Can you live a month without plastic? July is plastic free challenge month. Originating in Australia, Plastic-Free July is a movement that encourages people around the world to reduce their single-use plastic waste for a day, a week, or the entire month of July.
Take a moment to look around. What do you notice? Plastic is everywhere! We produce about 350 million metric tons each year, but only 14% is recycled, and only 2% is efficiently recycled. The rest is either buried in the ground or thrown into the oceans, where we can’t easily see it but there is a major impact on marine life and water quality. Currently, billions of pieces of plastic float in our seas, including plastic bags, food packaging, and rope, infiltrating our ecosystems. One plastic bottle can take 450 years to degrade.
It’s time to rethink the way we use plastic. Our goal during plastic-free July is to avoid and eliminate disposable plastic. Here are some ways you can get started:
- Avoid single-use and disposable plastics like grocery bags, plastic wrap, and plastic bottles.
- Use a refillable water bottle.
- Say ‘no’ to plastic cutlery, straws, and take-out containers. When ordering at a restaurant, make it clear you don’t need plastic cutlery, and always have a reusable cutlery kit in your bag or car.
- Recognize microplastics in disguise; many cosmetics and beauty products contain scrubs, which are small plastic beads.
- Try to avoid plastics while shopping; choose the glass jar of mayonnaise instead of plastic, the larger bottle of fruit juice instead of the individual 24-pack, the ice cream in a cardboard box instead of plastic, etc.
You get the idea. We must pay attention to our decisions and gradually change our habits. Be aware the actions you take today affect the actions of those close to you. Learn more about the Plastic Free July challenge here.
Produced by Aline Bloch, owner of Aline’s Cardboard and Out of the Box Eco-Store, and a Central Park resident.