25 Creative Ideas for ‘Plastic Free July’

25 Creative Ideas for ‘Plastic Free July’

It’s already July!? Wow… the months are zooming by!

I usually try to blog about my Plastic Free July efforts, but this month really got away from me, and to be honest, I’ve been failing at it!

Just today, I was in between appointments at the radio station with my coworkers for a song recording project (more on a later post!) and filming an interview for the same project in Vaitogi which drew out longer than I expected… and I was so hungry that I caved and got an iced coffee that came in a single use plastic cup with a plastic lid… andddd… I had McDonald’s for the first time in more than two years!! It was surprisingly mostly plastic free, except the dip packaging, and the drink lid/straw that I forgot to refuse when I got my order… le sigh*

Anyhow, long story short… I’m still doing my best, but some days, my “best” doesn’t really look very good. Still, I love that an entire month is dedicated to being mindful of our plastic consumption and that there is a growing worldwide movement towards bigger change, just by taking small steps at home.

So to keep myself in check, I wanted to share 25 creative ideas for Plastic Free July… these are ideas that aren’t just about plastics per se, but are about reducing waste in general, and ways to live more mindfully and sustainably.


  1. DIY unpaper towels
  2. Carry your cute tote bags everywhere
  3. Make up a recipe using existing food in your fridge/pantry
  4. Use a bidet
  5. Declutter your physical space and digital space
  6. Clothing swap with friends
  7. Go thrift shopping
  8. Practice saying ‘no, thank you’ to politely refuse single use cutlery and straws
  9. reuse pasta jars
  10. Ditch plastic water bottles forever
  11. Go ‘naked’ when choosing fruits and veg
  12. Learn to mend your clothes to give it new life
  13. Start a compost
  14. Grow your own herbs and vegetables
  15. Host or participate in a beach cleanup
  16. Switch all paper mail to e-mails instead
  17. Learn about your town’s recycling programs
  18. Turn off the lights – conserve energy
  19. Make your own household cleaners with natural ingredients
  20. Opt for solid bar soaps, shampoos, and conditioners
  21. Make food at home instead of eating out
  22. Start a daily or weekly budget tracker
  23. Air dry your laundry
  24. Create your own “zero waste kit
  25. Be kind always – it’s free, and good for the planet!

Week 1 Recap of Plastic Free July

Week 1 Recap of Plastic Free July

Hello hello!

I’m here to keep myself accountable as I said I would… so here’s a recap of my week 1 doing the Plastic Free July challenge.

Prepping for the challenge

To prep for the Plastic Free July challenge, I had set some realistic goals and expectations for myself and did a really quick scan of my home to look out for ways I could improve. I got my zero waste kit ready, and I also received some mail I ordered last month which came just in time for Plastic Free July. One package was for Ian — I had ordered him a pair of upcycled boardshorts from Vissla made from coconut fibers. His other pair of board shorts have worn out so this was my little gift to him. The other package was for me, containing 7 pairs of period panties from Thinx. Just typing the words ‘period panties’ feels weird and almost TMI but I liked that the cardboard packaging the undies came in essentially said “we’re saying bye to stigmas around periods”. Anyway, I’m excited and feel more equipped to tackle the month.

July 1 — Didn’t use any new single use plastics (SUPs) on my first day! I’ve come to terms with the fact that if there are single use plastics that are already in our home (i.e. chopsticks from previous takeout orders), those would be okay as long as we reuse them and try to avoid new SUPs. I also learned how to make popcorn on my own! We got popcorn kernels in bulk last year and Ian normally makes the popcorn, so this was a win for me, because I was itching so hard to buy a bag of chips at the store for a snack and instead made this plastic free snack. I also started watching decluttering videos on YouTube because I’m in need of some minimization inspiration, and found these old bags in my closet that I never really use because they’re tucked away. Giving away the teal one, and keeping the fabric bag because I made it around 10 years ago!

Day 1 success rating: 10/10

July 2 — Decided to treat ourselves and get lunch from Henry’s Diner. I love their fried chicken and mashed potatoes, mmmm! We were only going to order one dish each, but we brought six of our food containers, and good thing we did because they all got used up! They always give really large Samoan sized servings, and they put each food item in a separate container. I love it because it always means delish now, and delish later when we have leftovers. We were hungry and excited, we got home and set it out like a big mukbang spread and put on our current favorite show, Community. We thought we did so well avoiding SUPs, but we later noticed they included two small plastic sauce cups in our container. A good lesson learned to include our own sauce cups in the future. Overall, valiant effort!

