To start, I want to say thank you to everyone who pledged to go plastic-free on Earth Day 2018 and gave it their best shot at living One Day Without Plastic. If you are anything like me, you probably noticed that it is everywhere and struggled to avoid the single-use, disposable plastics that litter our world. As consumers, it seems as though the marketing world has has us convinced that we need them to happily live a life of ease and convenience. My takeaway this Earth Day was that cleaning up our plastics isn’t necessarily the hardest part, it’s changing people’s hearts and minds that may prove to be the greatest challenge for our generation.
Plastic is truly all around us — it’s even inside of many of us, as studies have shown that some of the smallest marine life at the bottom of the food chain, like krill and microscopic plankton, eat the micro plastics that break-up (plastic doesn’t break down or biodegrade) and inhabit our oceans. They are eaten by bigger fish that we consume and thus plastic becomes a part of our lives in more ways than we can imagine.
I don’t say this to scare you or make you feel hopeless but I think we all do ourselves a disservice if we simply comply to living a life of ignorance as bliss instead of taking inspired and empowered action.
On a more positive note, the One Day Without Plastic campaign was such an incredible success, with so many pledges, social media love and a generous giveaway from two amazing brands, Recover and Parkland Bags who are fighting the good fight by transforming recycled plastic into gorgeous bags and apparel. We also got to spend an entire afternoon cleaning up plastics from Ideal Beach in New Jersey with the awesome crew of the Surfrider Foundation’s Jersey Shore Chapter. My super rad friend Missy Ballone of Wellness for Makers made it out, too (girl boss, alert!) more on her inspiring mission another time, I promise.
What we found + plastic fails…
Doing a beach or trail clean-up is always a mix of surprise and heartbreak. There’s so much trash that makes its way out into our environment and most of it is 100% preventable if we recycle and dispose of it properly. However, when it comes to plastic pieces these were the items that came out on top. You tell me if we could go without them. The top 5 items we found were,
- Black & Mild mouthpieces
- Tampon applicators
- Plastic flossing applicators
- Plastic Straws
- Nurdles (the tiny pieces of raw plastic material that larger plastic is made of)
Besides the nurdles, the other 4 items are things that do not need to be on our beaches and we can make that happen by cutting them out of our lives entirely. But that’s not to say it’s easy. I had a ton of plastic fails that I didn’t even realize were prevalent in my everyday life until I tried my hardest to go plastic-free. Some of my top plastic fails that I am continuing to work on are,
- Store-bought plastic snack bags (what my favorite pretzels come in! bummer)
- Feminine products, ahem
- Plastic wrap from purchasing things online. You don’t need bubble wrap if you go to the store to buy it, right?
- Miscellaneous plastic bottles, containers, the wrap around a glass bottle cap, etc.
Needless to say we are a work in progress here at my home, and are trying to honestly ask ourselves what we can cut back on, what we can live without and what are the alternatives available even if they take a bit more time and effort? Going to the grocery store that week was an interesting experience for sure but I learned that with a little creativity and willpower you can find a solution. And hey, it was sort of fun to shake things up and break out of the norm, how about that?!
A few tips for living plastic-free…
Start small. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, do what you can to build good habits now and watch how your efforts can grow into a better lifestyle overtime. I noticed that there were some things that Brian and I weren’t quite sure about and going cold turkey made us more likely to fall back into it. Baby steps are key.
Get involved in clean-ups and get outside more to see the effects first hand. I found so many items in bulk that surprised me at the beach clean-up and made me rethink a lot of the disposable plastic items i may be using now or have used in the past. Do we need handheld flossing applicators? Really?
Ask yourself is “ultra-convenience” really necessary? Can you carry those two avocados in your bag without plastic bags or netting? Be mindful of the things that seem so normal in your life that advertisers and marketers have you convinced are necessities. Plastic wrap for a piece of fruit is not a basic need.