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So to keep a tidy list for myself and to give you guys something to reference, here is a list of ways to reduce your single use plastic consumption!
You'd be surprised where else you need these babies besides the supermarket. Over the past few days I've been to Target and just general shopping, where I found I also needed my reusable bags. It's definitely hard to do because a lot of times those things are unplanned and you kind of just go while you're already out and then by that point you realize your bags are hanging nicely...in your house. So something I suggest would be keeping a few in your car. Because you never know when you'll wind up at Target and most likely end up leaving with at least 4 bags of stuff. Make sure they're not plastic! As for shopping at the mall or things of that nature, try a small packable plastic bag. They fit in your purse or there are even ones that you can just clip on the side.
Reusable Water Bottles
First off, I want to say that bottled water is horrible. It's so unreliable and you never really know where it's coming from. And it's expensive!! So not only is it better for you to use your own refillable bottle, but it's better for the environment! I'm sure you've seen pictures of single use plastic water bottles strung together on college campuses, in parks, and all over to give you an idea of just how much of them we dispose of. It really is insane, and honestly not worth it. So pick yourself up a cute water bottle (or 4), a water filter if you need it, and ditch the bottled water.
Reusable Plastic Baggies
Ziploc bags are a huge culprit of single use plastic mayhem. I am super guilty of using these, because before I just never really thought about it. I made my pb&j, stuck it in a baggie and was on my merry way. But recently I came across something I didn't even know existed: reusable plastic baggies. I actually found them at TJMaxx in the home goods section and was like, "Hey this is pretty cool!" The only thing is make sure you thoroughly clean them each time by hand. The dishwasher just doesn't cut it because it can't get in the corners and get all of that sticky peanut butter out. I find they are best for snacks like crackers and things that aren't so sticky. I also used mine to collect sea shells on the beach! They are definitely handy to have around and even if you still find you need to use regular Ziploc bags, these will reduce your use by a decent amount.
How many times to you go to Starbucks a week? Or any other coffee shop of fast food place for that matter. Think amount how many plastic cups and straws you throw away every day. It's a lot. And you don't even realize it until you stop and think about it; until you are made aware. A lot like our plastic bag friends, a lot of these plastic cup incidents take place on the fly which makes it hard to be prepared. But what you can do is keep a tumbler or reusable coffee cup in your car so if you do swing by Starbucks on your way to work you can have them put it in your own special cup that doesn't kill the environment. Yay!
Now there are a lot of things that are especially hard to avoid. For example, just this morning I had to throw away an empty orange juice container with a frown on my face. Although, my dad uses them sometimes for drink mixes, we don't have room in the fridge so away it went. I think the least we can do at this point is recycle, and if you don't have that ability do as much as you can to reduce & reuse! I know if I wind up bringing home a bunch of plastic bags, I use them in my bathroom and office trash cans. So even though I'm technically throwing them out, I still get more than one use out of them! If anything, it will make you feel better.
So, I plan on making Plastic Free July a great learning experience and a big challenge for me. If not only to reduce my single plastic use, but to do my research and learn about other ways I can help! There are plenty of great resources online (just do a Google search and you'll find a ton!) and also check out the Save the Mermaids website! There's a ton of great info on there, as well as awesome products! And don't forget to go and sign their Plastic Free July Pledge!! Be plastic free for the sea!!