Plastic Free July

The global movement, #PlasticFreeJuly is making an impact on consumers and businesses alike in an attempt to curve the amount of plastic entering the landfill. This may seem like a daunting and difficult challenge to undertake, but I guarantee that 1 – it is easier then you think and 2- you’ll feel good about decreasing your impact on the natural environment. At the very least, even if you don’t ‘feel good’ or think its easy, it will provide you with a better idea of how much plastic and waste you generate in a day, week or month and how to make better choices as you go through the rest of the year and your life.

First thing about this challenge, is that you can choose your commitment level. Perhaps you’re mostly plastic free as is, then bigger commitments may be in order. But maybe avoiding plastic is impossible for you due to your lifestyle, job, etc, but you still want to curb your impact in some way. In this case, you can just choose small victories to accomplish for the month, such as no straws or go big and change all plastic reliant habits. Whatever level you feel comfortable with, you will still be making a change and assisting in decreasing your impact.

Further, the nice thing about plastic free July is that there are LOTS of reusable, plastic free, options out there that make this challenge a lot easier then it would have been in any other decade. Consumers, as a whole, are more conscious about the products that they buy and realize their ‘buying power’ over the market. There are 5 essential products you need before you make the commitment to ease in the transition (in our opinion). They are:

  1. Reusable Water Bottle
  2. Reusable Coffee Cup/Mug
  3. Reusable, preferably metal, Straw
  4. Plastic free containers for food
  5. Reusable bag

By having these 5 things on hand, at all times, the plastic free lifestyle becomes much simpler. Although these products can make it easier, you will still be faced with decisions that could hinder your commitment to #PlasticFreeJuly. For instance, when you go to ‘opt out’ of the conventional coffee cup at the local coffee joint but they refuse to take your reusable coffee mug do to public health complications etc. So you are forced to make a decision – will it be the non-recyclable coffee cup and plastic lid or will you have to go without coffee? It is small things like this that you must work around and and accept that you just might not get your regular caffeine intake that day. This will be your largest and most frustrating learning curve, but its for the better of the environment, right? Plus, you have the choice to take it as far as you want so the decision is in your hands at all times.

Most of the plastic issues you will encounter are a direct result from the food industry. All foods, even produce, can come in plastic packaging. The grocery store is where plastic free July will frustrate you and temp you to give up. Plastic at the grocery store is everywhere and I guarantee it will open your eyes to how much food packaging there is out there for items that do not even require it (i.e. produce). I try to stick to the bulk foods section, bring my own reusable bags and jars and simply will opt for other waste free options for products that vary by brand, style etc.

All in all, plastic free July is a commitment, no matter how big or small, that everyone should attempt to take – even if you don’t stick to it. The movement brings a strong sense of community and acknowledgement to the excessive waste we as consumers generate daily. With a heightened sense of responsibility for the natural environment, consumers across the globe are making the plastic free change – will you join us for Plastic Free July?

http://www.plasticfreejuly.org/