In celebration of Plastic Free July, we wanted to take the opportunity to talk about the many reasons there are for cutting plastic out of our lives. Plastic Free July is a global movement to help raise awareness about single-use plastics and to allow millions of people to play a part in the solution to the plastic problem. The goal of Plastic Free July is to get everyone across the globe to avoid disposables for one month. But since it only takes 28 days to form a habit, we want to encourage you to extend your plastic-free lifestyle far beyond a single month and simply use July as a starting point!
In the world of reducing waste, reducing plastic is a top priority. Despite this fact, more than 40 percent of plastic is used just once, and 91 percent isn’t recycled. Additionally, approximately 8 million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean annually, 236,000 tons of which are micro-plastics. Microplastics are tiny plastic particles that are nearly impossible to get rid of once leaked into the environment and/or our food supply. The amount of plastic in the oceans is set to increase tenfold by 2020. In fact, scientists predict that by mid-century, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish if we do not put a stop to our wasteful behavior.
Why should I go Plastic-Free?
In addition to being bad for the environment and harmful to wildlife, plastic is also harmful to human health. Some of the top reasons plastic is harmful include:
1. Plastic will never disappear. In fact, every bit of plastic ever made still exists. In the first 10 years of this century, the world economy produced more plastic than the entire 1900s
2. Plastic production requires a lot of water. It takes 22 gallons of water to make one pound of plastic
3. Plastic is made from oil, a nonrenewable fossil fuel that’s buried plant and animal remains from millions of years ago
4. Plastic waste that’s thrown into the ocean each year can kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures.
5. Over time, plastic breaks down into tiny particles called microplastics, and when leaked into the environment, will indirectly or directly enter our food supply.
6. Plastic contains Bisphenol-A (more commonly known as BPA), a chemical that mimics estrogen and has been scientifically shown to increase the risk for prostate cancer, breast cancer, reproductive problems, metabolic disorders, and even attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
7. Recycling plastic is better than throwing it away, but it still comes at an environmental cost, i.e. chemical recycling. Avoiding plastic altogether is a much better option
8. It’ll save you money. Yes, there is even a personal motive for going plastic-free! Just think of all of the pennies you’ll pinch each year by using a reusable water bottle instead of purchasing plastic bottles
Pretty good reasons, right? And to think that these are only some of the negative impacts associated with the plastic problem. So now that you’re motivated to kick your plastic dependency, here are a few easy ideas to help you can get started:
1. Ditch the disposable coffee cups – carry on you a reusable coffee mug or a mason jar
2. Kick the plastic water bottle habit and keep your own refillable bottle when you’re on the go
3. Bring your reusable own bag when food or clothes shopping
4. Invest in some inexpensive steel straws to keep on hand
5. Bring reusable utensils and food containers with you to work or when you’re picking up food
6. When ordering take-out, ask the restaurant not to include need utensils
7. Switch to bar soap instead of liquid soap
8. Choose personal care products in plastic-free containers, or even better, make your own home-made personal care products
9. Make your own snacks instead of buying prepackaged trail mixes, etc
10. Shop in bulk and avoid products that come in plastic packaging where possible
11. Purchase plastic-free kids and pet toys
Go Plastic Free This July
There are hundreds of easy swaps for cutting out the plastic in your world, so there really is no excuse. Single-use plastics more often than not do not make it to a landfill or are even recycled, for that matter. 32% of the 78 million tons of plastic packaging produced annually ends up in our seas. Even single-use plastics that do make it to the landfill are still harmful. Landfill liners can leak harmful pollutants into the watershed including plastics on tops of landfills. Even if cutting out plastic altogether seems impossible, reducing your personal use is still better than not taking any action at all!
Going plastic-free (or at least curbing your plastic use) is one of the ways you can play your part for the planet. Other easy things you can do to help create a more sustainable future include being more energy and water efficient at home, shopping local and organic, biking or taking public transportation to work, and choosing an energy supplier that offers eco-conscious energy solutions to power your home (like Kiwi Energy, for example).