Go Plastic Free for July and Beyond

 Photo by  Randy Fath  on  Unsplash

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

Have you noticed more reusable bags, straws, and other items in your local stores and restaurants lately? The anti-plastic movement has been steadily gaining momentum and is getting an extra boost this month because it’s #PlasticFreeJuly—a challenge to cut down on plastic use. 

The Plastic Free July Foundation’s mission is to build a global movement that dramatically reduces plastic use and improves recycling. Their vision is a world without plastic waste - something we can definitely get behind! So far, over 2 million people from 159 countries are choosing to be part of the annual Plastic Free July challenge. We'll share some tips here to help you reduce your plastic use - and hopefully you can continue to adopt these new habits beyond the month of July.

  1. Avoid plastic bags: Remembering to bring a reusable bag (whether canvas or some other durable, reusable material) can be a tricky habit to learn, but it's probably the one with the most impact on the environment. The average American throws away about 10 single-use plastic bags per week. Imagine the drastic drop in plastic pollution if we simply brought our own bags. We've already seen that efforts to reduce plastic bags are working and limiting plastic pollution in oceans around the UK - let's make the same progress in the US. 
  2. Refuse plastic straws - The issue of plastic straw pollution has been getting a lot of attention lately - as it should. Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day (GetGreenNow). It takes up to 200 years for plastic straws to decompose, and even when they do, they do not naturally recycle into new organic molecules (biodegrade), they simply break down into smaller plastic molecules and release harmful chemicals into the natural environment. Clearly this is a big problem, and recycling alone is not going to solve it. We must all do our part to refuse plastic straws. Instead, purchase a reusable straw (stainless steel straws are great), and bring it along with you in your bag so you're always prepared.  
  3. Buy an iced coffee mug - We get it. It's the summertime, it's hot out, and you're craving a refreshing iced beverage in the morning to start your day and also keep you cool. While it's easy to pick up an iced coffee from your favorite local coffee shop, you may be doing more harm than good if you're using their plastic cups and straws. Even if you're recycling those containers, you can't guarantee they will actually end up in a recycling facility. Due to the recent changes in the recycling industry, many facilities are at capacity in the US and are instead diverting recyclables to landfills. You can be a part of the solution by simply bringing your own reusable iced coffee mug
  4. Choose a non-PVC yoga mat - Most common yoga mats are made from PVC, a plastic that is not recyclable and is made of chemicals that are toxic to your health and the environment. So why would you practice on a plastic yoga mat while you are working on your personal health and wellbeing? Instead, opt for a natural rubber or another sustainable material. Check out our list of eco-friendly yoga mats
  5. Buy loose fruits and veggies, not packaged - Shopping for wholesome, organic fruits and vegetables? Don't counteract that good deed by buying produce packaged in plastic and adding to the pollution problem. Buy loose fruits and vegetables. To take it a step further, avoid using the traditional plastic grocery bags and bring a natural fiber-based produce bag with you to the grocery store. There are some great options for durable, reusable cotton produce bags. Wondering how to store your produce after you bring it home? These beeswax wraps offer an eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap and bags. 

In a world overwhelmed by plastic, every single effort to reduce or eliminate your personal plastic usage makes a difference. Do you have other ways you're going plastic free? Share them in the comments below.