Our founder and alchemist extraordinaire Jenette is starting her personal sustainability challenge this February. Jenette is committing herself to reducing her single use plastic consumption.
Throughout the month of February, she will be purchasing no single use plastic products and sharing her challenges, successes and findings.
Jenette has been preparing and researching in order to begin her personal sustainability challenge, which starts with adding an R to the 4 Rs in the title of this article, Refuse. Refusing single use plastic is the best and most efficient way to reduce our plastic imprint and destruction globally.
You might have heard that scientists predict that the oceans will contain more plastic than wildlife by 2050, furthermore, hundreds of thousands of seabirds and fish ingest plastic every year.
Plastic is truly threatening our entire eco system! The good news is that we can make a big difference by reducing the amount of plastic in our oceans. How? By taking a stand and refusing to purchase any single use plastic. This decision in and of itself is a simple one, but the execution is a whole other matter and will require planning and thinking ahead.
Examples of single use plastic include plastic forks and knives, plastic shopping bags, plastic coffee cup lids and stirrers, plastic water bottles, Styrofoam of any kind, plastic take out containers and of course, plastic straws. By making the decision to refuse any of these items we can all reduce our single use plastic consumption, and by doing this together, we can make a significant positive impact.
How does this work in practice? Making the decision to not purchase any single use plastic is a relatively easy one, but how do you stay true to your commitment? It’s all in the prep. Here are a few ways Jenette is preparing herself for her challenge:
Incorporate an alternative to single use plastic into your daily routine:
Take your stainless steel, glass and reusable bottles and containers with you everywhere you go, keeping extras in your car for any surprise coffee shop or take out purchases. Collapsible, reusable to-go containers are great for this purpose as they take up little space and you can have multiples.
Plan ahead! Meal planning is going to play a major part. If you are running around for work, you’ll need to plan your meals, snacks etc. We cannot assume our health food stores carry compostable packaging, you will need to make sure you are bringing in your own containers if you are shopping for a snack, drink or meal. It is no longer illegal in CA to bring in your own refill containers, however discretion is up to managers and owners. Look over this factsheet from Surfrider for more details.
Think twice before throwing away that old, broken "thing". Many "things" in our life break or get old and run down, not being able to perform the way they were originally intended. But before just tossing it into the trash or recycle bin, take a minute to figure out if it can be repurposed for something else. You'll be surprised on how many "things" can have a 2nd life.
The fact is we all rely on our recycling bins a bit too much, most of us don’t even know that there are many items we are recycling that we shouldn’t! Well intentioned recycling happens when we mean well, but don’t really know what we are doing and what we are NOT supposed to recycle.
A great example of this is a pizza box. Most of us believe a pizza box is the perfect item to recycle yet the part of the pizza box that is drenched in fat should never be recycled and could possibly contaminate your entire recycling bin, therefore causing your entire bin to be thrown into regular trash, filling up our garbage dumps = landfills.
Wild Minimalist has written a comprehensive blogpost on this and we encourage you to read and study her list of “11 items you should really stop recycling.” Please note: this information is based on the recycling system they have in place in San Francisco, each of our cities will have a different, sometimes better or worse system in place. We encourage you to do your research and follow your municipalities guidelines and rules.
Unsure whether you can recycle something – look it up – you may not find it easily, however each city should have published guidelines. We’ve found lots of helpful information on Los Angeles’ Clean LA site.
A common misconception about health food stores is that they must be responsible about recycling, we hate to break it to you, they aren’t. The best way to avoid any single use packaging is by finding local refill stations for body wash, cleansers and shampoos and shopping your local farmers market, bring jars and bags, don’t accept theirs ,and make a mental note; going to a regular supermarket will tempt you to buy plastic while farmers markets will remind you to bring your own containers and shopping bags.
There currently is not a comprehensive system to collect and store your compostable items beyond your own kitchen or yard, we are talking to the city of Los Angeles to learn more about this; how we can play a positive part as citizens to create positive change in our composting and recycling systems. We were just at the Environmental Affairs Committee meeting for our neighborhood last night in Los Feliz, CA. to see how we can do more to make a difference and find out answers to some of this Gray area. We encourage you wherever you live, to do the same.
Recycled clothing, vintage and used clothes are the most sustainable way to shop and up your fashion game. Our team member Barbara thrifts much of her family’s wardrobe and household textiles and simply throws them all straight into the dryer when she gets home, getting rid of any possible nasties, then washing them, then drying again.This way you can feel good and safe about your purchases.
Buying used shoes can seem like a bridge too far for many of us. You can use a costumers’ trick and spray the inside of the shoes with pure vodka, this will leave them clean and free of bacteria. Alternatively, you can use distilled white vinegar with water and a few drops off lavender in a mister as another cleaning method for clothes and shoes.
Talk with the stores, restaurants and businesses you frequent, if they start making better decisions, we can collectively reduce the amount of plastic in our oceans and possibly save our planet!
Finally, we need to express again the importance of the 4th R…REFUSE! Refusing to use single use plastic will make the most impact. Here are a few sustainable products we have added to our routines that will help you incorporate the 4th R into your daily life.
Chewtab, this zero-waste product is completely plastic free and replaces the toothpaste in plastic tubes you’ve been using your entire life.
Marley’s Monsters reusable towels and facial pads.
Reusable Produce bags.
Thank you for reading and sharing this. We can all have such positive impacts on our friends, family and community. Our combined efforts can snowball into a cleaner ocean and planet for our children and generations to come.