Plastic-Free July

Originally published on July 3, 2018

Welcome to Plastic-Free July!!

The goal of Plastic-Free July is to encourage people to be aware of their plastic consumption.

The world's struggle with plastic, and single-use items has not been around for that long, but we're already seeing devastating environmental impacts from it. Our great-grandparents didn't use plastic cups, plates, straws, plastic wrap, ziploc bags, etc. They used reusable resources: glass, tin, cans, wood, etc. Although some convenience is helpful (not having to cook every meal from scratch), we are learning that total convenience is dangerous!

Not only is plastic-use having long-term negative impacts on our environment and eco-systems but also on our bodies!

"Plastic is the most prevalent type of marine debris found in our ocean and Great Lakes. Plastic debris can come in all shapes and sizes, but those that are less than five millimeters in length (or about the size of a sesame seed) are called “microplastics.” Aquatic life and birds can mistake microplastics for food. In 2015, the U.S. banned the use of microbeads but microplastics are still a huge problem." - https://oceanservice.noaa.gov

Don't even get me started on the plastic in our clothes! Fast Fashion is killing us slowly with non-sustainable sources.

This is overwhelming! Instead of feeling like you're stuck under a pile of plastic, you can make small lifestyle changes that will positively impact yourself, and the world around you! 

You can do something: Plastic-Free July is a fun way to start because you're going to be surrounded by people all doing the same thing. You've done a diet, or a cleanse before, you know that you can do anything for 14-30 days.

You can sign up to join Plastic Free July online at http://www.plasticfreejuly.org/register.html and they will e-mail you tips!

You can invite your friends/significant other to do it with you so that you're not alone!

You can make simple swaps to help you in your month of avoiding single-use plastics.

This is a challenge, not a competition! Be gentle with yourself and only do what you can do. Take in mind that ANYTHING you do that is positive for the environment is positive! No matter how small or big you choose to dedicate your changes for the month of July, or after, anything small makes a big impact!

For this challenge --> You're doing your best to avoid plastic where you can, so avoiding plastic-wrapped groceries and opting for loose produce and cardboard boxed items instead and trying to deny the plastic to-go items stores so enthusiastically want to give you!

Simple Swaps

  1. Plastic Water Bottles --> Reusable Water Bottles. I own a Hydro Flask and a Swell and I love them both. 

  2. Plastic Grocery Bags --> Reusable Bags (canvas or cloth). I have picked up canvas bags over the years and I have bought a few ecobags.

  3. Plastic Straws --> NO STRAW or glass straw, bamboo or metal straw. I buy metal straws from BYO Long Beach and KleanKanteen.

  4. Plastic Utensils --> Carry a set of utensils from your house with you! Wrap them in a dish towel, bandana, or kitchen towel and put them in your purse. You can buy a set of bamboo utensils if you want from Wild Minimalist or BYO Long Beach. 

  5. Plastic Napkins --> Carry a bandana, kitchen towel, or dish towel. You can turn old fabric into napkins with simple sewing too!

  6. Styrofoam/Plastic To Go Container --> Carry a tupperware or re-usable container in your purse, or keep it in your car. If you already own plastic tupperware, use it until it runs out. If you want to invest, I suggest ONYX or Life Without Plastic 

  7. Plastic Cups --> A cup from home, a mason jar, a reusable cup.

  8. Wax-lined Coffee Cups --> A mug from your house, a tumbler or insulated to-go cup. I am a ridiculous person (as a barista) and between buying/people giving me cups for birthdays, I happen to own a Joco, a Byta, a Klean Kanteen and a Keep Cup. I would suggest the Klean Kanteen or Hydro Flask. 

  9. Plastic Wrapped Toilet Paper --> Look for toilet paper wrapped in paper, it can be found at almost every store! You can be extreme and opt for a bidet or less extreme and buy from WhoGivesACrap 

  10. Plastic wrapped Tampons/Pads --> A menstrual cup is the most sustainable option but if a cup isn't for you, look for organic tampons & pads from people like Lola, Cora or Sustain. Thinx also makes period underwear!

Check out the "living plastic free" tab on Plastic-Free July's Website for more ideas!

Remember that you are not alone! Living a low-waste life can be awkward at times but that's anything you do that isn't what the mainstream is doing.

Pick your individual challenge for July --> It could just be that you're going to say no to straws for all of July or it could be no plastic at all!

Pick what you're going to do for #plasticfreejuly and go for it! Let me know what you've decided to do on my Instagram @emilyy.jeann and if you have any questions, I'm happy to help!

Good luck! The Earth is on your side

Emily McCollister