It is estimated that in the year 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean will outnumber the amount of fish. If you’ve seen photos of our ocean’s huge gyres – massive natural currents that have now picked up tons and tons of plastic – you can begin to picture the enormous multitude of pollution flowing throughout our most precious bodies of water.
These plastics endanger wildlife and harm the ocean we depend on to maintain a healthy global ecosystem and balance carbon dioxide levels. On top of this, plastic isn’t only polluting our oceans – it’s found on land as well as in our streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds.
Why is there so much plastic polluting our environment? Because we use a lot of it. For instance, worldwide we go through over 10 billion plastic bags per week (the large majority of which are not recycled). Plastic bottles, straws, cigarette butts, plastic cutlery, coffee cups, food packaging, and more litter our lives daily.
That’s why July is such an important month: it’s Plastic Free July. This initiative challenges us all to refuse single-use plastics for either part of or for the entire month, using 100% reusable for a committed period of time. While this challenge may seem like a difficult one (recognizing all the plastic we use is quite daunting!), it’s completely doable, and may even create some habits we stick to. What are some small steps we can take to start on this journey?
- Store your leftovers without plastic. Use glass mason jars or other glass containers, mixing bowls (topped with a plate), a ceramic crock, or a stainless steel container to store last night’s leftovers. Plus, they might be a safer alternative – some plastic containers could contain BPA, which is said to be dangerous to your health.
- Green your grocery shopping. It goes without saying that this month will be the month you may commit to using that reusable bag during each grocery trip. But what about those other plastics you end up grabbing – produce bags, disposable containers for bulk beans and grains, packaging around crackers and cereal… the list goes on and on. This month, stuff your bag with reusable glass containers and reusable produce bags to prioritize plastic-free.
- Make your own cleaning products – it’s easy! Nearly all cleaning products (think: Lysol, Clorox wipes, Tide, etc.) come surrounded by plastic. The best way to get around this, therefore, is to make your own cleaners (it might save you money, too!). For all-purpose cleaner, fill an old bottle with 1 parts vinegar to 3 parts water. For cleaning the dishes, add 4 tablespoons of baking soda to hot water and scrub. If you have a unique cleaning need, look online for tips and homemade cleaner recipes… they’re everywhere!
- Hoard reusable cups. Invest in a few necessary reusables for this month: a water bottle and a coffee/tea cup. Yes, it’s convenient to stop by a coffee shop and grab a to-go cup, but one extra minute before leaving the house to grab your coffee cup can save some serious resources and pollution.
- Gain happiness from experiences, not things. While purchases come in plastic, experiences do not. Instead of shopping during the weekend, take the time to travel, head to the beach, hike outside, or head over to an eco-friendly restaurant. The opportunities are endless – particularly in the summer – to enjoy the great outdoors plastic-free.
How will you go #PlasticFree this month? Let us know your best tips!