Have you heard about Plastic Free July? This incredible initiative was started by the Plastic Free Foundation (a not-for-profit foundation) and aimed to help participants eliminate the use of all single-use plastics for an entire month. At TMS, we are passionate about producing minimal waste. Our Eco Mailers are 100% curbside recyclable and free from the plastic filler. We are thrilled to learn about this initiative!
Reducing your plastic consumption can feel overwhelming at first; once you start to look around, it feels like plastic is just about everywhere. Luckily, plastic-free options are becoming more readily available, as individuals and companies understand the need for more environmentally friendly alternatives.
While going ultimately, plastic-free is genuinely incredible; it can feel overwhelming to try to implement and eliminate all plastic usage at once. Perhaps you can learn more about single-use plastics, and each week slowly implement some alternatives? There are several ways you can participate in plastic-free July. For now, let’s look at the top four offenders in single-use plastic include: plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic bottles, to-go coffee cups. While these are the top four, they are easy to eliminate from your habits with minimal work or inconvenience. Here are some great tips to get involved in a plastic-free initiative.
When you are running errands or going grocery shopping, a great way to eliminate using plastic bags is by bringing your reusable bag. Understandably, not everywhere is accepting reusable bags during the pandemic, if that is the case opt for the paper bag rather than the plastic one. Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes, but a single plastic bag has a life expectancy of up to 1,000 years.
Single-Use Plastics for Beverages
We get it; nothing tastes better than that iced coffee on a hot summer morning. Have you honestly thought about how much plastic is being used in your daily or weekly habit? If you get an iced beverage from a takeout coffee place, your order will most likely be filled in a plastic cup, plastic lid, and plastic straw. Hello, plastic. In just the U.S. alone, one estimate suggests 500 million straws are used every day, yikes. A study published in 2019, said that an estimated 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches. Whoa! That is A LOT of plastic waste. What if you opted not to have a straw with your beverage for one week during this month? Or if that is just too much to part from, how about trying out paper straws? And if you’re feeling committed to making an impact, how about investing in a reusable straw?
Another opportunity to cut down on plastic use at your favorite to-go coffee place is to bring your reusable mug. More often than not, you will be offered a little discount (who doesn’t enjoy saving money). Understandably, this may not be an option during current times, but something to think about for the future.
Americans throw away 35 billion plastic bottles every year, insert gasp. Only about 25% of the plastic produced in the U.S. is recycled. If we recycled the other 75%, we could save 1 billion gallons of oil and 44 million cubic yards of landfill space annually. Using aluminum or glass containers is always preferable over plastic. Plastic bottles and bottle caps are the third and fourth most collected plastic trash in the Ocean Conservancy’s annual beach cleanups. So how can we solve this problem? Invest in a reusable bottle. They range from just a few bucks to some steeper prices due to all their fancy features, but hey, it’s an investment.
You may be asking yourself how you can control how the company your purchasing items from ships their product? Well, with Amazon, prime members have a say in how their product is shipped? The image below gives you step-by-step instructions on how you update your preferences to plastic-free and opting for right-sized packaging.
While plastic free July is still relatively new, plastic elimination events have already started popping up around the world. Feel free to head to their site to see a map of event locations to see if there is one being held near you. Don’t see an event being held in your area? Why not start one yourself? Hopefully, you feel more inclined to implement a few of these plastic-free tips this month and beyond if you aren’t already doing so.
“Dangers of Plastic Bags .” Envirosax. Bellouco Pty Ltd. , n.d. Web. <http://www.envirosax.com/plastic_bag_facts>.
“Direct Manufacturer of Reusable Bags.” Plastic Bag Ban Map. Factory Direct Promos, n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.
“Marine Problems: Pollution.” WWF Global. N.p.. Web. <http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/blue_planet/problems/pollution/>.
“The Ocean Trash Index.” Ocean Conservancy . N.p.. Web. 8 Mar 2013. <http://www.oceanconservancy.org/our-work/marine-debris/2012-iccdata-pdf.pdf>.
Jambeck, J., Geyer, R., Wilcox, C., Siegler, T., Perryman, M., Andrady, A., . . . Law, K. (2015). Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. Science, 347(6223), 768-771. doi:10.1126/science.126035