Millions of people around the world are participating in “Plastic Free July” that starts on Friday, July 1. You might say “I can’t go plastic free” and I would answer “Nor can I!” but the idea behind Plastic Free July is to move us all in the right direction in reducing our use of plastic, especially single-use plastics.
Why? What is so bad about plastic? Well, first there is the carbon footprint of manufacturing plastic; hint: it comes from fossil fuels! And, unfortunately despite what you might have heard, most (around 90%) of the plastic we use either isn’t recycled or can’t be recycled, and even when it can be recycled, remember that recycling itself exacts a carbon footprint, not to mention its impact on the poor and marginalized. Then there is the fact that plastic pollution is a huge problem on land, in the sea, our water and food supply, and in our bodies!
So how does one go about reducing their use of plastic? Start by taking an accounting of the plastic in your home and office. Walk through each room of your house and note what items are made of or housed in plastic. Then start reducing those plastics, especially single-use plastics, one by one.
Ideas for reducing plastic usage:
- Refuse to purchase single-use water bottles. Carry a metal or glass water bottle with you when you are away from home.
- Say no to straws. (Seattle has banned plastic straws, but remember to stay vigilant when traveling elsewhere.)
- Stop using paper cups (usually lined and topped with plastic) at your coffee shop. Bring your own steel coffee mug to your espresso stand and to work.
- Bring metal flatware and reusable dishes to work so you can avoid single-use plastics.
- When purchasing food, look for items in glass bottles, cardboard boxes, or metal cans (those not lined in BPA plastic). As much as possible, purchase bulk items in reusable containers and store them in glass jars.
- Purchase cloth shopping and produce bags. We use organiccottonmart.com.
- Get rid of vinyl shower curtains, pillow, and mattress covers and replace them with natural fabrics.
- Consider replacing your foam mattress with a natural cotton mattress.
- Replace plastic food storage containers with glass (even with plastic lids, they are better), metal tins, or reusable alternatives to plastic wrap such as etee (shopetee.com).
- Purchase cosmetics and other bathroom supplies in non-plastic containers. Buy bar soap rather than liquid soap in plastic bottles.
- When purchasing appliances look for ones that have minimal or no plastic.
- Download the Detox Me app on your phone to get more suggestions on reducing your exposure to plastics and other toxins. See tinyurl.com/lsia-detox-me.
You can download a Plastic Free July calendar with ideas for each day of the month from at tinyurl.com/plastic-free-cal-2022. And check out the plasticfreejuly.org website to learn more about plastic, plastic pollution, and lots of additional ideas on how to reduce your use of plastic!
Working together, we can help take care of our common home.