Plastic Free July Blog Post

July is upon us. The year is half over. Kids are out of school, parents are taking time off work, and Manitobans are going in droves to beaches, campsites, and parks, enjoying their natural beauty. Unfortunately, plastic is a near-omnipresent blight

If you want to make a positive environmental difference, it’s a great time to think about ways to eliminate (or at least reduce) your plastic consumption.

Plastic is one of the modern world’s greatest conveniences, but it makes a monstrous mess, with an estimated 8 million metric tons in our oceans alone. For this reason, Greenpeace and Green Action Centre are teaming up on the Plastic-Free July campaign. You may be wondering how you can cut plastic from your life. Herewith, I present (just a few!) ideas from Beth Terry of My Plastic-Free Life:

  • Give up single-use plastic items for reusable alternatives. For example, over a trillion shopping bags and 480 billion drink bottles are produced annually. (But all other alternatives to the conventional high-density polyethylene shopping bag, as listed by Britain’s Environment Agency—low-density polyethylene, paper, biopolymer, cotton, polypropylene—must be reused several times to have an equivalent environmental impact.)

  • Make foodstuffs whose store-bought equivalents are packaged in plastic (Terry has recipes for yoghurt, soy milk, chocolate syrup, ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard). Squeeze fresh fruit when you want juice.

  • When you must buy packaged foodstuffs and household products, get them in glass, metal, or even paper. Continue to store them in containers made of these non-plastic materials afterwards.

  • Repurpose worn-out fabrics as handkerchiefs. The plastic slips in tissue boxes help add up.

  • Use bar soap instead of liquid hand soap.

  • Make your own adhesives (glue and tape replacements).

And a couple of my own ideas:

  • Ask couriers to cut out plastic bags. My family’s Free Press has been arriving with one lately, even though it doesn’t rain most days.

  • If you must use plastic, reuse it as many times as you can. Note, however, that drinking from single-use plastic cups and bottles can release toxins into your body, especially on hot days. It’s a better idea to incorporate them into craft projects. Plastic bags can be reused if they are foisted upon you and not destroyed or dirtied; store non-food items in them or use them as garbage bags. (We use many of ours to pick up after our dog.)

  • If you must buy items containing plastic, try to get them pre-used.

It’s a great time to enjoy the environment and these plastic-reducing tips will help. If we must consume …  we can do so while making less impact.

Thank you to our steering committee member Michael Bagamery for this food for thought!