Simple ways to be more sustainable—let’s start today!

Quit single use plastics for an entire month. That was the pledge I took this July as part of #plasticfreeJuly, a global movement based out of Australia. The goal was simple. Eliminate single use plastics. Simple? Eliminate? As in not use ANY single use plastics for an entire month?  Was that even possible? I wanted to find out.

As I was signing up for the pledge, my husband asked, “Does the whole family have to participate?” And “Should I buy multiple bottles of shampoo on June 30th, so we don’t run out?”

What were the parameters? Who would keep track of my progress? Would there be repercussions if I failed? And what does failure look like?

“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly.
We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
~Anne Marie Bonneau

A little background first. I’m a published children’s book author doing research for a middle grade series that addresses the climate crisis. One of the books I’m writing is about ocean plastic pollution. Over the last few years of doing this research, I’ve taken a good hard look at my own plastic dependency and have made significant changes in our home.

In our house, I only use:

  • Reusable grocery bags and reusable produce bags
  • No pods—bare tablets or powder for the dishwasher, washing machine, toilet
  • Concentrated liquid dish soap & hand soap
  • No plastic sandwich bags (aka Ziploc) except the ones people bring over, and then I reuse them until they wear out
  • Bamboo toilet paper and paper towels
  • Biodegradable dog poop bags

For me, the pledge #plasticfreejuly was about how to eliminate single use plastic for the month of July IN ADDITION to what I was already doing.

Guess what?

On July 1st, the very first day of the pledge, I failed. I was handed a plastic cup, and I felt guilty. There was no alternative besides cupping my hands together. My hubby was very quick to point out that I used plastic. Like he was trying to catch me in the act. I replied, “What was I supposed to do? Put my mouth up to the soda machine and drink it straight from the tap?”

The point is guilt/failure/blame/jest should have nothing to do with trying to improve one’s sustainability efforts. Sometimes using plastic is unavoidable. Overhauling the plastic dependency means making little, conscious decisions every day. Forgiving oneself and trying again.


As the hot summer, July days rolled on, and the plastic wrap in the kitchen drawer begged to be used, I got creative.

  • Dinner plates have more uses than just eating off of them. Got half an apple or onion? Put the cut side down on a plate and stick it in the fridge.
  • Got a bowl that needs a cover? Put a plate on top instead of plastic wrap.
  • Half an avocado? Place it cut side down in a shallow bowl of water.
  • Beeswax wraps work well for cheese.
  • Household cleaner ran low. I made my own. Baking soda, water, and distilled vinegar in a glass spray bottle. A few drops of lemon essential oil. Simple. The Internet has recipes.


Did you know that many companies are taking back their plastic products once you’re finished using them? Go to the company’s website, download the free UPS label, box up your used items, and send them back. Take a look at the brands you use and visit their website to see what they’re doing to be more sustainable. If they don’t have those practices, ask them to start.

  • Oral B and Crest want your (any brand) toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, used dental floss & the containers, electric toothbrush heads, floss picks, teeth whitening strips, and mouthwash. Just empty/clean them first.
  • Nordstroms has a public Terracycle* Zero Waste box. Lotion, creams, makeup, lipsticks, mascara, blush, foundation, eye liners can be discarded there. All brands. Doesn’t matter where you originally purchased these products. All PUMPS from lotion to body wash to liquid soap.
  • Biotrue Eye Care accepts plastic cases, saline solution bottles, and used disposable contact lenses.

*Terracycle Zero Waste Boxes recycle the unrecyclable. Terracycle is multiple things, but the most important thing you need to know is that Terracycle takes your plastic stuff, so it doesn’t end up in the landfill. ‘Cuz you know it’s not actually getting recycled even if you put it in the recycling bin, right? 🙂

Check out their website

Recently I was featured in Bloomberg’s Greener Living for the very pledge that I’m writing this blog on. The article is called “To Cut Plastic Waste Out of Your Life Start Small.” Here’s the link