Well? How’d ya do? How was your Plastic-Free July 2018?
It’s a difficult challenge to be completely plastic-free in our lives. But as we wrote in our last post heading into Plastic-Free July, it’s important to at least TRY to pick a plastic thing or two (or three) and banish them for the month.
Why is it important? Because plastic, particularly single-use plastic, is clogging our waste streams and landfills; because there’s a mass of plastic the size of Texas floating in the Pacific; because our coastlines and waterways are now collection points for plastic and Styrofoam litter; because in just a few decades, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans.
Several years ago we eliminated plastic sandwich bags from our lives by switching to reusable and washable StasherBags; we love these things – the set of four we bought two years ago is still in rotation for the new school year!
We also ditched plastic wrap at that time by switching to wax-infused organic cotton sheets called Khala Cloths. A pack of multiple sizes completely replaced any need for plastic wrap in our home.
Because of these environmentally safe and highly durable alternatives, we haven’t purchased plastic sandwich bags or plastic wrap in two years. PlasticFreeJuly 2016 helped us realize that we really didn’t need these things in our lives in the first place.
For PlasticFreeJuly 2018, we made a firm commitment to eliminate plastic grocery bags, plastic produce bags, and plastic straws for the month, and beyond. To do this, we switched to cloth grocery bags (and asked for paper bags if we came up short), a set of cotton mesh bags with a drawstring for produce, and home-made bamboo straws for smoothies and the coffee shop (if needed).
So after these switcheroos, how’d we do in #PlasticFreeJuly2018?
Plastic Drug Store/Convenience Store Bags: 4
Plastic Produce Bags: 5
Plastic Straws: 1
Plastic packing material from Amazon orders: 3 pieces (ugh – plastic happens)
While we didn’t quite meet our 31-day plastic-free goals, we came close and, just like two years ago, we totally came to realize that it’s very possible to eliminate these single-use items entirely.
Our Biggest Plastic-Free Challenges:
- Remembering to bring a reusable bag into “non-grocery” stores, like CVS.
- Unplanned runs for a needed produce item. Dang it, the only thing worse than The Emergency Run is forgetting the mesh produce bags for mushrooms or damp leaf lettuce or a bundle of herbs – it’s almost like you HAVE to use a plastic produce bag.
- Remembering to tell the waiter, “No straws, please.” We thought we were okay in the straw category since we make our own bamboo straws and keep some in the car; but when our teenager ordered a bubble tea during a lunch outing, the drink came with a wider straw to accommodate the tapioca balls. Oh well – I saved that straw to use as a template for some future homemade bamboo bubble tea straws.
How To Remember Your Reusable Cloth Grocery Bags
We have taken to hanging our largest cloth grocery bag on the front door knob, with the other bags and the cotton mesh produce bags inside – this helps us the most in remembering to bring them. If we got into the habit of storing them in the trunk of the car after unloading groceries, I think we’d eliminate any chance of forgetting them; this tactic would be especially helpful for those unplanned trips to the store.
Tallying up these plastic items is by no means ALL of the plastic we used this month – it’s just that we set our sights on those three categories: grocery bags, produce bags, and straws. We still bought some groceries and other items that, unfortunately, were wrapped in plastic packaging. Sometimes there are no packaging alternatives for those things we really must have; it’s a bummer, but there’s no sense beating ourselves up about it.
We are trying to be conscious of what we buy and how it is packaged AND we are trying to set good examples for our daughter. To us, that’s what PlasticFreeJuly is all about. As we continue to develop and sell our own products, we will continue our efforts to use only recyclable paper packaging.
#BuyBagsForOthers – Keep Plastic Grocery Bags Out Of Landfills
Inspired by the impressive efforts of @savannahlitterpickup (Instagram) we’ve started buying a cloth grocery bag or two at check-out and asking the cashier to use it for the next customer.
It only costs about a dollar for these bags in most grocery stores, which makes it a very affordable way to feel good and spread the plastic-free message; it’s also a great way to spark up a conversation about single-use plastic and its affects on our environment.
If that lucky customer is inspired to pay this action forward each time he or she shops, imagine how many single-use plastic grocery bags are taken out of the waste stream. If you buy a bag and pass it back, post a picture of your receipt using the hashtag #buybagsforothers on instagram. Lets build some momentum!
Check out the developing website of @savannahlitterpickup here . She is a biologist and university professor and frequently provides illuminating data and peer academic papers about plastic litter’s impact on the Earth.
Plastic-Free July and Litter Pick-Ups – #ProtectWhereYouPlay
Here in southeastern Georgia, we have a wonderful, grassroots group, Tybee Clean Beach, which is spearheading weekly local beach cleanups with a growing number of volunteers. Check out their website and poke around a bit. For such a small stretch of coast, the amount of plastic litter collected weekly is profoundly disturbing. Volunteers dutifully sort and record the litter at the end of each clean-up.
When we’re out for our walks and litter pick-ups, we use these Ettore Grabbers and some old buckets to collect trash and cigarette butts. We’ve tested a few different grabber brands and models and we agree that Ettore is favored: lightweight, durable, easy on the wrist and, best of all, pretty inexpensive!
Plastic-Free July Can Also Mean Supporting Good Causes
We are now members of a local organization called Clean Coast and we look forward to going on expeditions with this group to clean up the barrier islands off the coast of Georgia. Clean Coast is a Savannah based 501c(3) non-profit volunteer organization focused on monthly cleanups of Georgia’s local barrier island beaches, marshes, and waterways. Check out the “Plastic Bags” link or the “Bottled Water” link on their website: easy-peasy, very readable slide shows with loads of data.
Clean Coast holds at least one cleanup per month and removes an average of 800 – 1000 pounds of debris per cleanup.
Are there organizations like these in your area?
Introducing Our Graphic T-Shirt Brand – “We Can Beat Plastic Pollution!”
Dovetailing with our recent deep-dive into local beach clean-ups, we have released a new graphic t-shirt brand on Amazon called “We Can Beat Plastic Pollution.” As of this writing, we have four t-shirt designs available and will be releasing more in the weeks ahead.
The designs will showcase themes in support of environmental conservation and preservation. If these interests are your interests, take a peek at our tees! We have sizes and cuts for men, women and children.
For the month of August, $2.00 from each sale goes to an ocean-focused non-profit!
As with all KCHD products, a percentage of profits goes to environmentally conscious organizations and charities each month. Take a look at who we’ve supported on our Giving Back page.
Join the “I Love Plastic-Free Oceans” Facebook Group
I Love Plastic-Free Oceans is a group for all people who love the ocean and want to share ideas on how to keep our oceans, and our planet, plastic-free for future generations.
We have positive and open discussions about all things plastic-free oceans. This very active group promotes organizations that are working on cleaning up our oceans, local volunteer opportunities, and plastic-free products that you can use instead of products that are harmful to the ocean and marine life.
Most importantly, we want you to know that everyone can help! Just like the ripples caused by a pebble dropped into water, every small action you take can spread and make a positive impact. You don’t need a lot of time or money, just a LOVE for the ocean and a desire to share and learn.
“I Love Plastic-Free Oceans” is a private Facebook group, but anyone who would like to join us is welcome! We hope you’ll request to be added to the group and join the conversation!
Whew! Well, that’s a wrap – non-plastic, of course, – to #PlasticFreeJuly2018! We hope you felt some sense of accomplishment as a result of your efforts; we also hope that you are finding it easy to extend these efforts into August and beyond.