plastic

Late Update to Plastic Free July

Now that I’m not so tied up with classes and backpacking, I finally got around to letting y’all know how Plastic Free July went.

Being in a new country and trying to find plastic-free alternatives proved to be very difficult! It didn’t help that I wasn’t totally sure how to say “no straw please” in German or any of the local languages of the places I was traveling to. I basically ended up just avoiding anything that could come with a straw! 😀

I thought it would be easier in Germany with plastic bags generally costing money in grocery stores and the emphasis on manufacturing. BUT like I’ve discussed before, it seems that people who recycle actually use way more plastic!

The ice cream I ate at lunch came in plastic. Even if I got my tea in a non-plastic cup, they tried to give me a lid or the dreaded straw!

Of course I try to drink it in the shop so I can use a reusable cup, but sometimes you just have to take it on the go!

One time I bought a glass bottle of lemonade because I was craving lemonade (why else!?!) and the darn thing came with a plastic top but I didn’t realize until I had already left the store!

As most of you know, I am vegetarian because I believe it is the kindest way to eat when considering animals, the environment, and our bodies. Well, there were a couple times when the only vegetarian food at the cafeteria was a wrap wrapped in plastic wrap! (How many times can I saw “wrap” in one sentence?) When it comes to deciding between meat, plastic, and going hungry, I personally chose plastic. It didn’t help that the apartment I was living in didn’t have a working kitchen! I’m hoping in the future I won’t have this problem because I will be able to prepare and bring my food from home with plastic-free containers, but for now I’m doing what I can!

Below I will go through all of the plastic I used during July. It was definitely not a total success, but it really showed me how much plastic I was truly using even though I felt that I was successfully being a conscious consumer.


Plastic I Used This July

  1. One lemonade lid
  2. One water bottle
  3. Plastic wrap (x2)

As you can see, I definitely went long stretches of time without plastic which was something I had never done before!

If you didn’t get a chance to try Plastic Free July, don’t worry you don’t have to wait until next July! You can try Plastic Free October or just Plastic Free Today! It’s great to push ourselves out of our comfort zone to show a little more compassion towards the Earth than we normally do.

Did you do Plastic Free July or are you always plastic-free? Let me know down below and if you have any tips, please don’t hesitate to let me know! 🙂

Plastic might be convenient, but is it worth it?

plastic microbeadsPlastic is everywhere in our lives these days. Water bottles, microbead skin products, disposable razors, shopping bags, and red solo cups.  It’s amazing how much of this ends up in the water systems, my dear Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean.

When debris like these end up in the system, they all get pulled around by the currents–typically ending up in the same place, if not in an animal’s throat or around their neck first. This place is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This “patch” is more than twice the size of Texas. It’s not surprising considering a study released in 2015 estimates that 8.8 million tons of plastic waste ended up in the ocean in the year 2010 and a more recent study in 2018 estimates the accumulation is 79,000 metric tons of plastic, consisting of 1.8 trillion individual pieces. I keep having this nightmare that the garbage patch is going to grow until the whole Earth is one large garbage patch!

plastic-bottle-in-water

Before we get to that point, too many animals will die from plastic. In 2013 in Spain, scientists found a dead whale, whose cause of death was intestinal blockage. The digestive system contained 59 pieces of plastic waste totaling 37 pounds in weight. Sea turtles are now ingesting twice the plastic they were 25 years ago. In total, it is estimated that plastic ingestion kills 1 MILLION marine birds and 1 HUNDRED THOUSAND marine animals every single year!

Plastic-Pollution-Seabirds

Other than ingestion, plastic can also ruin an animal’s life by tangling them up; this can make movement and growth difficult or impossible. Some species happen to inhabit areas where plastic pollution is more of a problem, causing them to be more susceptible to entanglements and ingestion caused by plastic. This fact proves true for species like the Hawaiian monk seal, which swim and feed in areas close to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

turtle-caught-in-plastic-ring

Not only can plastic hurt them in its full state, but also in later states. Although plastic does not biodegrade, it does break down and the chemicals that break down impact animals as well. The toxic chemicals really mess with the hormones of marine animals. In the long term, this can affect humans as well because many people are consuming the animals affecting by these pollutants.

 

So what can you do?

Of course, recycling can be a big help and not littering, but the only way to completely prevent these problems is by decreasing your plastic consumption. The best thing you can do is to completely eliminate plastic from your life! Convenience is not worth possibly living on a garbage planet.

Another great way to help is to pick up trash before it makes its way to the ocean like this inspirational guy!