Photo Friday | Plastic Free July

So here's something I've seen floating around this week, as we finish up the first week of Plastic Free July:

Did you know that every piece of plastic that has ever been created still exists in some form on our Earth today? Despite recycling efforts, only 9% of that plastic ends up in new products.

Think about that, and think back on all of the single-use plastic you've used in the past. The toothbrushes you used as a child still exist, even if you threw them away 25 years ago. That Styrofoam takeout container from a restaurant 10 years ago is still around somewhere, whether it's in a landfill or somewhere out in nature. The thousands of straws you've used over the years are all still on this planet.

When you throw plastic away, it doesn't disappear. Because plastic doesn't biodegrade, it either sits in a landfill, or becomes litter and pollution. When you recycle plastic, sometimes it becomes a "new" product, and sometimes it still ends up being thrown away if it's contaminated. And not all plastics are recyclable.

Plastic Free July is a global initiative that focuses on reducing single-use plastics and improves recycling worldwide. 

This month, I'm aiming to look at where I can reduce more plastic in my own life. I'm in the habit of not getting single-use coffee cups or straws, but there are still plenty of areas where I can improve.

For example, I was recently out and about near lunchtime and needed to pick up some food to bring back to my office. I ended up going with the Whole Foods hot bar, where I was able to avoid getting lunch in a plastic or Styrofoam container. My tea can is recyclable and I had a reusable fork at work that allowed me to skip the plastic cutlery.

When you have a choice, choose to refuse single-use plastics. And of course, it's understandable if sometimes you slip up - it happens to all of us! Plastic Free July is not an all-or-nothing approach. It's about becoming more aware and putting in more effort to reduce your plastic waste. 

If you end up with a plastic iced coffee cup, keep it until you can rinse and recycle it. If you forget to ask your waiter not to bring a straw, just remember the next time you're out. If you left your cloth bags at home or in the car, see if it's possible to go without a bag at all.

Read my Times of Acadiana column all about Plastic Free July!

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