Climate Action Collaborative: Celebrate Plastic Free July
Climate Action Collaborative
July is a great month. It’s the peak of summer, prime time for camping, the wildflowers are popping and the trails are calling. July is also a wonderful month to join in a global movement to create a cleaner world.
Plastic Free July is an annual challenge aimed at reducing plastic pollution. By raising awareness about the excessive use of plastics, participants learn, share resources and pledge to become part of the solution to reduce global plastic usage and subsequent pollution.
A great jumping-off point, and a major target of Plastic Free July, is to reduce single use plastics. Some plastics, like bottles, tubs, jugs and cups, are recyclable in our local systems.
Unfortunately, nearly all single-use, film and flimsy plastics like plastic bags, straws and cutlery are not recyclable and must be sent to the landfill. What’s worse, many of those items never make it to the landfill and instead end up as litter in our roads, waterways, mountains and communities, or as contamination in our recycling bins.
We all use more single-use plastics than we probably realize. According to the National Resources Defense Council, we produce 300 million tons of plastic annually worldwide, and half of that is just for single-use plastics. From the cutlery and clamshell containers in our to-go meals, to the plastic produce bag at the grocery store, to the bubble wrap in your packages, plastics are briefly used all around us and just as quickly thrown away.
These single-use plastics also create additional challenges for our Eagle County Climate Action Plan waste diversion goals. Those goals are harder to achieve if contaminated recycling bins get sent to landfills and use of an undivertable material continues. The good news is that there are plenty of easy alternatives that can greatly reduce the plastics in our streets, waterways and landfills. There are so many opportunities to make plastic-free choices, and once you start digging, it’s hard to stop.
Tips for a #PlasticFreeJuly:
Find your plastics
Audit a day or week to identify where, when, what and why you’re using single-use plastics. Once you know what you’re working with, it will be much easier to eliminate and find alternatives.
Reduce your usage
There are lots and lots of plastic alternatives out there nowadays, like reusable water bottles, mesh produce bags and bamboo travel cutlery. However, many things don’t even need an alternative and just require a simple behavior shift.
- If you order delivery or pick up a meal to-go to eat at home, just ask for no cutlery or condiment packets. Often those items are put in there by default, but who needs them?
- Look for items that aren’t pre-packaged in plastic, like opting for bar soap instead of liquid. Skip the plastic produce bag at the grocery store, too; you’re probably going to be washing that produce when you get home anyway.
- Buy in bulk and use refillable packages for items like dish soap, shampoo and cleaning products. Take advantage of local options like refill store fill & refill in Edwards
Join the challenge and take action
- Plastic Free July is the initiative of the Plastic Free Foundation. Join over 326 million people in 177 countries who pledged to take action in July 2020. Its website is full of resources and zero waste ideas.
- You can join Eco-cycle, a zero waste nonprofit based in Boulder, for its Plastic Free Challenge. By signing up you’ll receive weekly updates, tips and resources around Plastic Free July all month long.
- Take the Walking Mountains Pledge to be Plastic Free in Eagle Valley.
Nina Waysdorf is the sustainability programs coordinator at Walking Mountains Science Center in Avon. The Climate Action Collaborative is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Eagle County 25% by 2025 and 80% by 2050.