Illustration by Lou Hudson

Plastic alternatives

It’s Plastic Free July! “Plastic Free July® is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the…

It’s Plastic Free July! “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”.

If you want to take part in Plastic Free July, but aren’t sure where to start, here are a few ideas of some simple swaps you can make to reduce the amount of plastic you are using on a daily basis. 

Water bottles and coffee cups

This is a fairly obvious one but there are a whole bunch of options when it comes to choosing them. It’s easy to find plastic and metal reusable water bottles, but did you also know that you can get plant-based and bamboo water bottles, and coffee cups made of recycled coffee cups? Not only are they reusable, they are also much better for the environment.

Cling film

Instead of using cling film for leftovers, consider using silicone sealable food bags or beeswax food wraps. You can find food wraps in most eco-friendly, zero waste shops, and reusable food bags are readily available online. Beeswax wraps are washable, and if they begin to lose their stick, you can simply heat them gently in the oven to heat the wax and redistribute it. There are also plenty of lovely patterns and designs, often by local artists!


I know, I know. Paper straws are awful. For those who don’t mind them, metal straws are available to buy nearly everywhere and often come with a handy storage bag and cleaner. But if, like me, you don’t like the metallic taste either then there are other options. For example, bamboo straws have a similar feel to plastic but are much better for the environment than plastic.

Shopping bags

Although reusable shopping bags you can buy from grocery shops are a great start, they usually cannot be recycled. Instead consider using cloth bags, or net bags for produce. This will help to reduce your single-use plastic usage every time you go shopping. 

Hot drinks

Next time you’re making a cup of tea in the morning, think about a few changes you could make. Try to avoid buying products in plastic packaging, and think about switching from tea bags to loose tea. You can usually buy loose leaf versions of your favourite tea bags, and infusers can be pretty inexpensive but easy to use. Just make sure you dispose of the used tea leaves correctly. Alternatively, you could try loose leaf tea inside reusable tea bags which can be washed.

Personal care

There is a huge variety of alternatives when it comes to personal care and hygiene,

For example, try to avoid deodorant that comes in plastic packaging or containers, and instead look for metal or cardboard instead. 

You can also use bamboo toothbrushes instead of plastic, although the bristles are still plastic so these need to be removed before you recycle the brush handle. These take a bit of getting used to but are just as effective as regular toothbrushes when you find one you like.

There are plenty more suggestions of what you can do on the Plastic Free July website, as well as in a number of books. Remember, it isn’t about being perfect and making no mistakes, it’s about doing the best you can. Every small change makes a big difference!

The University of Lincoln, in collaboration with the University of Lincoln Students’ Union, is hosting a week of engagement on climate action, in support of COP26. Our aim is to inform, inspire and empower our community to act in response to the Climate and Ecological Emergency that the University of Lincoln declared in 2019.

Find out more about Climate Week and COP26.

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