Did you know that there is an organization called Plastic Free July® ? It “is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution.” Here at Heaven’s Dew, we have set up a Plastic Free July poster and are ready to help you make some changes in your plastic consumption. Read on to figure out ways you can reduce plastics in your life. You can also visit plasticfreejuly.org for resources and ideas for reducing single use plastics. If you decide to participate even in a small way in Plastic Free July, come in and sign our poster. Let’s see how many people we can get thinking about plastic reduction this month!
Toothbrush * cell phone case * hand soap bottle * toothpaste tube * hairbrush * dental floss * makeup container * workout clothes * yoga mat * microfiber towel * deodorant * water bottle * travel mug * straw * zipper bags * laundry detergent * softener sheets * shopping bags * pet toys * microfiber sheets…..
Have you ever taken an inventory of all of the plastic items you touch during a typical day? Plastic is so embedded in our everyday lives that we rarely do anything without involving plastic.
A few facts about plastic
According to www.nature.com it can take decades, to centuries, to millenia for different types of plastic to degrade in nature.
From www.nationalgeographic.org: “The rapid acceleration of plastic manufacturing, which so far has doubled roughly every 15 years, has outpaced nearly every other man-made material. And, it is unlike virtually every other material. Half of all steel produced, for example, is used in construction, with a decades-long lifespan. Half of all plastic manufactured becomes trash in less than a year, the study found.”
www.epa.gov states that only 8.7% of plastics are recycled in the US each year.
Why does plastic reduction matter?
Reduce energy use to manufacture and recycle plastic
Keep plastic out of our food chains
Saves money – buying and refilling a metal or glass water bottle will probably pay off in a single week!
Keeps our environment cleaner
What can you do? If plastic is everywhere, what impact can one person make?
It’s so easy to feel like any small action by any one single person doesn’t make a difference at all and that can disable us from even trying to do something new or different. I would challenge those thoughts with a belief that it is our responsibility to care for God’s Creation. In Genesis 1, the Bible tells us of God’s creativity – Go read Genesis 1 NIV – The Beginning – In the beginning God – Bible Gateway, even if you’ve read it before! God’ creativity is amazing!
Notice what is said in verse 28: “fill the earth and subdue it.” What does subdue mean? According to Dictionary.com, it means “to bring under cultivation.” So, we are supposed to nurture and care for the Lord’s creation. And remember, Creation refers to the water, the sky, the plants, the soil, the animals, and people!
Genesis 2:15 says “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (NIV). Now we know that Adam and Eve did not remain in the Garden of Eden. Because of sin, they were expelled into a different, less perfect form of creation and in Genesis 3: 23 it says, “So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.” (NIV)
They were tasked with working the land – not over-using it, depleting it, or killing it. In Psalm 24:1 the NIV reads,
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; 2 for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.”
So, I ask you, if all of the earth and everything in it belongs to God, should we not show Him respect through the choices we make when it comes to our use of plastics? We saw at the outset how pervasive and harmful plastics can be. God has charged us with taking care of this earth and those who live in it. One of the ways we can do that is by reducing our use of plastic!
There are so many ways to do this. The United States is full of single-use plastic. We think nothing of picking up quick and easy snacks, personal care products, and cleaning items and tossing them in the trash after one or two uses. So, what if we start there? Here are a few ideas:
- Zipper bags there are number of other options for single use zipper bags including waxed cloth bags, metal/glass/wood containers, beeswax wraps, paper lunch sacks (some of these even come with cute stickers for kids’ lunches!), etc.
- Plastic cutlery: Use bamboo options or a compostable plastic variety which are plant based rather than petroleum based. Another option would be to use metal cutlery and wash them! You can often find sets of cutlery at thrift stores for very little cost and they look great on a buffet or at a picnic. Another possibility is a reusable set – these are usually stainless steel or wood of some kind and they come in a kit that you can easily tuck in a lunchbox, purse, or console in your car.
- Dryer sheets: did you know that most dryer sheets are made of polyester which is plastic? They are also coated in chemicals which then coat your laundry (But that’s a discussion for another time!). Vinegar can be added to your final rinse cycle and works to soften your laundry. Another idea is to use sachets of dried lavender in your dryer. And finally, wool dryer balls work well to keep laundry separated in the dryer for a faster dry cycle. If you add a safety pin to your dryer balls, static will be reduced. Want to add a scent to your laundry? Add several drops of your favorite essential oils to your dryer balls. Just remember to throw them in by themselves for a couple of minutes before you add your clothing to make sure you don’t get oil spots on your clothes!
