Happy Plastic Free July, booklovers! Here at Green Hills, we thought we’d put together a list of our favourite planet-loving and plastic-free gift ideas.

But first! Did you know that if we don’t make serious changes to the way we live, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish in the sea? It’s heartbreaking, but it doesn’t have to be. I know from experience that it can be pretty easy to turn a blind eye and throw up our hands when it all feels too hard and overwhelming.

People often ask, ‘what’s the point of not using a plastic shopping bag when half our produce is wrapped in plastic anyway?’ The answer is: every little bit counts. It might sound like a cliché, but it’s 100% true. We can’t always wait for the powers that be to make the changes for us. Every time we say no to a straw, or remember to take our reusable cups for that daily caffeine hit, that is one less piece of waste that ends up in the bin… to end up in landfill or fall off the back of a truck or get picked up by the wind and end up in the drain, in the ocean, in a turtle’s belly.

This is my third year participating in Plastic Free July and I feel like this year is a little different to the last. The energy and excitement is palpable. More people are joining Facebook groups to share plastic-free tips, taking their reusable containers to the deli counter, and buying stainless steel straws. After the success of the ABC’s War on Waste series last year (second season coming soon!), the release of the film Blue, and general growing awareness of environmentalism, sustainability and waste, things are really ramping up. Here in the Hunter, Lake Macquarie Council has introduced food scrap bins for every household – everything compostable goes in the green bin, which is now collected every week!

It’s so rewarding to see books like How to Live Plastic Free, A Zero Waste Life, and Low Tox Life trending on the front table in our store, and people bringing their own bags to ‘do their bit’. Especially with Coles and Woolworths recently removing all their single-use plastic bags, I’ve never seen so many green bags wandering through the store (attached to a human, of course). Some days I feel like I’m living in a beautiful green bubble of planet love.

Joco Reusable Glass Coffee Cups

Sad news: most takeaway coffee cups are not recyclable because they contain a thin plastic lining (hot liquid + cardboard = no-go zone). But never fear, these Joco cups are hand-blown by artists, 100% plastic-free and certified non-toxic. The (recycled cardboard) packaging also claims that these cups provide a head-tilt-free drinking experience. Look, I did not know that was a thing, so consider me sold!

Bonus points if you also check out our Robert Gordon stoneware cups with silicone lids – they’re designed and made in Australia.

Loving Earth chocolate

Vegan, organic, delicious, fair trade, Australian. With compostable packaging – so you can chuck the wrapping straight into your garden, compost or green bin. What’s not to like?

Sow n Sow seed gifts

What better way to be friends with the environment than to plant more plants? Sow n Sow is an Australian brand that combines a designer greeting card with a packet of seeds in 100% recycled and eco-friendly paper packaging.

Salus milk soap

One of the most difficult things to give up for Plastic Free July has been my beloved Original Source body wash (it smells like fruity candy snacks), but Salus soap bars have made the transition easier. A creamy, cleansing bar of goat’s milk soap that’s suitable for the face and body. The whole Salus range of Australian-made, natural products is delicious (nb: not edible).

Out of Print canvas tote bags

if you’re not a fan of generic green or brown reusable bags, look no further than the delectably bookish Out of Print tote bags. Each purchase also helps fund literacy programs and book donations to communities in need.

Bonus points if you also grab one of our Harry Hartog totes at the checkout. They’re awesome. No bias.

Apiary Made beeswax wrap

Gone are the days of pesky plastic gladwrap. These sustainable beeswax food wraps are a natural, reusable product that ensures no waste whatsoever. Wrap your bread, cheese, veggies, sandwiches, etc to keep everything fresh.

You know the best bit about Plastic Free July? Books are not plastic. PHEW. Keep reading, people!