conservation, Ocean, Special Conservation Designated Events, sustainability, The Art of Ecology

Challenge Yourself to a #PlasticFreeJuly (or whenever – really!)

We all have heard of (hopefully!) the #SkipTheStraw campaign and about several bans on plastic grocery bags, but there is more to reducing plastic waste than just straws, bags, and bottles!

So, why should we reduce plastic use? After all, plastic is SUPER convenient! Have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage patch? This floating island of plastic debris is now twice the size of Texas and is comprised of pieces of trash that may have started its journey on land and due to water runoff and currents, wound up floating in the ocean. From there, animals can confuse it as food and choke on it, or eat it and feel as if their tummies are full, despite the fact that they are getting no nutrition from the plastic, and eventually starve. It is estimated that by 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean will exceed that of the fish in it!

There are currently a total of 5 gyres (garbage patches that form from ocean currents) in the worlds oceans. This number is expected to rise.

Many of us know about plastic’s impact on the ocean, but do you know how much fossil fuel it takes to produce plastics? This fossil fuel pollutes our air and groundwater through accidental leaks.

Yes, plastic can be convenient and helpful in the moment, but remember that most plastic types are forever! They take millions of years to degrade and this process takes even longer when buried underground in a landfill. 

By reducing our plastic consumption, we can slow some of the damage caused by single-use plastics. Ask yourself if what you have can be reused, and recycle when possible (did you know that only around 12% percent of what we put in the recycling bin ever gets recycled?! But that’s a story for another day…)

Finally, the best way to slow the damage that plastics cause is to simply refuse it! As consumers, we have a lot of power to show companies and businesses what we value. This #PlasticFreeJuly, take a look at what you use and what you can do without – you may be surprised! Help to create the demand for eco-friendly products.

Here are some suggestions for reducing and removing plastics that you may not have thought of immediately (all links are for more info, not to support any one brand over another.):

  1. Toiletries – From shampoo bottles, to your toothbrush,  to those poofy scrubber loofas, we use a lot of plastic in the bathroom! Try out a shampoo bar (kinda like a bar of soap, but it’s for your hair!), bamboo toothbrush, and use a reusable washcloth for your body soap. There’s even eco-friendly deodorant and shaving equipment!
  2. Clothing & Clothing Stores –  A lot of our clothing, especially synthetic fibers, have plastics in them! By looking for eco-friendly clothing (wool, cotton, bamboo, and other all natural materials), you can reduce your plastic consumption. At the check-out line, refuse the hanger! Let the store reuse it for future garments and use metal or wooden ones at home.
  3. Eating Local – Farm stands, butcher shops, and delis are great for providing you food without all of that crazy plastic! You can take your own bags or containers and fill ‘em on up! Not only are you reducing plastic waste, but you are also reducing the fuels it takes to transport and preserve foods that travel a long distance.
  4. Food Packaging – We produce a lot of plastic waste with our favorite foods! Our coffee comes in k-cups (find reusable k-cups here!), we store our leftovers in plastic wrap, baggies, or plastic containers (but we can use beeswax wraps or glass containers instead!). Search for a local bulk food store – they allow you to bring your own reusable container to fill up.
  5. Garbage cans – It may seem strange at first, but did you know that you can get reusable garbage bags? Get a couple of them and wash them in between uses. You’ll be surprised at how much money you can save by not having to get plastic garbage bags! Compost food waste and recycle more to use less garbage bags overall.
  6. Gardening Equipment – As a nature lover and gardener, I buy a LOT of plants. Plants are great, but you know what isn’t? Those black, green, or reddish plastic pots. Ask your garden center if they recycle or reuse the nursery pots, repurpose them for next year’s seed-starting, or look for compostable gardening pots that can go right in the ground!
  7. Convenient Eating – Plastic forks, knives, spoons and cups are great for parties and picnics when you want easy clean-up, but come at the cost of the planet’s health. Instead, try biodegradable or even edible utensils if you don’t want the hassle of washing reusable dishes.
  8. Stylish Accessories – Did you know that there are some really classy looking watches and sunglasses made out of wood?! 
  9. Writing Tools – I don’t use, or really even see, wooden pencils anymore. I like the mechanical pencils and pens, but those are often made out of plastic! Fortunately, you can get pens and mechanical pencils made out of recycled water bottles, 
  10. The Laundry Room – My laundry basket, which is definitely used over and over and over again, is plastic, much to my chagrin, but you can get eco-friendly ones made out of up-cycled fishing rope, fabric, or even wood! My favorite laundry detergent doesn’t come in a plastic container, but a thick cardboard that I can just recycle once finished. By line drying my clothes, I am reducing the energy I use, but I have clothespins that have plastic on the tips that act as a slip-resistant material. Wooden ones are definitely the way to go.

Think you can do it or want to challenge yourself to remove plastic from your life this July? It doesn’t even have to be the month of July! Reducing plastic consumption in our lives is great, no matter how small or simple you start. Take the challenge and commit yourself to reducing plastic from your life! Also, check out my store to see some eco-friendly products perfect for the nature-lover in your life!

Let me know in the comments below how you are going #PlasticFree and encourage others on their journey to less waste.

Using soap bars is a great way to reduce plastic waste.

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