Isn’t this fun! And here’s another plus – most of these suggestions are way cheaper than the single-use plastics we are all used to! Here are a few more ideas.
Plastic water/drink bottles: Buy a metal one! Most of them have clips for easy attachment to diaper bags or backpacks. Fill them with water the night before and stick them in the fridge – so easy! If you would rather drink something else, like iced tea, make some iced tea in a pitcher at home and fill your reusable water bottle with that. Think about how much less plastic that could be just within your family in one year!
- Dental care: toothbrushes and dental floss containers are almost all plastic. But there are now other options! You can get bamboo toothbrushes and refillable floss containers. You can also find refillable glass floss containers. Additionally, there are subscription services available that send zero-waste floss and toothbrush products to you on a schedule that you choose.
- Food items – next time you’re at the grocery store, look around a little bit – almost everything comes in plastic! But there are sometimes a few other options. Make a decision to get honey, maple syrup, peanut butter, and applesauce in glass jars rather than plastic. This is one way to let manufacturers know that you prefer to not use plastic (You are voting with your dollar!)
- Produce: Pretty much all produce comes in plastic, BUT there is another way. Get some reusable produce bags and choose the produce that has not been already wrapped. Just a word of caution here – a lot of reusable produce bags are made of polyester or nylon. That means they are made of plastic. Look for bags made of linen, hemp, or cotton. They are lightweight and wash nicely.
- Plastic shopping bags: Did you know that 59 countries have banned plastic bags? Denmark did it in 2004 – that was 18 years ago!!! We can do this – but just like produce bags, beware of what those reusable bags are made of. Most of the ones for sale at stores are made of polyester (which is plastic!) So, look for canvas, cotton, or bamboo options. Did you know that you can very easily turn old T-shirts into reusable shopping bags? Turn it inside out and make a double or triple seam across the bottom hem. Turn it right side out and lay it flat on a table. Cut off the sleeves and around the neckline (cut through both sides of the shirt at the same time). There you go! You have a shopping bag! These fold up so small and wash up great and they are free!!! – although they do sometimes confuse baggers at the grocery store who think you have brought them a stack of T-shirts!
- Straws: Ooh-ooh! These are easy! Options include paper, wood, metal, or glass. I would suggest using wood or metal for when you are out and about. You can even buy telescoping straws that fit better in your pocket, lunchbox, or backpack!
Okay – we’ve covered a lot of single-use plastic, but there is so much more you can do. Here are some other ideas for items that are not single use but would definitely help reduce the use of plastic in our environment.
- Microfiber sheets and towels: Did you know that these are actually made of plastic? Look for sheets made of cotton or bamboo.
- Workout wear: a lot of workout wear is also made of plastic. This is why it is sometimes hard to get clean and smelling fresh. Look for new brands that are being made with bamboo, cotton, and other plant fibers.
- Detergent/cleaning bottles: I heard a quote the other day, “Laundry will always be there for you.” Isn’t that so true! Just as soon as I think I am catching up, here comes my daughter with several loads from her upstairs bedroom! This is another area that uses a lot of plastic. Fixing this one is fairly easy too. There are many easy DIY recipes for laundry detergent online. Or there are now products available in liquid, powder, or bar form that come in glass or paper packaging. Another upside to this kind of laundry detergent is that you are usually eliminating many chemicals and using only safe and natural ingredients. If you buy local or through Etsy, you are supporting someone in your community by buying their product! Oh, and by the way – stain remover is also available in bar or liquid versions in glass bottles or jars.
- Toys: Have you ever stopped to think about how many toys (both for pets and for children) are plastic? While they are not single use, they do have a limited life span. Why not look for wood or cloth options instead?
Whew! So many ways that we can make a change with the use of plastics in our every day lives! Which one will you pick? I encourage you to choose at least one that you think you and your family could embrace. And then try it for the month of July. Maybe you will get really good at that one thing and be ready to choose another for the month of August! It’s the tiny steps that lead to the big accomplishments!
Remember, if you decide to make a change regarding plastic during July, come in to Heaven’s Dew and sign the Plastic-Free July poster. Let’s see how many in our community will make a decision to reduce plastic use!