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Plastic Free July
We are well into the month of July now. A month full of summertime glee and sunshine! But did you know that this also is a month free of plastic?? At least this is the case for those who are participating in Plastic Free July. During the month of July we are doing this challenge. The main goal is to avoid consuming as much plastic as possible but for the sake of this blog post we will be talking about the ‘big 4’. The 4 major contributors to plastic waste.

- plastic water bottles [drink bottles]
- to-go coffee cups
- plastic straws
- plastic bags

PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES

Plastic water bottles are a huge problem. Many families and households use these on a daily basis as their water source. Not only are they harmful to our environment, but they are harmful to our health as well. Oils that make up the plastic shape of the bottle can secrete into the water itself — making the actual liquid your drinking, not as pure as you might have thought. Another thing to keep in mind health wise, is that though most bottled water companies claim to have fresh spring water or some other pure source of H20, a percentage of the water found in water bottles are actually just tap water. So we’re basically paying for something we can get for free from our kitchen sink. Going back to the environmental effects of these, though they claim to be recyclable — a very low percentage of them are actually recycled. And they can only be down cycled, meaning they’re made into a lesser grade plastic, which will end up in the landfill anyways. Also, something that shocked us to learn was that many plastic water bottles are collected, thrown on a boat and shipped to other countries — only to be dumped in someone else’s back yard. They may seem convenient in the moment, but long term there effects are anything but. Good thing there are other great options that are both healthier for you and the planet!



ALTERNATIVES:

Glass or metal reusable water bottles are where it’s at! A one time purchase that will pay for itself in just a few uses. With metal or glass, you don’t have to worry about toxic chemicals leaching into your water either. Some brands we love are Life Factory, Hydroflask, Klean Kanteen, Swell, Soma — only to name a few! If you are on a tight budget, using a mason jar is a great option as well!


TO-GO COFFEE CUPS

Both the actual cups and their lids don’t get recycled. I know, I know — but it has the recycle sign on them! Unfortunately, the truth is they don’t get recycled. The cups themselves are lined with plastic on the inside, which makes the entire cup non-recyclable.



ALTERNATIVES:

You can get your own reusable coffee cup! You can find them pretty much anywhere and most coffee shops have their own version you can purchase. The great thing about bringing your own coffee cup too is that many places give you a discount off the cost of your drink. We’ve had our metal insulated tumblers for a while but an awesome brand to check out is Keep Cup. And if you love cold drinks, take a look at Mason Bar Company. If you’re trying to pinch your pennies though you can use that same mason jar we talked about earlier for this as well! If you aren’t in a rush and want to enjoy your beverage at the place you’re ordering from — ask if they have ‘for here’ cups. Places like Starbucks or local establishments usually have glass or ceramic cups to enjoy your drink there plastic free!


PLASTIC STRAWS

They’re fun to use, but totally unnecessary. Straws are another piece of plastic that end up in our oceans, reeking havoc on the marine life.



ALTERNATIVES:

The first and most obvious swap is to just do with out straws and use your mouth. But if you’re really into slurping through a straw, there are reusable versions! We personally have metal straws from Eco at Heart but there are also bamboo and glass straws as well. All you have to do is give them a rinse after each use and your good!


PLASTIC BAGS

In California, we don’t see many plastic bags anymore but they’re still a huge problem! This is probably one of the easiest things to swap out for a reusable alternative.



ALTERNATIVES:

Reusable bags. Canvas bags are our favorites because they’re made from natural fibers and are biodegradable. But use whatever you have! If you commute via public transportation or walking, you could even consider using a back pack or mini cart. This applies to plastic produce bags as well. Instead of using those, opt for carrying produce loosely and then giving them a good wash when you get home. Or use smaller clothe bags. Some of the bags we use for produce and the bulk section are clothe bags that came with jewelry or shoes and are now repurposed for groceries. Online stores like Ambatalia and Yore carry some really great options for these and other zero waste alternatives!


With all of these tips remember — you don’t have to go out and buy zero waste alternatives right away. The most eco-friendly and economical thing you can do is to use what you already have! We are enjoying developing new habits this month. So tell us — Are you going to try avoiding any of these plastics this month? If so, which ones? Share your journey in going plastic free by using #PlasticFreeJuly on social media!



XO, Cassidy

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