How To Succeed
in Plastic Free July

female bikepacker sitting on the top of a rock overlooking green trees and the ocean with a klean kanteen classic insulated bottle

Did you know this month is Plastic Free July? A global challenge begun by the Plastic Free Foundation, Plastic Free July is a worldwide initiative to encourage people to solve our plastic pollution crisis and clean up our planet. We’ll tell you about the challenge, show you how easy it is to commit to a plastic-free lifestyle for a month, and give you some tips to help you succeed in Plastic Free July.

What Is Plastic Free July?

Plastic Free July can easily be described as people coming together to make a difference together. More than 100 million people across almost 200 countries have become participants in Plastic Free July, choosing to refuse single-use plastics all month long—whether it’s at home, at restaurants, at school, or wherever single-use plastic might rear its ugly head. The long-term goal of Plastic Free July is to help people develop environmentally friendly habits and show them how sustainable it really is to practice a lifestyle free of single-use plastics. The easiest place to start is by identifying the most commonly used plastic items in your everyday life, especially the ones you tend to not even think about. For most people, this will mean cutting out plastic baggies, plastic bottles, plastic and styrofoam cups, plastic straws, and plastic shopping bags.

How Did Plastic Free July Start?

The award-winning Plastic Free July campaign is the result of a decade-long initiative that, at its core, was based upon the belief that small changes can add up to make a big difference. Started by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz and a small local government team in Australia, the Plastic Free Foundation has transformed into one of the most significant environmental campaigns worldwide. The foundation has found that participants in Plastic Free July reduce household waste by almost 4 percent a year, and on a global scale, they are responsible for a 2.1-billion ton reduction of plastic waste and recycling.

How to Avoid Plastic Baggies

klean kanteen food solutions boxes with meal, lunch, and snack sizes shown.

The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by the year 2050, given global trends in plastic production and consumption, and a great deal of that comes from plastic bags. On average, Americans use an average of one single-use plastic bag every day, compared to Denmark, whose citizens use an average of four a year. Because plastic bags are made from fossil fuels, they begin as inherently harmful; about 14 plastic bags require the equivalent of a mile’s worth of gasoline. Twelve million barrels of oil are used in the manufacture of Americans’ plastic bags alone every single year—about 100 billion of them. The 2018 International Coastal Cleanup collected 1.9 million plastic bags. It’s sufficient to say: Humans use, and abuse, plastic bags on an unbelievable level.

But Plastic Free July is about undoing that harm, and preventing more from happening. The best way to replace single-use plastic baggies in your life is with a long-term alternative that not only will keep more plastics from entering the environment, but also keep your food fresher and intact for much longer, over and over again. Klean Food Solutions—our large and versatile range of reusable food boxes, canisters, and containers—will help you replace every plastic food storage container you have, whether you are packing away a small snack, some soup for lunch, or a full meal. Not only will our food boxes and canisters help you get rid of plastic baggies, but you can also replace standard traditional plastic tupperware, which can warp, leach chemicals into your food over time, and absorb tastes and odors from other foods. Our Food Solutions come in a variety of sizes and styles and are made with stainless steel construction and food-grade silicone lids that keep your food the temperature it’s supposed to be, whether that’s hot or cold, for hours.

All three of our stainless steel food box sizes come with a silicone, leak-proof lid, and our high-performance stainless steel food storage containers feature double-wall vacuum insulated construction in 8-, 16-, and 32-ounce sizes. These TKCanisters keep your food hot or cold for hours, so whether you’re packing away minestrone or mint chip, your snacks and meals will be ready to eat when you are. No plastic baggie or tupperware can say that!

How to Avoid Plastic Bottles

girl holding a 16 oz klean kanteen tkwide bottle in tofu with a tan twist cap lid.

July is a hot month for vacations, road trips, and other getaways. It’s also literally a hot month, typically featuring the highest temps of the year in most of the U.S. These two factors often have Americans in search of convenient, portable drinking vessels, and unfortunately, those are far too often plastic bottles. But single-use plastic pollution is far from an American-specific problem, which is why Plastic Free July is a global initiative. The Plastic Soup Foundation estimates that the number of plastic bottles sold annually is more than 583.3 billion—a number so large that it can be difficult to grasp. To put it in somewhat more understandable terms, that’s a million plastic bottles being consumed every minute across the world, none of which will decompose for centuries and most of which will end up contaminating the natural habitats of many of Earth’s species—including us.

You can save the planet and, in the long run, a lot of money with the purchase of a high-quality, stainless steel bottle to replace your need for single-use plastic bottles. Our TKWide insulated bottles are terrific daily-use bottles, made from certified 90-percent post-consumer recycled stainless steel. They’re available in a ton of styles, colors, and sizes, so you can find the perfect one (or more!) to fit your lifestyle needs, whether it’s a bottle you can throw in a backpack for a weekend hike or a daily driver. The wide mouth of the TKWide bottle is also compatible with a range of different lids and caps, so whether you prefer to pour, chug, or sip from a straw, you can always have the right option on hand. We also have 12-ounce Kid Kanteen bottles with fun colors and designs to help get your little ones practicing good habits early—and our stainless steel construction is heavy-duty enough to stand up to activities of all kinds (and kids of all ages). Our Kid Classic Sport and Sippy caps are perfect additions to your child’s Klean Kanteen.

If you want a wide-mouth bottle but prefer a lighter option, we also have our new single-wall Wide line of bottles in a variety of sizes, making a big addition to our Classic line. These non-insulated bottles are also made of high-quality certified recycled stainless steel but present a lightweight option for increased portability, perfect for those short bike rides or other leisurely outdoor activities.

