Talking Green: 5 tips for going plastic-free
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Plastic is present in almost every facet of daily life, from packing materials down to even the fibers in our clothing. While plastic is durable and cheap to use for many products, unfortunately, it does not degrade the way that organic materials do.
It continuously breaks down into smaller pieces until eventually it finds its way into the smallest of microorganisms and even in our Rocky Mountain rainwater. Most plastics are made using fossil fuels and harmful chemicals, which produce emissions contributing to climate change and can be harmful to both human and wildlife health.
In 2019, 250 million people joined the Plastic Free July challenge. Plastic Free July is a global movement that strives to reduce the use of single-use plastics through education and behavioral shifts. Those who joined the 2019 challenge each reduced their waste by approximately 50 pounds per year — or roughly the weight of 60 freight trains. Consider joining the challenge and use the tips below to get started. While reducing the use of single-use plastics is a great step, you can go further than that by reducing plastics in all areas of your life:
- Be prepared. By coming prepared to situations where you might have to use single-use plastics, you can avoid their use altogether by either refusing them or having a reusable alternative. Think about creating a small kit that you keep in your car, purse or backpack that might contain a bamboo straw, stainless steel water bottle and coffee cup, reusable utensils or a small takeout container.
- Rethink purchasing habits. Before you buy something brand new or order it online, ask yourself “Is this something that I really need? Could I buy this as a used item instead? Is there a more sustainable option with less packaging or plastic material?”
- Repurpose all of those old pasta sauce, salsa and jam jars. These jars are great to use for storing leftovers, packing a snack for lunch or storing bulk food items, but don’t go throwing out all of your old storage containers, yet. This creates unnecessary waste. Instead, use the items until the end of their lives.
- Consider a washing machine microfiber filter or mesh bag to wash clothes that contain synthetic fibers. These can reduce microplastic pollution that is shed by our clothes.
- Make your own. Many of our most commonly used household items can be made at home, resulting in less packaging and plastic material, like toothpaste, dishwashing detergent, soap, lip balm, etc.
Being conscious about the products we purchase and our use patterns can have a profound effect on the waste that we create in our daily lives. Try a Plastic Free July and see where you can go from there. Find out more at plasticfreejuly.org.
Kate Brocato is the communications and administrative manager for the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.
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