Yes, you read that correctly. Currently, I am trying to cut plastic out of my life, and so is Charleston. Why, you ask? There are so many reasons, but I’ll start with this:
Yes, you read that correctly.
Here’s the scoop
Plastic never, ever, ever, ever, ever goes away. It will continue to break down, but it will never fully decompose. What does this mean for our ocean? It means that more and more plastic is getting into our waterways and ocean-life is consuming the plastic, thinking it is food. Unfortunately, they are being poisoned by our trash. They are also consuming it, and think about this, then we eat that fish, which means we are consuming the plastic – YUCK!
How is plastic getting into our oceans in such large quantities? Some of it is coming from boats, but this is a very small quantity. Most of it is simply coming from littering. This means littering on the beach, on our streets, etc. Think about how our litter gets blown into the sewer…then it eventually makes its way into the ocean.
So, what can you do to cut out plastic? First, start looking around you. Becoming aware of how much plastic you encounter on a daily basis is a huge eye-opener. Plastic is everywhere. There is the plastic that helps you (medical equipment, your car, etc.). Then, there is one-time use, convenient plastics (straws, styrofoam containers, plastic bags/baggies, etc.).
Once you start becoming aware of what is around you, you take small changes to reduce the plastic in your life:
- Say good-bye to single-use cups. This means water bottles and coffee cups. Reuse a glass or aluminum bottle with filtered water (I try to bring my kid’s water bottles to restaurants with me to avoid the one-time used plastic kids cups). Most coffee shops will fill your mug/tumbler for you (or if you are drinking-in, they usually have a mug you can use!)
- Say no to plastic straws. You can drink without, or bring your own reusable straw! (Stainless steel ones are my personal fave). Here is a list of restaurants in Charleston that are giving up straws for the summer – bravo!!
- If you can remember to bring your reusable straw to a restaurant, try to bring a reusable container as well (ie: Tupperware or even a glass jar!) instead of using a Styrofoam (non-recyclable) container for your leftovers.
- BYOB – Bring your own bag. Y’all. This is the oldest tip in the book, am I right? Keep one in your car and use it everywhere! This means when you are shopping in clothing stores too. If you do get a plastic bag, you could reuse it as a trash bag, or even recycle it at a grocery store. *
- Have you thought of using reusable bags for your produce? They sell them at most natural grocers. This really steps up your non-plastic game. Just keep it in your reusable bag in your trunk and it’s easy-peasy!
- Have you noticed that more produce is coming individually wrapped in plastic? I don’t know about you, but I do not expect my produce to be gift-wrapped. I’m happy with it freely sitting on the shelf. Say “no” to individually wrapped produce in plastic. This is some of the hardest plastic to recycle (and if you are trying to cut on this stretchy plastic in your kitchen, google beeswax food wraps).
- Finally, remember the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse & Recycle. Before you buy something, think about how you will be consuming it. Is it absolutely necessary? Is there a more plastic-free version? Once you buy this item, are you able to reuse it several times? Will it be easily recyclable?
There are plenty of times that plastic can be a lifesaver (literally), but plastic has it’s time and place, and that place is not in our ocean. The biggest impact we have in getting our plastic out of the ocean is by modeling our plastic-free efforts in front of our children. Those absorbent minds watch everything that we do and if we show them how use other materials instead of plastic, it will become part of their nature. Making the switch from plastic to reusable can be challenging, but it is such a great way to keep Charleston healthy and beautiful – the way we all love it!
#strawlesssummer #plasticfreelowcountry #stopsucking #skipthestrawsaveaseaturtle
*All Harris Teeter’s collect plastic bags. They bale the bags which are then recycled into Trex lumber board (verified 6.26.17 with HT Corporate).