Meagan, Christina, and I decided to take the Plastic Free July Challenge. The goal of the Plastic Free July Challenge is to encourage people to stop single-use plastic product consumption and reduce plastic packaging (at least for the month of July). It’s also to help people become more aware of issues surrounding plastic use in our lives and to encourage new consumption habits moving forward.
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The big 4 when it comes to single-use plastic product consumption are:
- Shopping bags
- Coffee cups
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, as many as one trillion plastic bags are used each year. They also report that annually, Americans dispose of 25 billion cups a year. Americans use about 50 billion plastic water bottles a year and about 500 million straws daily. Less than 5 percent of plastic is recycled yearly and much of the plastic that has ever been created is still in existence.
In terms of energy consumption, our yearly use of throwaway cups alone translates into 9.4 million trees harvested; 363 million pounds of waste generated; 3,125,000 tons of CO2 emissions being created. Again, this is just for one year only of American’s use of disposable coffee cups.
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I didn’t think the Plastic Free July Challenge would be too difficult for Meagan, Christina, or I since all of us are generally pretty good conservationists. Yet I know each of us does have our own weak spots. I am great when it comes to not consuming single-use plastic water bottles or shopping bags, but my weak spot is using throw away coffee cups. I love my Starbucks! I did buy one of their inexpensive reusable cups, but I only used it a few times. Somehow I never had it with me when I visited a shop. When I brought it into my house or office, it never made its way back into my car.
My solution: I need multiples. Just like I have tons of canvas or reusable shopping bags, I needed to buy a bunch of reusable coffee cups—which I did.
As I write this post and wonder about the solutions to reducing single-use plastic products, I keep coming back to that word: multiples. Multiples will facilitate convenience and convenience is why we like single-use plastic products in the first place. Most of us just aren’t willing to give up convenience so let’s not give it up, let’s just find new ways to create convenience.
I’m excited about taking the Plastic Free July Challenge. I think I’ll finally be able to kick my coffee cups habit. What about you? What plastic products would you like to finally give up?
Related: Zero-Waste Eco-Friendly Gifts
Are you taking the Plastic Free July Challenge? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.
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