Day 2 success rating: 9/10

July 3 — We got the day off from work for the federal holiday. Ian wasn’t feeling too well, so I spent nearly the entire day with Gabby, and boy was it a busy day. We went fabric shopping at Island Image, and brought our own reusable bag, avoiding the plastic bag they almost gave us. Then we did some groceries, and it was a bit disappointing to really look around at the supermarkets and see almost all the produce wrapped in plastic and styrofoam. Most of our island’s food and supplies are imported by cargo ships from the mainland. I couldn’t avoid SUPs this day because I needed to get food supplies for the next couple weeks, and I did a bad thing and caved into my potato chip addiction, and got a jumbo bag of potato chips, since I was messing up anyway! I was also bummed to find a grab and go lunch box all packaged in plastic. For some reason, I didn’t think it would be, because it’s from a local cafe that really tries to make sustainable efforts. But of course, convenience, options, costs… they all play a factor here. BUT no hard feelings. I am also of the mind that we are imperfect, and all we can do is try our best, and minimize our plastic consumption as much as we can. It was a good eye opener though, about how jaded I’ve become (even though I’m a huge proponent for sustainable/low waste living) that I forgot how much of what we buy at the stores has plastic, and how abundant it is in our daily lives. I hope we can turn this part of the culture around. Later, I went with Gabby on one of her photo shoots, and then we stopped by Tradewinds for Charles’ birthday. He had so much yummy food! Luckily, Gabby had compostable paper clamshell takeout plates in her car, so we used those instead of styrofoam plates. I also had two pairs of chopsticks in my bag, and my reusable water bottled topped up, so we did pretty well considering!

Day 3 success rating: 6/10

July 4 — Learned to make almond flour pancakes with organic agave syrup at home! Ian suggested to add an over medium egg too, and I was skeptical at first but it tasted so good! Afterwards, Ian and I went out and bought a brand new washing machine! There wasn’t really much of any plastic, except for the stickers on the washing machine, and the large cardboard box was given to our neighbors to use as their kids’ new playhouse. I forgot it was the 4th of July, but I think I caught what Ian had the day prior. I was so lethargic that I took a nap on the floor of our living room, and Ian carried me to bed where I slept for most of the afternoon.

Day 4 success rating: 10/10

July 5 — Went to church, and my zero waste kit was all ready to go! We had toana’i (Sunday group lunch) after church to celebrate two church members’ birthdays. They had paper plates, plastic utensils, and plastic water bottles, and Ian and I looked at each other sideways and nodded. Ian and I grabbed our containers that we keep in the car for these “just in case moments”, I brought my own water bottle, and I also still had some leftover compostable utensils and chopsticks in my bag. We avoided SUPs the rest of the day!

Day 5 success rating: 10/10

July 6 — Did a good job I thought. I drank my morning matcha out of a reused glass pasta jar with a metal straw. I ate potato chips and shared on my daily instagram stories about how I felt a bit guilty about it, but I expalined, potato chips are my weakness! All other new SUPs were otherwise avoided. Gabby came over and hung out after work, and we started sewing her duvet cover with the fabric she bought at Island Image over the weekend. I was also stoked to get a few messages from friends on instagram who have watched my daily Plastic Free July updates, and how they were inspired to start the challenge too! I had some really good conversations about ideas on reusing glass jars for a variety of purposes like for propagating plants, as drinking glasses, to put homemade gifts into, or for shell collections. Those interactions have motivated me to keep sharing my sustainability journey on here and on instagram, and to try my best!

Day 6 success rating: 10/10

July 7 — A little change of scenery from the past few months, as I worked from my office in town on this day. Ian and I made plans to have lunch together at Ruby Red Cafe. We were going to eat in, but I still brought my zero waste kit in case I had leftovers. Which was a good call, because I did in fact have leftovers. I also had my own utensils with me in my bag, so I used that. Ruby Red Cafe has paper takeout boxes but it’s always good to avoid waste when possible. Plus, Ruby Red Cafe does this amazing thing where they will offer a 50-cent discount if customers bring their own reusable containers! I think it’s a great incentive, and another reason why I will always love supporting their small business. After work, Gabby asked me to go with her to Photogenix because she was going to pick up a photo frame. We went but turns out Photogenix was closed, so instead, we spontaneously decided to go thrifting at Savers Samoa just down the street. We were there for like, 2 hours! But we got some really good vintage pieces for suuuuuper cheap! And I’m very happy to say that I’ve made the shift to slow fashion over the years, including making my own clothes, repairing clothes I already own, and buying second hand. I’ve only had to buy some new pieces (like my Thinx period underwear) out of necessity, and I plan to wear and rewear them for many many many years.

Day 7 success rating: 10/10

Whew! What an update!

The Plastic Free July challenge is just that, a challenge. It has also been very rewarding and taught me a lot already in the first week. This is my third year doing Plastic Free July, and I feel renewed stoke for sustainable living. Hopefully we do better in week 2!

My Plastic Free July Goals and Expectations

My Plastic Free July Goals and Expectations

A new month is here, and with it comes my favorite sustainability challenge all year — Plastic Free July.

What is Plastic Free July? Simply, it’s 31 days of making an effort to avoid single-use plastic that contribute to pollution and waste.

Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. 

