The Power of Plastic Free July
The amount of plastic produced in one year is roughly the same as the entire weight of humanity. Half of which is for single-use items.
With so many human-made contributions to pollution and climate change, focusing on a specific issue may seem insufficient. To the contrary! It’s a highly effective way to create positive change right now.
This is why we love the idea of Plastic Free July! An entire month dedicated to education, advocacy, and urgent action to eliminate plastic waste. By taking a practical, everyday approach, we can make huge strides toward a cleaner, healthier ecosystem.
WHAT'S AT STAKE?
For starters, the visual beauty of oceans, lakes, rivers and land, as well as the entire ecological community is at risk of potential destruction due to plastic waste.
This includes our own health.
For example, the plastic used in disposable bottles, bags and food containers contain chemical additives such as endocrine disruptors, which can cause a range of negative health effects including cancer, birth defects, and immune system suppression in humans and wildlife.
Consider a typical plastic shopping bag. If we wait a 1,000 years, that bag will eventually degrade in a landfill. But not completely. It degrades into microplastics that absorb toxins and pollute the environment. As a result, microplastics are consumed by people through food and air. It’s estimated that globally, people consume the equivalent of a plastic credit card every week!
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Currently in California, lawmakers are working on the Plastic Pollution Producer Responsibility Act, which prohibits producers of single-use, disposable packaging or single-use, disposable food service products from selling, distributing, or importing such packaging or products starting in 2032, unless they are recyclable or compostable. Simultaneously, an initiative that could appear on the ballot in November, the California Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, would require all single-use plastic packaging and food ware used in California to be recyclable, reusable, refillable, or compostable by 2030 and production of single-use plastics be reduced by 25% by 2030.
The United States creates more plastic waste than any other country. But Congress has yet to pass a federal law to confront the plastic threat to our planet. It’s estimated that about 33 billion pounds of plastic wash into the ocean every year. This accounts for at least 85% of marine litter.
On the Federal level, the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act –if passed– would be the first national law to phase out unnecessary single-use plastic products, including plastic carryout bags and polystyrene foam food containers. It’d also put a moratorium on new plastic facilities across the country, as well as limit the amount of plastic waste exported to developing nations, putting the burden of managing plastic waste on the companies producing it.
WHAT ABOUT RECYCLING?
It certainly helps, and must be encouraged. However, recycling is like any other industry. It requires consumer demand for processing and use of recycled materials for new products so the technology and infrastructure can flourish.
According to the EPA, the United States has yet to recycle more than 10% of plastics used in our country. We can’t recycle our way out of the single-use plastic crisis. It must start with eliminating it.
The good news is that even without government legislation or advancements in recycling, everyone has the power to immediately start removing single-use plastic from their daily lives. Thankfully, it’s now easier than ever.
3 EASY TIPS TO ELIMINATE SINGLE-USE PLASTIC
1) Ditch disposable plastic water bottles. About 1.2 million plastic water bottles are discarded every minute! Adding a reusable water bottle to your daily routine can drastically reduce your plastic footprint. Saves you money, too!
2) Embrace reusable shopping bags. Americans use an average of 365 single-use plastic bags, annually. That’s over 100 billion bags each year! Reusable bags are cheap, widely available, and much better for carrying a heavy load.
3) Choose products with plastic-free packaging. Packaging is perhaps the greatest of all culprits. 40% of all plastic goes to packaging. 91% of packaging ends up in landfills. By simply opting for plastic-free alternatives, you’re directly making a difference.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PACKAGING
All product manufacturers, retailers and consumers must start taking responsibility for reducing the environmental impact from packaging waste. This requires a change in habits on a global scale.
In choosing products with plastic-free packaging, you’re sending a direct message to all brands that single-use plastic packaging is no longer welcome. If enough people commit to this action, we guarantee the state of packaging design will change for good.
Click here bit.ly/3RpUmpO to join over 7 million people around the world in the campaign to #BreakFreeFromPlastic.