Plastic Free July is here! This movement encourages people to reduce their use of disposable plastic for the primary purpose of having a cleaner, more sustainable environment. It provides an opportunity for people to have a conversation about plastic pollution and what we as a community can and must do to mitigate the negative effects of plastic in our natural environments, especially our oceans. Since its invention in 1862, plastic has become ubiquitous. It is simply everywhere. We are conveniently surrounded by it, and research shows that microparticles of plastic have been detected in our seafood.
Annie Leonard of Greenpeace USA once said that “there is no such thing as ‘away’,” and that every plastic we throw away goes somewhere. Many of us like to think that we get rid of plastic items by disposing of them in the trash. However, plastic materials last for hundreds of years. Every plastic item you have ever owned and thrown away, such as plastic toothbrushes and toys, is still out there.
Saying no to single-use plastic in favor of using reusable items, such as bamboo utensils and reusable water bottles, can go a long way if enough of us do it. Below is a list of reusable items that can help us cut back our plastic wastes:
Reusable self-care products. Self-care is important for our overall health. The problem is that many cosmetic and self-care product companies produce a large amount of plastic packaging that is usually non-recyclable. One way to integrate the health of our planet with our own is by using reusable self-care products. Some products that can be bought as reusable items are safety razors, cotton swabs, and cotton face rounds. Another way to reduce plastic in our self-care products is to use glass jars to refill items like lotion, shampoo, and conditioner at zero-waste refill stores, such as Eco Now.
Silicone products. Straws, baking sheets, cups, and sandwich bags are some products that can be made from silicone. Silicone is more durable and recyclable compared to plastic. Unlike plastic, silicone is oven safe and does not degrade into microparticles in the ocean.
Empty glass jars of pickles, peanut butter, etc. In 2022 we are celebrating the International Year of Glass. There are many ways to reuse or repurpose glass jars. One way to reduce plastic is to use empty glass jars of pickles and other jarred items as containers, especially in cases where you would normally use plastic. Repurposing glass jars is also a good way to do DIY activities and show your creative side!
Single-use plastic items are convenient, but we must consider how they affect our natural habitats once we dispose of them. As a community, we need to think and talk about how each of us can reduce our use of plastic for the sake of future generations. For this month, we’d like to challenge you to reduce your impact by choosing one disposable item that you can replace with reusable material. This can be grocery bags, straws, or water bottles made of single-use plastic. After that, try to challenge yourself and go a step further by substituting more reusable items for plastic ones. Finally, choosing to use less is always the best option, look around your home and reuse, repurpose and choose less. As the saying goes, be part of the solution, not the problem.