Hello and welcome to July! While most of what we expect from July is not happening this year there is still one social media holiday event we can still take part in and that is Plastic Free July! But with the world crumbling down around us and PPE become a vital part of our daily experience is this even possible? I don’t know. Neither do the founders of the Plastic Free July movement but as they reiterate, all you can do is try! I’ve said it before but you can’t fail at Plastic Free July so let’s look at some ways you can reduce your plastic use and overall environmental footprint even in the dumpster fire that is 2020.
Masks are a new necessity to leaving your house. The situation in your area may differ as to when you need to wear a mask but having one with you at all times, whether or not you need to wear it is a good plan. If you only have access to disposable masks all you can do is ensure that it is disposed properly. I don’t know what it is about single use masks that make people want to throw them in the ocean, but it is happening with extreme frequency. I see them on my runs constantly even with garbage bins readily available. Regardless of your mask type, keep it in in a Ziploc when you don’t need it and then if you’re done with it put it back in the Ziploc if there is nowhere to dispose of it. Then you can safely throw it out at home. If you have a reusable one it can sit in the bag until you wash it (and the Ziploc!) before its next use.
If you are like me and hopeless with a sewing machine there are a gazillion places you can buy masks now. I would suggest doing some research and buying one from somewhere that donates their profits or other masks to people in need but that’s not always possible. If you need a mask before the one you order arrives (chances are high since shipping times are just random guesses these days!) there are ways you can make one without sewing.
I’ve mentioned fast fashion before but as your day to day life changes so may your wardrobe needs. One thing I did while I was at home for 7 years-no wait 11 weeks- was rotate some of my clothes. My t shirts, tanks, even underwear I piled up and worked through the pile before wearing an item again. This helps with general wear and tear and also subconsciously helps you decide what clothing you don’t like anymore and can be removed from your closet. Donations are hard if not impossible right now so if you don’t have a big closet or storage space to store unwanted clothes while you wait, try repurposing them as dust rags or masks ad bags! (see the mask link above again!! 😍). Paying attention to the clothes you actually like and want to wear both at home and when you finally leave the house again are a great way to become a smart shopper and buy higher quality items that you actually want and will care for for years to come.
We’ve all seen the quarantine baking memes and now that the weather is finally improving gardening is becoming a super popular activity to do in the safety of your house. Both of these activities are great for an eco-friendly lifestyle but take a moment to see if there’s anything you can do to take them a step further. Look at the packaging in your ingredients and see if there’s an alternative (bulk might not be possible right now but maybe buy one large thing of flour instead of a bunch of small bags). When you’re setting up your garden see if you can find a sustainable watering option. A bonus of these popular activities is that the internet loves them so there are tons of people with examples and suggestions to help you green up any of your stay at home hobbies.
Those Pesky Items
Reusable straws, mugs and bags are not having a great year. The best you can do to eliminate some of those single use plastic items is have your alternatives ready and just ask what’s possible. My grocery store had an outside bagging area set up for a while and recently allowed cloth bags again. You can still use your own straws at places without concern and there’s potential for other items like coffee lids or java jackets that you can store in your bag and reuse. It might be a while before your shopping trip is as low in plastic as it was in 2019 but keep an eye out for the options and dispose of your single use appropriately. Be thoughtful in what you purchase and remember to look at what you are disposing of each day. How can the unavoidable plastic in your life be reduced?
Plastic is everywhere and in the new world it’s needed more than ever to keep us safe. Take this Plastic Free July to look at what has changed in your life due to the pandemic and what parts of this new life can be more sustainable. We don’t yet know what the post-Covid world will look like but its up to each of us to ensure there’s as little plastic as possible in it. Stay safe friends.