Welcome to the second week of Plastic-Free July! We hope the tips we shared last week on ‘Refuse‘ helped you kickstart your plastic-free journey. As a reminder, each week during Plastic-Free July, we will focus on each of the 5 R’s of Zero-Waste and provide practical tips to incorporate them into your life. Just to refresh your memory, the 5 R’s are Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot. This week, our focus is on the second “R” – Reduce.

The 5 R’s are interconnected and often represented as a circular guide, as seen on the left. This means some tips provided can be used interchangeably between the R’s and may be repeated. Last week, we discussed refusing single-use plastics. Now we’ll look at the next step –  reducing plastics you already have or can’t refuse. This can involve minimizing your belongings by donating or selling items you no longer need, or simply avoiding overconsumption by purchasing only what you truly require.

Below are some effective ways to reduce single-use plastics:


Take a look at the things around you and let go of what no longer brings you joy. No, we aren’t talking about the extreme Marie Kondo method, but rather going through that pile of clothes in the back of your closet that you haven’t touched in years. Go through your cabinets and dig out those unused appliances hidden in the back corners or the collections of mini-shampoo bottles from your travels that you swear you’ll use one day.

Reduce the amount of plastic in your home by giving these items a second chance with someone else instead of throwing them away. You can donate them, sell them on online marketplaces, or join your local Buy Nothing Facebook group to give them to members of your local community for free.

Spending Freeze

We’ve all been guilty of impulse buying. The next time you see something you want, ask yourself if you really need it now or if it can wait. If it isn’t a necessary purchase, try waiting a week or even a month, and you might find that you no longer desire that item.

Quality over Quantity

While some products may seem cheaper initially, they may break down easily and require frequent replacement. By reducing your purchases and investing in higher-quality items, you can save money in the long run. Each small action counts, and together, we can make a significant change.

One example of reducing single-use plastics is by using beeswax wraps instead of plastic wrap. At first glance, plastic wrap may appear cheaper for covering leftovers, making it the go-to choice for most shoppers. However, beeswax wraps can be reused multiple times, more uses than a single roll of plastic wrap. Beeswax wraps serve a variety of purposes beyond covering bowls of leftovers. They can also be used to wrap sandwiches and snacks, providing a plastic-free alternative to sandwich bags.

Beeswax wraps can be purchased at many local retailers, or if you’re in the DIY mood you can make your own!

Shop in Bulk or at Farmers’ Markets

Opt for stores that allow you to purchase food in bulk or visit local farmers’ markets. These options provide a great opportunity to go plastic-free from the source. You might already know about Bulk Barn, but there are other local stores in Ottawa, such as NU Grocery or terra20, that offer bulk/zero-waste shopping. Students can also consider sharing items like a jug of laundry detergent with friends or using stores like terra20, where you can bring your own container and fill it with the exact amount you need, avoiding wasted product upon move-out. 

Stay tuned for next week’s post, where we will explore the third “R” – Reuse. We’ll go through some cool tips for ways to reuse and repurpose plastics that you haven’t been able to refuse or reduce!

To learn more and take the Plastic-Free July pledge, visit our webpage, the Plastic Free July Challenge.

Monday, July 10, 2023 in ,
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