For many going plastic free anytime of the year can be tough, let alone when you have the added challenge of a global pandemic occurring. During the outbreak of COVID-19 we have seen a rise in plastic usage, as plastic can sometimes be associated with something being more “sanitary”. We see examples of this at various grocery stores when some produce is loose while others are wrapped in plastic.
Plastic Free July is a global movement that millions of people participate, in an effort to reduce the use of plastic and plastic pollution. COVID-19 has unfortunately undone some positive steps forward that we’ve been taking toward sustainability and reducing our plastic consumption. We’ve seen businesses revert to using single-use cutlery, not allowing customers to refill their reusable containers and some shops have forbidden customers from bringing reusable bags in an effort to limit cross-contamination. There has also been additional waste from protective gear such as gloves and masks.
While we’re not saying that these measures are unnecessary or uncalled for, as they can save lives, it does mean that we need to work harder and do our best to cut out waste where we can control it.
- Shopping at stores where you are allowed to bring reusable bags
- Looking for produce and food options that aren’t packaged in plastic
- Meal prepping so you’re not tempted to order takeout (or finding restaurants that package their takeout in sustainable packaging)
- Shopping local in an effort to avoid packaging that comes from ordering online
- Shopping at bulk food and refill shops (we understand that not everyone may have access to a shop like The Refillery, but try a quick google search of what options are in your area. You might be surprised by what you find!)
- If you do eat out, bring your own tupperware to take home leftovers
- Wear a reusable mask instead of the single-use masks
- Don’t beat yourself up if you “fail”
If you can’t collect all of your trash in a mason jar don’t think that you’ve “failed”. One of our favorite phrases is “Progress, not perfection.” No one is perfect and unfortunately plastic is a part of our world. See this as an opportunity to challenge yourself and others to find alternatives. We hope that after participating in #PlasticFreeJuly you’ll find new habits that you can carry on and make into a lifestyle. With millions of people taking the Plastic Free July Challenge change can happen, but remember to be kind to yourself and know that however small of an effort you’re making it will have an impact. This is also a time to challenge businesses and corporations to do better. Write to them or begin conversations to encourage them to use less plastic packaging. As consumers, we are at the mercy of what options are available for us to purchase. Things will not change unless we speak up and make them change.