The beach is my therapy. Just the smell of it I feel relaxed and calm. The blue hue makes me smile and as I sink my toes in the sand and the tide rolls in I feel the cool water lap at my feet. I look down and there is a plastic straw poking out of the sand. I look around and notice plastic bottles scattered around the beach. I suddenly felt a wave of sadness overcome me. This was a secluded Australian beach and people didn’t even have the decency to clean up after visiting. There was a rubbish bin just at the beach entrance. Unfortunately, this is what happens to the single-use plastic we use every single day.
I decided to join Plastic Free July after physically seeing plastic in the city streets, beaches, and floating in the oceans throughout my travels. After living in Australia for three years I had already adopted the habit of a reusable drink cup, reusable bottle, and stainless steel straw thanks to watching War on Waste Australia.
When I moved home to the USA I could not believe the amount of plastic people waste. Its astonishing. Plastic bags, bottles, straws, coffee cups, casings, food covers and storage – everywhere is covered in plastic and even some restaurants use plastic cutlery and dish wear to sit in, I couldn’t believe it.
Day 1: I went to the shops with my mom and showed her how we could reduce our plastic use at home. Below are a just a few small changes that you can make to your daily routine that can make a huge difference:
Did you know 50% of our plastic is used once and thrown away? (Ecowatch) Take a moment to think about how many times you use something that is covered in plastic.
Day 4: 4th of July – Unsuccessful 🙁 With celebrating with friends, there were solo cups everywhere. Drinks were served in plastic cups so the glass wouldn’t break. Instead of beating myself up I knew it wasn’t going to happen overnight but I looked at it as room for growth.
Day 6: While going out for drinks with friends I made sure to ask for no straw in my glass. They forgot – it really is just a force of habit but I politely took it out and said I’m trying to not use plastic straws anymore. So my second drink had no straw (yay!)
Day 7: If my family took on this challenge like me, they would fail. We had a barbecue with paper plates, but plastic utensils, plastic water bottles, and plastic bags everywhere. Next time we have a get together, I’m hoping to show them some ways they can reduce the plastic:
Day 9: I met with some work friends at Starbucks. Starbucks announced it will be eliminating straws so I was very happy about this recent news and felt like we had hit a great milestone. However we were offered a sample of a new drink and it was served in a tiny cup with a shortened straw. I politely declined, …baby steps Starbucks.
Day 10: I cooked vegetables from fresh ingredients but had to unwrap chicken in plastic and styrofoam. I thought, how could I change the way my meat is packaged going forward?
The Solution? Buy fresh from the butcher because they wrap it in paper and you can transfer to a freezer safe bag.
Day 11: While out for coffee, I brought my cup and I ended up receiving a discount! Walked to another cafe and ordered a smoothie bowl and it came in a paper bowl. That was great but they had no alternative cutlery so…
The solution from this experience? Bring your own cutlery to restaurants so that you can avoid plastic utensils.
I’ve realised I’m not alone is this challenge. I do see some people trying to make changes but our society has made plastic so readily available, its a difficult journey.
I’ve learned that it takes plastic 500-1000 years to degrade but even then plastic particles are still found and end up in our foods, oceans, and animals stomachs (Ecowatch)
Day 14: Dinner and Shopping with my dad. We dined at Kona Grill. I requested a straw-less glass and he said the restaurant has joined the no plastic straws movement. I was so happy to hear this news! (Note: I found out they do still keep them on hand if some guests request one.) I then went shopping at Lush and learned they used paper bags, recycled paper receipts, and have implemented a program to reduce their plastic use and recycling efforts. Stay tuned for more info on this in my next blog post 🙂
So far I’ve learned that this is definitely a bumpy road ahead to say the least, but I’m already incorporating some great habits in my everyday life and I’m looking forward to what these next two weeks bring me.
Interested in joining me in the challenge? Come on, I dare you 😉