October seems to be a popular month for causes, such as Breast Cancer Awareness and Bully Prevention. It’s also Rise Above Plastics Month. The Surfrider Foundation created the Rise Above Plastics Program to educate the public on the dangers of plastic waste in our oceans while encouraging the practice of recycling all plastic and eliminating our uses of single use plastic products. For Rise Above Plastics Month, everyone is encouraged to reduce their use of plastics by taking the Rise Above Plastics Challenge.
We can’t escape plastics in our world, they are all around us. Plastic is used to package our food, carry our groceries, and deliver our daily doses of caffeine. Plastics are found in many items around our homes and offices. Plastic has made many things easier but once it is created, it is nearly impossible to get rid of. Plastics are not biodegradable, instead it photodegrades, or breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces as it is exposed to the sun. It never fully disappears and eventually seeps into our waterways and ends up in our streams, rivers and oceans. These particles are killing marine life and finding their way into our food supply.
It’s our turn to help our oceans and ourselves. Join me during the month of October by taking the challenge to Reduce Your Plastic Footprint. Here are a few tips to help us eliminate plastics from our lives. Pick one or pick all, try it for one month and you may create a habit that sticks.
- Purchase (and remember to use) reusable shopping bags. It is estimated that Americans alone use enough plastic bags in one year to wrap the Equator 773 times.
- Purchase reusable water bottles.
- Carry your own utensils in your purse or backpack instead of using disposable table ware when eating away from home – you may raise an eyebrow when you pull out your own dishes at your friend’s BBQ or local fast food restaurant, but you might also start a conversation and convince someone else to jump on board for the challenge!
- Purchase fresh produce from your local farmer, farmer’s market, or produce stand.
- Replace your single use lunch bags and juice boxes with sandwich containers and a thermos.
- Bring your to-go mug with you to the coffee shop, gas station, or any restaurant that will allow it. When you must use their cup, refuse the lid and straw.
- Visit Pinterest or browse the internet for DIY recipes for all kinds of staples. I make salads on the weekend and store in Mason Jars for a grab and go lunch all week long. I also make chocolate syrup that I store in a reusable Mason Jar – both taste better than the prepackaged items from the store and they save us money too.
- Look for items that come in packaging other than plastic.
- Recycle. If you must use plastic, try to choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE) which are the most commonly recycled plastics.
- Buy and sell secondhand. No packaging equals no waste.
Good Luck and let us know how you do with the challenge.
For more information on how plastics effect the environment and how you can help reduce your plastic footprint, visit www.rapmonth.org, www.surfriderfoundation.org, and www.riseaboveplasticsprogram.org.