The number of times I’ve felt that gut wrenching feeling (guilt or indigestion… which ones worse though, really?) from unnecessarily purchasing a water bottle only because I forgot my reusable one at home haunts me.
Luckily for me, Plastic Free July is only one short week (and a bit) away! YES! Plastic Free July - it’s a thing if you didn’t know already… Ahhh yes, the sweet sweet serenity of doing good by the environment. Plastic Free July is an amazing program that focuses on reducing plastic usage throughout the entire month of July! Their mission as an organization is to drastically reduce the world's plastic use and improve recycling initiatives globally. STOP! Can you imagine a world without plastic?! Something that we use and wear and ahem - eat - every day without even thinking (or knowing) about it.
If you’ve never participated in Plastic Free July before, or never even heard of it, let me tell you, this shit is not easy - though it is soooo rewarding! Obviously, if you’re not already making a conscious effort to reduce your plastic waste, it can be tough to change your ways so drastically. But do not fear young grasshopper, help has arrived!!
This movement has been going on for years and is an awesome way of making people more aware, for starters, of their individual plastic consumption. So, what does it mean to go a whole month without plastic and where do you even start? Going plastic free means that you’ll be helping protect our oceans (YAY sea turtles!), avoid heavy (and smelly) landfill waste, and reduce your own personal eco-footprint. Just in the past decade education around plastic consumption has increased dramatically and there have been so many great initiatives and ideas for reducing single use plastic, so for July (and hopefully every other month following *wink*) here are a few of the easiest and most effective ways of reducing, and hopefully one day eliminating, your plastic use.
Yup, I said it, how damn simple is it to have a reusable bag when you go grocery shopping. We all eat, therefore we all grocery shop (unless SkipTheDishes rules your life…). Having a reusable bag for shopping is one of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce plastic use. BUT, buyer’s beware, if you’re going to buy a reusable bag, MAKE SURE IT’S NOT MADE OF VIRGIN PLASTIC. It seems silly to say, but it MUST be said because the number of places that are selling reusable bags made from new plastic is crazy (and ironic, am I right?). Options like canvas, muslin, linen or even 100% recycled plastics will ensure that you aren’t doubling down on your plastic waste while trying to cut it out.
PRO TIP: Check out local Vancouver fave My Bukoro for beautiful, eco-friendly options!
This one’s hella easy and I can guarantee you already have at least one of each kicking around. My best advice: find one that you LOVE - with a funny saying or great colours or just the perfect size to fit in your purse and it makes it that much easier to remember when you are jetting out the door in the morning. What’s that saying? 21 days a habit makes? So make it a priority to remember your water bottle and/or coffee mug EVERYDAY for the month of July and you’re sure to make a habit out of it!!
BTW. This also goes for coffee shops. If you meet a friend for coffee and know that you will be hanging around for a bit, make a habit out of asking for your bevvy TO STAY. It’s a strange concept, I know, but it means that much less single use plastic in your life! Yipee!
Straws are a luxury, not a necessity. Every time you order a drink make sure you say, “no straw please”, and just like that, you’re working towards reducing your waste. Plus, how freakin’ cool is it that Vancouver is the first major Canadian city to ban plastic straws, and Victoria is working its way towards no straws as well! GO WEST COAST!!
If you absolutely *must* have a straw, you can find great stainless steel or glass straws that can be stashed in your purse, cleaned and reused for the rest of time. Check out the locally owned WestCoast Refill in Victoria for a great selection, or find a plastic-free shop in your own area!
Ready for this? Throw a fork in your bag RIGHT NOW. Done? There. Now you can reduce your waste by at least 1 plastic utensil every day! See how easy that was?
If you really want to get into it you can find little foldable bamboo cutlery sets at any outdoor store, but honestly, a fork or spoon takes up little to no room in a purse and if you can say “No Thanks!” to even one plastic fork, you’re doing your bit.
These are just a few, VERY simple ways out of hundreds to help reduce your plastic consumption. Think of them as the ‘gateway drug’ of cutting out plastic - once you start to become aware of your own plastic use, you’ll be amazed how deep our dependance on plastic really runs! It can be hard at first to get into the swing of things, but, just like a diet, if you fall off the wagon, just get right back on. Remember, these are habits you have spent your entire life building, so it won’t be so easy to break them. The coolest thing is that once you’ve completed the whole month, it’ll begin to feel like a GOOD habit! Who needs plastic?? Not you!
If you’re curious about more ways of reducing your plastic waste visit the Plastic Free July website for more great information!