How to Avoid Plastic and Styrofoam Cups

klean kanteen stainless steel pint cups being used for iced beverages

It’s not just plastic bottles, of course, that present a problem when it comes to enjoying drinks. Plastic and styrofoam cups have become almost synonymous with get-togethers and parties, and it’s unfortunate because the result has been unthinkable amounts of plastic waste and pollution. This is another major area of concern behind Plastic Free July, and a direct way to participate is to cut out the use of these plastic products.

If your go-to for coffee or tea is a styrofoam cup, you can make an immediate change that will be an upgrade you will enjoy for years to come and swap out the harmful waste cup for a Klean Kanteen Camp Mug. This recent addition to the Klean line is a beautifully constructed 12-ounce mug complete with a no-spill lid, ergonomically crafted for easy drinking. Your hot drinks will stay hot for hours without the potential for plastic leaching, or the risk of your coffee burning your hand through your cup. This insulated mug comes in a variety of colors and is dishwasher-safe. You could very well use one coffee mug every time you get a cup, instead of using and discarding a styrofoam cup each time.

And though a certain red plastic cup might be what comes to mind for your summer gatherings, you can help make a huge dent in Plastic Free July by swapping those out for stainless steel cups, too. Klean Kanteen’s steel cups come in 10- and 16-ounce sizes and make for easy, cold drinking far beyond what a perspiring plastic cup might be able to do. Our pints and smaller cups also come in stackable, dishwasher-safe packs, so you can toss them in the truck and use them for the whole group on camping expeditions, beach days, or other outdoor trips. They will never break like glass, and more importantly, they’re infinitely better for the environment than plastic.

How to Avoid Plastic Straws

group using klean kanteen steel pints and stainless steel straws

Because they’re small, plastic straws often get forgotten as a major cause of plastic pollution. We use them almost every time we dine out, take out, or drive through. It’s easy to mindlessly just pop them out of their plastic or paper wrapping and poke them into our drinks, never thinking twice about it. But we should—plastic straws are indeed a major contributor to global plastic pollution, and they are especially dangerous to animal wildlife because of their ability to quickly travel great distances and reach waterways. The WWF estimates that all sea turtles and 90 percent of all seabirds have been found to have consumed plastic. Fortunately, you have two major weapons at your disposal to fight against plastic straws for Plastic Free July.

The first: The power of the word “no.” By declining plastic cutlery and plastic straws at restaurants, you are already making a difference. Many restaurants in California have already begun removing plastic straws as a default offering, asking customers if they’d like one first before automatically setting them on the table. Some other restaurants still have stopped buying them altogether, opting for paper or steel straws. Single-use plastics are not only significantly flimsier and less hygienic than their steel counterparts when it comes to dining, but they’re also clearly worse for the environment. So, even though you might have gotten used to drinking from a plastic straw, it’s a learned behavior that can easily be unlearned.

If you still prefer a straw, there is a second option that’s even better: Buy your own steel straws. Our reusable stainless steel straws are made with certified 90-percent post-consumer recycled 18/8 stainless steel and safe silicone tips for comfortable drinking. Whether you’re drinking a soft drink or a smoothie, the quality construction of our straws will help you enjoy your beverage to the fullest without the devastating environmental impact of a single-use plastic straw. We also offer a variety of lids that work specifically with our stainless steel straws, helping create an optimal drinking experience with minimal leaks and maximum temperature control. They’re easy to take with you, too, so if you really enjoy using a straw in your restaurant beverages, you’ll have your very own on hand.

How to Replace Plastic Shopping Bags

chico bag shown at a yoga studio with a klean kanteen bottle

One of the most obvious changes you can make for Plastic Free July is to eliminate the use of plastic grocery bags, which are especially dangerous because of their tendency to injure and kill animals and clog waterways. Given that most of us frequently shop for enough food to warrant the use of a bag, we ought to make sure that the bags we use can be reused over, and over, and over again, never destined for the landfill.

We are big supporters of ChicoBag, a certified B Corp and Climate Neutral certified. Like us, they’re committed to eliminating single-use items, and this makes them an excellent choice to help you succeed this Plastic Free July. Their bags are high-quality, lightweight, collapsible, and machine washable, making them an ideal choice for trips to the grocery store or farmers market. The classic ChicoBag holds up to 25 pounds and the company estimates that just one bag will replace the need for more than 1,000 single-use plastic bags over its lifetime.

No matter how you do it, every step counts in Plastic Free July. Not only can you make a dent for this month alone, but you can also see firsthand how simple it is to make some small changes that can add up to make a big impact—and you’ll have the experience to be able to show others how easy it is, too. To summarize, you first need to develop awareness of modern humanity’s overreliance on single-use plastics, and take stock of the plastic items you use on a daily basis. Single-use coffee cups, water bottles, and straws are the most common culprits and you should replace them in instances where you can’t go without using a plastic version. Stainless steel water bottles can be reused indefinitely, and reusable stainless steel straws can be a small lifestyle change that saves animal life directly.

Plastic Free July is about doing your best to reduce your plastic footprint, one step at a time. By reducing the amount of single-use plastics you consume daily, reusing higher-quality products made from more sustainable materials, and focusing on using recycled products—like Klean Kanteen water bottles, food storage containers, and straws—you can turn this Plastic Free July into a gateway to an eco-friendly life that really makes an impact.