In recent weeks, you may have come across the term ?Plastic Free July.? This is a challenge to, you guessed it, limit or completely erase your use of plastic during the month of July. It was developed in 2011 with just a few people taking part but has quickly expanded to become a worldwide phenomenon with thousands of participants.
The challenge, which you can find on the Plastic Free July website, has different ways for each person to be involved; you can focus on avoiding plastics that end up in the recycling bin, abstaining from the items that are most likely to end up in the ocean, or going completely plastic free for a day, week, or month. The point is to promote reduction of plastic, not absolute perfection.
If the challenge sounds interesting to you, you might be wondering where to start. Luckily there are many easy switches you can make in your everyday life that can help to lessen your individual impact on the environment.
Ditch the plastic bags
Everyone has to get groceries, but the plastic bags used for produce and during checkout are completely unnecessary. Some grocery stores sell reusable bags right by the registers, usually for pretty cheap, but you can always use old tote bags that you have laying around or even make your own. Pick up some reusable produce bags, like the gogoBags Mesh Produce Bags, so you can always get your favourite fruits and veggies waste free. Even when you?re not grocery shopping, try to keep some bags in your car in case you make a spur-of-the-moment trip.
Sip your beverages through reusable straws
The push for reusable straws has been making headlines lately, and for good reason. According to the National Park Service, Americans use 500 million drinking straws each day. You can help reduce that number by using stainless steel or compostable paper straws instead?the steel ones are inexpensive and will last you for years. To carry them around and keep them free from debris that might be in your purse or backpack, give them a home in the gogoBags Straw Bag, which can be used as a utensil bag and toothbrush bag as well.
Say no to bottled drinks
They may be convenient, but bottled water and soft drinks are terrible for the environment and the plastic is not easy to recycle. The easiest solution is to use a stainless steel or glass water bottle, which eliminates waste. If you must have your fizzy beverages, opt for cans in cardboard boxes or glass bottles instead?they are recycled more easily. You could even purchase a product that allows you to make your own soft drinks at home.
Buy food in bulk
Many grocery stores have bulk food sections, which are a great resource when you?re trying to reduce waste. You can get items like nuts and grains here, using reusable bags or mason jars to hold them. Some bulk sections even offer things like coffee beans and nut butters. Even better the package free stores are opening up in new neighbourhoods and becoming something of a trend. Shopping in these package-free stores are totally different, a good different experience, make sure to visit them if you are in the hood. We love The Soap Dispensary and Nada in Vancouver, and?Nu Grocery in Ottowa
These are just a few of the many ways you can cut plastic out of your life. July may almost be over, but that doesn?t mean you can?t start reducing the amount of plastic you use now. The Plastic Free July website has even more tips that will help you get started. If it?s overwhelming, just remember that every small step helps and that, even if it doesn?t seem like it, one person can make a difference.