Earth Day is fast approaching (it's this Friday, 4/22) so I'm here each day this week sharing tips and suggestions for you. If you ask me, Earth Day should be every day, but I'm happy to use this week to hone in on what we can do to fight climate change and protect our beautiful Mother Earth. Each day this week I'll share a resource or a tip on how you can lessen your impact on the planet. If you have suggestions or things you're already doing, please be sure to share them in the comments so we can amass a collection of various ways to reduce the harm Earth is suffering from every single day.
Today, let's discuss plastic. It's so convenient, I know, but it is so awful for our environment. Next month, New Jersey is banning plastic bags and straw and has a movement to "get past plastic." (I'm very excited about this!) Here's an excerpt from the law "Starting May 4, 2022, New Jersey retail stores, grocery stores and food service businesses may not provide or sell single-use plastic carryout bags and polystyrene foam food service products. Single-use paper carryout bags are allowed to be provided or sold, except by grocery stores equal to or larger than 2500 square feet, which may only provide or sell reusable carryout bags. After November 4, 2021, plastic straws may be provided only upon the request of the customer." (Learn more about NJ's plans to reduce or eliminate plastics here)
Microplastics - sure, glitter is pretty but at what cost?
Glitter is fun and festive, for sure, but, it gets everywhere and more importantly, is incredibly harmful to the environment. Glitter is a microplastic, a small or microscopic bit of plastic that finds its way into the environment, both land and water, and can easily be confused by animals as something tasty. When in the water, Microplastics can be confused for fish eggs and can slowly build up in the stomachs of marine life. With a belly full of Microplastics, you can best these animals eat less, become malnourished, may reduce or stop breeding (resulting in slower species growth) or may die.
Microplastics are also the result of a breakdown of larger plastics, so while forgoing glitter is important, reducing our plastic consumption and use every day is even more important. Think about the plastics you use each day, how can you reduce or eliminate them?
How can I start to reduce my use of plastics?
If you buy plastic water bottles, please reconsider. Even with the smaller caps and thinner bottles, disposable plastic water bottles are a significant contributor to climate change. From their production all the way to their disposal, they harm the Earth every step of their journey. A reusable bottle saves thousands of bottles from the landfill every year, they come in various materials, colors, patterns, some keep your water super cold. It's a fun way to express yourself too, get the bottle in your favorite color, emblazoned with your favorite teams logo or some other picture or message that means something to you.
Do you use plastic utensils regularly? How about buying a bamboo travel utensil kit? You can find them everywhere, from Amazon to Whole Foods. They come in little travel cases or bags and will fit nicely in your lunch bag, backpack, purse, or laptop bag. Don't want to buy a travel utensil set? How about digging through your silverware drawer, is there a rogue fork, spoon, and knife that don't quite match everything else or an extra set you never use? Why not make these your travel set? You can pledge to reduce single use plastic utensils through the official Earth Day website here
How about straws? How often are you using plastic straws? I have two metal straws that I love, one is just a regular metal straw for cold beverages and the other is one specific for hot drinks. It even has a screen at the bottom that allows me to brew loose tea leaves right in my mug without drinking any of the tea bits. This also prevents me from needing to buy tea in tea bags reducing waste even further.
Always carry reusable bags with you. Carrying groceries in tote bags is actually easier! You know how painful it is to carry heavy plastic bags in your hands, with a tote, you can sling a couple over your shoulder, so much easier to carry and it frees your hands up to open the door. Leave a couple in your car, find one that folds up small enough to fit in your purse of jacket pocket. Repurpose old bags you already have at home before buying new ones. Don't just use these bags for groceries, you'll want them on hand any time you are shopping. I remember years ago I was buying 5 books about the environment for a project I was working on and the cashier said to me, "I'm guessing you don't want a plastic bag for these?" He was right, I did not, however, the books were so heavy, the walk through the parking lot was SO painful, my arms felt dead by the time I got to my car and had indentations from the books. I would have been fine if I just had a nice tote bag with me!
Finally, figure out your plastic consumption here and make a plan to start reducing and eliminating your use now.
If you're already reducing or eliminating your plastic use or if you've just made a plan to do so, share it in the comments below. Then come back tomorrow for another Earth Day topic and tips!