This month- there is a world wide movement- Plastic Free July with the goal of raising awareness and challenging people to do something about single use plastic. Single use plastic is plastic that is essentially used one time and then discarded. Straws, coffee cups, lids, take out containers. Basically anything that is convenient, quick and saves time.
It’s not that plastics are inherently evil. The Plastic Free July organization has a really interesting perspective on plastics- “Plastics were developed in the early 20th century and were environmentally important, replacing ivory, tortoiseshell, horn and other plant and animal products. By the 1960’s plastic had gone from being used in durable items to widespread use including disposable plastic packaging.” When you think about all the plant and animal products that have been saved you realize plastics have a place in our society and often especially with medicine and agriculture the benefits of plastic can make life better.
The problem is we have too much of a good thing. We are simply using way, way, way too much plastic- it’s everywhere and it’s created a host of problems. “Everypiece of plastic ever produced still remains somewhere in the earth today. In the last half of the 20th century over 1 billion tons of plastic was produced. This figure has already doubled in the first ten years of this century.” One of the biggest culprits is single use plastic, in the USA over 500 million straws are used daily.
And while many people recycle household plastic, single use plastic is the least likely to be recycled. We tend to use these plastic products at events, concerts and while traveling. Often our recycled plastic is sent to a developing country where we can’t see it but it’s still there. There may also be health issues related to plastic especially with food stored or cooked in plastic. And finally just the trash that is filling our land and oceans. Plastic pollution in the oceans affects all sea creatures. According to the Ocean Conservancy the biggest source of ocean pollution is plastic beverage containers. They break down into smaller and smaller pieces and are often mistaken for food by hungry animals.
The best way to get started on your Plastic Free Journey is to visit Plastic Free July and take the Pesky Plastic Quiz. Answering the questions will give you a great starting place to make a change in your life. I guarantee once you get started you won’t look back.
Resources to get you started-
Another resource from Treading My Own Path has Enough is Enough- 18 Ideas for Embracing a Life With Less Waste and Less Stuff. She also writes great blogs with practical tips, her latest is How to Buy Milk, Yogurt and Cheese Without Plastic.
Follow Australian writer and activist Anita Horn on Facebook, her page is devoted to Plastic Free Produce. It’s an easy one to start because many of our fruits and vegetables are beautifully packaged by Mother Nature.