or make your own at home (just don't use those pesky pods :)!

Keep some real utensils in your bag or car so you don't get stuck with the disposable plastic variety.

Or ask for no straw.

Cutting down trees for disposable napkins is silly.

You'll end up using much less packaging if you bring lunch from home.  And get a more satisfying meal.

Take-out container
Going out to eat? Avoid the Styrofoam, and bring a container for the leftovers.

Hand towel
No more decisions between using perfectly good trees for a one-use disposable product or a hand dryer that never really gets your hands dry.  Bring your own pocket-sized towel.

One last super-important thing you can do: Compost! 
Composting drastically reduces the amount of waste you will be putting in the landfill, and takes pretty much zero extra time.

If you have even a tiny backyard, you can do it!  Also, many municipalities now have city-wide composting if you are an apartment dweller.

How to travel with less plastic waste

My husband and I took our honeymoon to Ireland and England this past month, and I was immensely disturbed by the amount of disposable plastic that was present throughout our flights.  But believe it or not, you can make it through a trip abroad without consuming much, if any, plastic--you just have to take a little time to plan ahead.

(With help from our cat Ollie!)

(With help from our cat Ollie!)

On the plane

1. Bring your own food.  Is this even allowed?  The answer is yes (just as long as it's not a liquid).  We packed our own reusable bags of almonds and dried fruit so we had something to snack on instead of stale pretzels wrapped in plastic.

2. Bring a reusable water bottle and mug for hot drinks.  Yes, you can bring your own water bottle, just make sure it is empty when you go through security.  You should also take it out of your luggage to go through the x-ray so that they can see that it's empty.  Once you are past security, fill up your water bottle at a water fountain, and you're good to go.  When you are on the plane, you can also ask for the flight attendant to put your tea or coffee in your own travel mug.  They have no problem doing this, and I didn't even get a weird look!

3. Reuse your quart size plastic bag.  When you are done with your trip, do not throw this away!  Keep it with your luggage for the next time you have to fly.

4. Find alternative containers for liquids.  I was determined to find an alternative to the 3.4 oz plastic bottles for my carry on.  And I did!  I initially thought baby food jars might work, but they ended up being too big.  (Side note: I was the crazy person measuring a jar of baby food at the store calculating its volume).  However, I found that

Target sells small glass bottles of spices.  I bought three bottles, emptied the cinnamon into a mason jar, and used them for my liquids in my carry on.  And they even had metal lids!

Unfortunately, Target doesn't list them on their website, but they are in stores, under the Archer Farms brand.  Here's a picture:

When you are at your destination

1. Don't use those little bottles of shampoo.  I know it's tempting, but use your own shampoo and conditioner.  Those little bottles are an enormous waste of plastic (and those shampoos are never very good anyway).  Which gets me to my next point...

2. Bring bar soap and shampoo.  We've all used bar soap before, but a shampoo bar?  There are several companies that make solid shampoo bars that work just as well as their bottled alternatives.  (Chagrin Valley is my favorite--they are a small family run business out of Ohio).  This way, you only have the soap wrapper to deal with, instead of a plastic bottle that will never go away.  My husband also brought his bar of shaving soap.

But how to pack them away when you are traveling back home, or to another destination?  I just wrapped ours in washcloths and stuck them back in our suitcase.  Super easy.  My favorite thing about this is that it means less liquids you have to take through security.

3.Use reusable utensils when you are eating out. Traveling (especially out of the country) usually means more eating out than usual.  If you happen to grab a quick bite to eat, you don't need to use the throw away plastic forks they give you--bring your own! I packed my own bamboo utensils, and they took up hardly any room in our luggage.

Traveling should not be an excuse to start recklessly using disposables that you would not normally use when at home.  You do not need to shop at the travel aisle at the pharmacy with tiny, plastic bottles.  Now, one more thing I would suggest--if you will be on a long flight, eat at the airport before you get on the plane.  The meals they serve you on the plane are entirely wrapped in plastic, and I was quite hungry on the way home, I have to say.

Are there any things you have done to reduce your plastic waste while traveling?  Anything I missed?  Please share!