Living Pantry celebrates Plastic Free July


This summer, the Plastic Free July movement is encouraging people worldwide to cut down on single-use plastic waste.

Blaine’s own low-waste store, Living Pantry, is supporting that mission. Store owners Shawna and Seppi Morris have been engaged in low-waste practices for years and first learned about Plastic Free July in 2020, Shawna said.

“We’ve got all of this opportunity to make change here,” Shawna said. “I got inspired looking at the Plastic Free July website because if you read the story about how it got started, it was just a small town government group that was like, ‘Hey, let’s have these public picnics without plastic.’”

Plastic Free July began in 2011 in Western Australia but has since expanded into a global initiative run by the nonprofit organization Plastic Free Foundation. An estimated 326 million people participated in 2020, according to the Plastic Free July impact report.

Though Living Pantry sells many of the recommended plastic-free alternatives to commonly used products, its more invested in promoting sustainability and bringing awareness to environmental issues. Seppi Morris appreciates that Plastic Free July brings attention to those issues and plastic alternatives.    

“It’s a great resource,” Seppi said. “It’s a great starting point. And what we’ve created here, what we do, it’s plastic-free every day. There’s so many alternatives out there people don’t know or think about.”

The Morrises noted it’s important for anyone interested in reducing their plastic waste to set realistic and intentional goals.

“There’s no soapboxes,” Shawna said. “We’re humble in knowing that we’re all doing the best we can, but there’s also a cop out in that. When we say, ‘Oh, I’m doing the best I can,’ we’re also giving ourselves an allowance not to be better.”

Four of the easiest swaps to make immediately include reusable alternatives to plastic bags, bottled water, disposable coffee cups and plastic straws, Shawna said.

Other easy steps to reduce waste include:

• Beeswax food wraps instead of plastic wrap.

• Bamboo or wood toothbrushes instead of plastic toothbrushes. 

• DIY body scrubs instead of commercial body scrubs, which contain microplastics.

• Reusable feminine hygiene products instead of single-use products.

• Travel utensils instead of disposable plastic utensils.

• Stainless steel razors and replaceable blades instead of plastic razors with plastic cartridges.

• Scrubs and dishcloths instead of plastic-based sponges.

Living Pantry’s Plastic Free July plan is still in the works, but the Morrises intend to make zero-waste kits customers can purchase. In addition to selling plastic-free alternatives, the store is also a hub for discussing sustainability practices and gathering ideas.

“We came with a certain foundation of knowledge and awareness, and that has grown through the knowledge and expertise of the people that come in here,” Shawna said. “The idea was that we would create a community hub of sharing information.”

Getting kids involved in Plastic Free July can also help keep adults accountable, Living Pantry employee Rosa Siron said. One way to get kids interested is by doing a trash audit, which involves analyzing the contents of a trash can to identify waste and set goals.

Plastic Free July may only happen one month out of the year, but the changes participants make can continue beyond that. The 2020 impact report included that 8.5 out of 10 participants in 2020 made changes that became habits they will continue

More information about Plastic Free July and ideas for reducing plastic waste are available on the Plastic Free July website,


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