This is my third year trying this challenge, and I’m excited to see how I might have improved as I’ve been incorporating different sustainable swaps at home over the years that have helped me immensely to live as low impact as possible.

And while July is a great month to audit my environmental impact, I also want to use this month to make other home and wellness improvements. So to keep myself accountable as much as possible, I’m listing my goals and expectations for this month. I’ll also try to post at least weekly updates on my wins, fails, and the sustainable lifestyle journey.

Tote bags for Plastic Free July

My Goals for Plastic Free July

Avoid and refuse any and all single-use plastics such as straws, plastic bags, coffee cups, takeaway cutlery, etc.

Always bring my zero waste kit with me when I leave the house.

Choose to buy local when possible.

Eat less meat.

Discover more sustainable swaps to incorporate into my home.

Minimize material things, and declutter my home.

Be more mindful of my wardrobe, and shift my clothes to slow fashion only.

My Expectations for Plastic Free July

I expect that I’ll be able to avoid a lot single-use plastic because it’s what I already do in my day to day life. I do expect that food shopping will definitely be difficult because so much of our food on island is imported in plastic and styrofoam. I expect I’ll fail sometimes, but I won’t dwell on those because it’s all about making the effort and moving forward.

My “zero waste kit” goes through iterations of essentials to curb my plastic consumption, but my go-to basics are my reusable water bottle, a sturdy tote bag, and utensils I already own. My expectation is that I’ll do a decent job at taking my zero waste kit around but I anticipate some honest mistakes like forgetting to request “no straw, please” when at restaurants.

Buying local is obviously the first choice because it supports our local economy, but unfortunately a lot of local produce comes packaged in non-renewable plastic. I expect that this will likely be our exceptions to the challenge because we love local produce but we’re still thinking of ways to improve.

I’ve already eliminated beef and pork from my diet, and have been getting more into plant-based products, so I think I’ll do pretty good on that this month.

We’ve transitioned our home into a much more conscious environment — composting our food scraps, sorting our glass, and aluminums for recycling, and have made various changes to little things like using cloth napkins instead of paper towels, using soap and shampoo bars, etc. There’s a lot more of the little stuff that are harder for us, like how to get a more eco-friendly toothpaste option since it’s not readily available on island. I’ve tried DIY’ing toothpaste, and it did not turn out. So I’ll be looking for other swaps that we can make and even if there’s just one or two little things we change, that will make a big difference.

I just started on decluttering my home today, and have already culled more than 20 miscellaneous items from my home, and that was just in one hour of decluttering! There’s probably about a hundred more things I could get rid of… my neighbor is hosting a clothing swap in the next few weeks, so I’ll be organizing my stuff to a giveaway pile, and donate pile. I hope that by the end of the month, through daily decluttering, I’ll be able to minimize my material possessions to only things that are functional and bring me joy.

If you’ve seen some of my recent blog posts, you’ll see that I’ve started sewing again and making my own clothing pieces. It was my goal last year to not shop fast fashion, and I think I did okay but this month I will go more thoroughly through my wardrobe and try to repair some pieces that need TLC, and think about how much I wear and rewear pieces to identify my favorite essential clothing and get rid of ones that I don’t need or wear.

Overall, I feel like my mindset is in the right place. My sustainability journey has been eye opening over the past three to four years. My habits are continually shifting; I’m more mindful of my consumption; and I am enjoying every step of the way.

DIY: Cloth Bento Bag

DIY: Cloth Bento Bag

Please welcome the newest addition to my zero waste kit – this 100% cotton cloth bento bag!

I love the florals, the elephants, the colors and the paisley pattern. And it’s so so soft. I’ve been loving my lime green cloth bento bag that I made several months ago as a draft but the seams are messy. I’ll continue to use it as a backup bento bag and for grocery shopping. This new bento bag is extra special to me because the fabric is from an upcycled circle skirt that I bought from a market in India back in 2012. I’ve always loved the soft cotton material and the earthy tones so I kept it over the years even though I almost never wore it.

Cloth bento bags are useful for carrying leftovers in containers, produce from grocery stores (instead of plastic), and I’ve even used it for pizza takeaway (the only time I ever had to wash it). They’re also great as reusable gift wrappers.


Measure 10 inches x 30 inches of fabric and cut with some space for seam allowance. Width to height


From bottom left corner of your rectangle, fold  up so it’s aligned with the top of the fabric, making a triangle.


From top right corner of rectangle, fold down so it’s aligned with the bottom of fabric, making another triangle.


Now from bottom right edge, fold up diagonally so that your folded fabric looks like the photo above.


Sew up where the edges meet on the front and back so you have this open box shape. Swipe right to see the finished project above.

And voila – you’re done!

To use, simply put your tupperware/ produce/ gift inside and tie a knot. It may not look like much but the knot will hold and you can easily carry it around in your lunch bag or tote.

Thanks to everyone who wrote me about my sustainable living posts!

For more posts like this, click here!