Have you ever thought about how much plastic you consume in a year? That is how Plastic Free July was created, it aims to challenge us to rethink our plastic use. Single use plastic bottles take up to 450 years to decompose. That single plastic bottle we throw in the trash will outlive us 4 times. This might be disturbing to think about but it is necessary to challenge ourselves in order to make a difference. The easiest way to reduce plastic pollution is to refuse, rethink, and reduce what we consume. We have compiled a list of 5 easy ways you can reduce your own plastic footprint in July and beyond.
Grocery shopping can be stressful especially if you have to bring 10-20 plastic bags home filled with your necessities. Next time you make a grocery trip, try and use reusable bags such as old gym bags you have laying around or produce bags. Remember, changing routine habits take practice! Try and keep the bags in your car so you can start taking the steps to change the plastic cycle.
2. Choose to refuse single-use cups, bring your own reusable cup or dine in. In the morning coffee can be a necessity. If you have fallen into the habit of stopping at your favorite coffee shop and getting a single-use cup aim to bring your own reusable cup from home or start the habit of making your coffee in the morning before you leave! Plastic water bottles can also at times be convenient for us. However, think back to the life cycle of the bottle and the impact it can have on our mother earth. Aim to keep a reusable water bottle with you!
3. Choose to refuse plastic straws. Today, plastic straws are chocking our ocean and effecting wild life immensely. There are multiple brands of metal reusable straws that can be purchased or simply refusing to use plastic straws when going out can make a huge impact.
4. Avoid plastic wrap and bags, store leftovers in reusable containers. If you are packing lunches, cooking meals, or storing baked goods reusable containers are perfect. They can be washed and reused again and again and do not contribute to plastic in landfills. The best part, anything can be used as a reusable container! You can use a glass jar to store vegetables or overnight oats, wrap your food in leftover fabric from a craft, or use beeswax wraps that are biodegradable and vegan. Or there are many new reusable container options you can find either online or at your local grocery store.
5. Take a plastic survey to see in what areas of your life you use the most plastic. This will help you be more mindful throughout your day and make long lasting habit changes when it comes to accepting plastic. This should not be a shameful exercise it is meant to empower you in your everyday choices (especially at your weak points).
All-in-all we are in this together. Practice makes perfect when it comes to reducing plastic in our everyday lives especially with our culture of consumerism. Plastic free July can be the start of your journey to a sustainable lifestyle just starting some of these simple switches is an excellent way to shift your mindset. Happy plastic reducing!