How to participate in plastic-free July and what it means for our local area

Do you feel better about buying things in plastic because it can be recycled? Unfortunately, many plastics actually cannot be recycled and because of the contamination in our recycling system, our recycling may start being dumped in a landfill instead. What’s the solution? Reduce your plastic waste.

In this video from the Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners, they review what can and cannot be recycled. If this doesn’t change, not only will our recycling go to the Perdido landfill, our trash collection rates will also be raised.

Plastic-Free July

The award-winning Plastic Free July campaign was started in 2011 by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz and a small team in local government in Australia. It is now one of the most influential environmental campaigns in the world. Millions of people across the world take part each year. By reducing your plastic waste for the month of July, you can start making new habits that will last far beyond that month. Here are a few ways to celebrate Plastic Free July on the coast

1. Clean Up the Beach

We are so lucky to live in a beautiful beach town. Unfortunately, you can almost always find trash laying around the beach from people who don’t respect it. Be part of the solution by participating in a beach cleanup! There is one coming up on July 17.

Even if you can’t make it to an organized beach cleanup, spend a few minutes of your next beach trip by taking a walk around and picking up some trash!

2. Change your Shopping Habits

One of the biggest ways we consume plastic is in our grocery shopping! There are many ways we can change that, such as:

3. Speak Up

Don’t be afraid to speak up! By speaking up and asking for simple things, such as no straw in your drink, you create the opportunity to have a conversation. By speaking up, you may very well plant a seed that leads to one more person reducing their plastic waste.

Don’t be afraid to (kindly) speak your thoughts to local business owners. For instance, ask if there is any way they could switch to biodegradable takeout containers instead of Styrofoam and explain why this is so important to you.

For the businesses that are already providing better options, be sure to remind them how much you appreciate their efforts! We talked about a few local businesses that are doing better in this post!

4. Be Prepared

While we can’t change what businesses do when we go out to eat, we CAN change how we are prepared. For instance, if you know a restaurant only serves beverages in a disposable cups, consider bringing your own cup or stainless steel water bottle filled with water. One easy way to always be prepared is to keep a “zero waste” car kit in your car! Here are a few things to keep in your kit:

  • Reusable shopping tote
  • Silverware
  • Reusable straw
  • Mason jars (could be used as a cup or food container!)
  • Tupperware
  • Cloth Napkin

5. Get Connected

Getting connected to other like-minded individuals can be so helpful in your journey to living with less waste. Start your own beach clean up, get connected with a group like Coastal Community Cleanup, or get connected with your friends and start a less waste support group to help keep you encouraged! There is power in numbers.

There you go, friends! Those are five simple ways you can celebrate Plastic Free July!

What is one way you try to reduce waste?

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