It is no secret how much we rely on plastic in our lives. You can hardly go a few minutes without seeing plastic in some form and now more than ever articles or news stories covering the negative impacts on our environment are prevalent. To most of us, it makes us sad, and mad. And many of us are doing something about it!
From trying to change policies that reduce or eliminate the manufacture of single-use plastics to picking up plastic litter on the beach – every and all effort to shift habits are important. Yet, it is clear there is a larger shift at an infrastructure level to accomplish even more.
How bad is it? Let’s take just ONE item and look at the problem . . . the plastic bag. One single-use plastic bag is estimated to have a lifespan of 12 minutes, according to Environment Massachusetts. In 2014, the Earth Policy Institute said that one trillion single-use bags were used every year — about 2 million each minute. And after its initial use, the World Economic Forum estimates that “95% of plastic packaging material value, or $80-120 billion annually, is lost to the economy. It goes on and on and on. Just think of the numbers if we start looking at plastic cups, plates, straws, bottles, containers, packaging, etc., etc.
By now, many of us are pretty good about taking canvas bags with us when we go grocery shopping (with the exception of some stores banning their use due to the coronavirus pandemic). And many now use reusable water bottles instead of single-use plastic ones. Still, we see plastic bags and bottles all around us. What else can we do? By urging for larger shifts away from plastic into new structures and materials we are creating awareness at a structural level to drive leaders to make more sustainable changes in the future.
That is why we’re so excited to join in on Plastic Free July. This global movement helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. The more we refuse and choose to reuse, the wider the message spreads! Will you be part of Plastic Free July by choosing to refuse single-use plastics?
At the start of the month, we invited you to select one single-use item to commit to REFUSE all of July.
Starting small and making commitments you can stick with can do a lot more than you’d think. Here are three ideas for plastic alternatives you might opt to use instead!
- Ditch the plastic straws – Like most of the single-use plastic items offered to us, we need to re-train ourselves and hesitate before automatically accepting what is presented to us. So first, do you really need a straw? Some might have a medical reason, but the vast majority of us use it for convenience. So maybe you can just get in the habit of NOT using a straw. If you must have one, there are plenty of stainless steel or bamboo options you can purchase and keep one or two in your car, or bag and just wash and reuse.
- Use your own To Go and Take Out containers – As we start to ease into safely eating out again, we suggest keeping some of your own containers in your car/bag for the event you have leftovers. This is a simple way to negate using to-go containers which are often wax or plastic-lined making them non-compostable.
- Refill or Buy in Bulk – While there are still many markets not allowing bulk bins for food due to the pandemic, there are other plastic-free options when buying bulk home and body products. For example, swapping out the traditional liquid cleaners such as body wash, shampoo or conditioner for bars is a simple way to stop adding to the approximately 52 million bottles which end up in landfills each year. We’re so grateful to have refill shop options in Southern California such as The Nada Shop in Encinitas or Earthwell Refill in Kensington where you can bring your own containers to refill home and body products such as soap, shampoo, lotion, laundry detergent, dishwashing and dishwasher soap, toothpaste, vinegar (and more!) or shop package-free brands. There are also online sites such as Shop with Good Intent, By Humankind, and Habitat Botanicals that offer many package-free products.
We want to hear from you! What other alternatives to products or activities are you enjoying weaving into your plastic-free lifestyle?