Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. Disposable plastic has become an almost inescapable part of everyday life in many places. The popularity and improper disposal of plastic as packaging has led to phenomena like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an accumulation of plastic pollution twice the size of Texas. This marine plastic pollution endangers marine life like sea turtles and shorebirds who can mistakenly eat the plastic which is hazardous to their health.
The best way to combat plastic pollution is to avoid plastic packaging and switch to plastic free alternatives. Plastic Free July is an initiative put on by the Plastic Free Foundation that encourages people to reevaluate their relationship with plastic and find ways to eliminate plastic from their lives. Plastic has become so ubiquitous in modern life that it is very difficult to avoid. Here are some ways to make the transition to plastic free a little easier.
Image Source: Plastic Free July
- Start by thinking about your daily routine and how you use plastic throughout your day. Do you start your day with an ice coffee in a plastic cup? Does the shampoo you use come in a plastic bottle? Make a list of these plastic uses you encounter everyday.
- Go through this list and identify the things you can swap immediately. Maybe it’s using a reusable travel mug for your morning coffee or maybe it’s packing your lunch in reusable containers instead of single use plastic bags.
Image Source: Pinterest
- For other items on your list, remember to use up the items that you have now before you switch to plastic free options. It is wasteful to toss out your half used bottle of shampoo in favor of a plastic free shampoo bar, even if a shampoo bar is the sustainable option. It makes the most sense to invest in plastic free alternatives when you run out of your plastic products.
- Try to consider plastic in every part of your routine. When you are grocery shopping try to buy items that don’t require packaging like fruits and veggies, shop in bulk using reusable containers, or try to look for snacks in compostable packaging (like our kelp chips!). When shopping for clothes, bring your own reusable bag, shop second hand, and try to buy natural fabrics.
- If you do use plastic try to reuse or recycle the plastic. There are many fun and creative ways to reuse plastic packaging, check out this list. When recycling be sure to check your local recycling guidelines so that you are recycling the correct types of plastic that will be accepted.
Image Source: Country Living
- This won’t be a perfect process. Every now and then you will mess up and buy or use plastic products. That’s totally understandable! As long as you are making a conscious effort to cut plastic you are doing something amazing for the planet.
About the Author: Emma Gamble is a junior at the George Washington University majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in public policy. Emma is passionate about incorporating greater sustainability into our food systems in order to create a greener future for people and the planet. Emma enjoys sailing, kayaking, and paddle boarding.