Green Tips: Plastic Free July Outside

Green Tips | July 7, 2021

As we spend our summers cooling off in lakes, rivers, and oceans, it’s important to not take our waterways for granted and do what we can to protect our environment. Water bodies provide our drinking water, give us recreational opportunities, and support countless species. Unfortunately, plastic waste is overwhelming our natural spaces, especially our waterways. It is estimated that by mid-century, plastic will outweigh the sea life in our oceans. Plastic does not biodegrade– it breaks down into tiny particles called microplastics that are smaller than a grain of rice. Marine organisms ingest microplastics and these particles move through the food chain. In fact, you probably have some inside you right now! Scientists say it’s possible that humans ingest 39,000 to 52,000 microplastic particles every year. 

Plastic-Free July is a great way to take part in a worldwide effort to reduce single-use plastics and be a part of a global shift towards sustainability. There are many small steps you can take that add up every time you make a sustainable choice when spending time recreating outside. Throughout July, whether you’re near water bodies or in green spaces, try some of the following to fulfill your pledge:

  • Use reusable bags 
  • Carry a reusable water bottle or coffee cup/thermos to fill
  • Have a metal straw handy 
  • Opt for reusable cups, plates, and cutlery
  • Pack your own meal and carry food in reusable containers or beeswax wrap
  • Bring with you large reusable or washable bags for recycling and compost
  • If the area you’re spending time in does not have recycling, bring the recyclables home and dispose of them there
  • Never dump food or liquids other than water into natural and open spaces
  • Do not litter and don’t be afraid to chase down anything that blows away!
  • Do not drop cigarette butts on the ground (they’re mostly made of plastic!)
  • Avoid spitting out chewing gum onto the ground
  • Never leave fishing lines or fishing nets in or near water bodies or on the ground
  • Use plastic-free decorations if you’re celebrating outside 
  • Never let balloons go
  • Clean up plastic you see around you 
  • Opt for cloth tablecloths and picnic blankets

In our world today, it is very difficult (but not impossible!) to become zero-waste or plastic-free. Remember that any effort to reduce plastic waste is a step in the right direction. If alternatives seem daunting to switch to, at least give it a try! You may find that it’s not so hard. In turn, you can save money, inspire others to make a switch, and improve your health by reducing packaged/processed foods, for example. At the very least, the planet will thank you for doing your part!


By: Kerry Ellis

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