Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Plastic Free July

So, it may be the second of August and I just heard about plastic free July, but it is what got me to thinking about this, and I thought I'd take a break from rambling on about my clothing choices...

We, as a species, use a LOT of plastic. Plastic that, unless it is recycled, will end up in a landfill and will be there for millennia because it effectively NEVER breaks down. And I think that there are about a million things that we can do on a daily basis that are not difficult, in order to decrease our plastic consumption.

I made the switch to <mostly> reusable grocery bags years ago. We are more lenient on that now, but we use the plastic grocery bags as garbage pail liners for the few disposable diapers we use. So we do at least repurpose them. I started washing out <most> of my ziplock bags and reusing them awhile ago, too. Because usually they are perfectly good after one use. When I pack my lunch I use a reusable Bee's Wrap sandwich wrap to pack my sandwich, and I almost always bring reusable containers with my food in it. I recycle what I can, which around here is only #1 and #2 plastic, and you know what? There is a LOT of #5 plastic that is used in food containers. I sadly have to put those in the garbage right now. I have carried my own water bottle around for a long time.

But still, the amount of plastic is staggering. Think about how many things we touch every day that were wrapped in plastic, are made of plastic, etc... Toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, makeup, toys, toothbrushes, toothpaste... I could go on and on.

I recently I ran across a Instagram account called simplyzero_. It's a girl from Cincinnatti who is pledging to go "zero waste" over the next year. That means that she, quite literally, makes no trash to go to a landfill. It is not a new concept to me, but for some reason, her approach rang true for me and what I've been trying to do recently to simplify my life, minimize my impact, and leave the world as good a place as I can for my kids and grandkids.

There is no way I can totally get rid of all of my trash. It just is not going to happen. HOWEVER, it is not necessarily about the end goal, but rather about the process of being mindful in our waste. We have a tendency to flippantly just throw things in the garbage. And away it goes, never to be seen again. If we had to pile our trash up in our backyard, we'd be more mindful.

Our bread comes wrapped in plastic. When I make my own bread at home, you eliminate that plastic bag. Yogurt comes in a #5 plastic container. It takes about 10 minutes of work to make your own whole milk yogurt at home, which I used to do. I need to start doing that again.

So, a few things I learned from her. If you put a spork or a reusable multi-utensil in your purse, you don't need to use plastic utensils when you go out to eat. I learned about TerracCycle zero waste box. You have to pay for it, but you can literally recycle almost ANYTHING. I'm thinking of getting one for alkaline batteries, because with kids, we go through an insane number of those in all of their toys. And maybe one for those food pouches that we get.

I also learned about Plaine Products which are shampoo, conditioner and body wash that come in aluminum containers. You order one, then when it runs out, they send you another, and you send them the container back in a prepaid box. They clean the container and refill it for the next person. What a fantastic idea! I wish they made body lotion, too!

And, something I hadn't really thought of, toilet paper. And paper towels. They all come wrapped in plastic. Which can't be recycled.  Who Gives a Crap is a company that will send you toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues that are made from sustainable fibers, wrapped in paper, in a cardboard box that you can recycle. And then I don't have to fill my cart at the store up with Scott crappy toilet paper that is wrapped in plastic. Because that toilet paper is crappy anyways. Anyone who knows Charlie knows that we have a 5 year supply of toilet paper right now. BUT, eventually that will change. And I'd like to try to do something a little more sustainable when the time comes.

Lastly, I'm going to try to get more serious about bringing my own produce bags to the grocery store. I bought some cotton ones at one point, but I'm not a huge fan bc you can't see what is in them. So I may have to research some other options.

It's about the process. And being mindful. And maybe inconveniencing yourself a little bit for the betterment of the planet. Because we only have one. And we are quickly making a mess of it...