For the month of July, millions of people across 177 countries have pledged to cut down on the amount of plastic they use. That can be going without single-use plastic for one day, one week or the entire month. The Plastic Free July movement started in Australia in 2011 and has been growing steadily ever since. Last year more than 250 million people pledged to participate. This year however, plastic pollution has been booming during the coronavirus pandemic.
A lot of the masks people wear are laced with microplastics. Most grocery stores won’t allow customers to bring their own reusable bags (but you can bag your produce outside the store, so you can still bring your own bags) and efforts to ban plastic bags in cities across the United States have stalled. Many disposable containers and flatware are used by restaurants that are open for takeout service only.
Not all is lost, you can take care of yourself and still care for the planet. There is a lot you can do to reduce plastic waste. We spoke about some of it in 12 Sustainable Household Solutions, but we can't be reminded often enough.
Here's how to reduce plastic:
Choose an environmentally friendly mask.
Get a Ghluv Anti-Microbial Hand Protector (instead of disposable gloves)
Buy glass water bottles instead of plastic ones, or refill water in a non-plastic portable container such as stainless steel.
Bring your own shopping bags (and bag outside the store).
Get reusable produce bags for veggies and fruit and forever ditch plastic produce bags at the store.
Avoid pre-packaged foods if possible and simply buy less packaged goods overall.
Use metal or sustainably sourced bamboo straws.
Buy soap bars instead of a liquid soap pump.
Replace your plastic cotton swabs with biodegradable swabs made of bamboo.
Replace your plastic toothbrush with a bamboo biodegradable one.
Avoid plastic wrap altogether by storing leftovers in reusable containers. Try reusable and compostable beeswax wrap.
Use laundry detergent sheets aka liquidless laundry detergent (approximately a billion plastic jugs are used in North America yearly, about 700 million of them are going to landfills).
Let companies that make your favorite products know that you care about the packaging. Tweet, call, or send letters to these companies to ask them to switch to more durable, recyclable, compostable, sustainable, renewable, and/or recycled-content packaging with less fossil fuel–derived plastic.
I challenge you to try it, even if it's for one day. Or just pick ONE thing that you are going to replace not only for July but for the future. Every little step in the direction of a more sustainable lifestyle counts! Are you in? If so, let me know what you have replaced.
As a reminder, we produce more than 300 million tons of plastic every year, and 8 million tons enter our oceans each year. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the oceans. Not to mention the millions of tons that go to landfills and the microplastics in our air, soil and waterways on land, that will only end up in our bodies. It's time to do something....
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