No Plastic September just crept up on my radar. It was mentioned on a blog … I decided to do a little research into what I thought was an established September movement … and have found really nothing of substance to define what this even is, let alone whether or not it’s a real thing.
It might be a no plastic straw movement? Or it might be, like, do not use or purchase anything in plastic for 30 days?
I’m intrigued. By all of it. And I like a challenge.
So here’s what I’m going to focus on this No Plastic September (which I have decided to make a real thing):
Eliminating single use plastics. I take this to mean things like paper coffee cups (which are coated on the inside with plastic) and their corresponding plastic paraphanelia (lids, straws), plastic bags at the market, to-go containers, plastic silverware, and products that are wrapped in, lined with or are entirely made of plastic (yogurt containers, potato chip bags, cereal).
Full disclosure: I am going into this knowing full well that because of my stomach issues, there will be some plastic coming into the house on this front. I mean, my alternative for bread is a rice and sesame cracker that I eat daily. But I can up my game in other areas. One strike does not lose a battle.
Take my own silverware, napkins and cups. I do a lot of this already — it became a habit after our Zero Waste year. So I have a reusable water bottle, coffee canteen and even a glass to-go cup for iced coffee emergencies that go with me everywhere.
I am not always great about planning ahead with napkins and silverware. I mean, yes, I am fantastic about that when I’m packing a lunch in my reusable containers. I am not so great about it when I get snacky and end up at the store. I’m also not great at making sure Johanna has her reusables — she’s also got cups and straws and the whole works … at home. And she, too, has coffee emergencies. We can do better.
Focus on food storage. I don’t have many plastic containers left in our house — there are a few that have survived years of being packed in the girls’ lunches, and Eric has a set that he packs his lunches in every day. Most of our leftovers are stored in jars (Abby said her college friends who visited this summer were fascinated by all of our jars. That made me laugh. Apparently that’s not typical storage behavior?), and I’m not above putting a plate over a bowl and sticking that in the fridge. But because these behaviors are automated, I don’t tend to notice when plastic sneaks in. So for this one, I’m going to notice.
For those also intrigued but maybe don’t have the running start that we do,* some ideas:
Refuse straws. Just say no to plastic straws. Why? READ THIS.
Avoid fast food. It’s all single use containers, and all coated in plastic.
BYOC. Bring your own cup. Or mug. It’s astounding how much waste goes into that daily cup of coffee (HERE). Bottled water is also a scam and is also dripping in plastic (HERE). This is actually a fairly easy habit to get into — and honestly, just doing this all September if it’s not something you’ve ever done before would be amazing.
BYOB. Bring your own bag. I’ve been jacked to see more people with cloth produce bags lately — but just bringing a cloth bag to the grocery store and eliminating all of that plastic? That would also be amazing (HERE).
And just to get it out there, I realize that sometimes, you really do need plastic, like with patient care. When my father-in-law was in the ICU, that whole place was dripping with plastic.
I am pro plastic in these instances. It’s for the safety of everyone. What I’m talking about eliminating here are household plastics, coffee shop plastics, that kind of thing. We don’t need to be perfect; we just need to be better. I’ve talked with a lot of people who get caught up on doing things perfectly and then, when they mess up (as we all do), they get discouraged and just quit.
Did you learn to walk in a day? No.
From mistakes comes growth. That’s cheesy as hell, you guys, but it’s so true: Every failure is a learning experience. You’ll be more aware next time.
Okay, who’s with me?!
*We did a zero waste year, for crying out loud. I’ve elimiated most disposables and replaced them already with reusables — over time. I don’t think the point of this exercise is to toss all your plastic, run to the store and purchase new stuff. DO NOT BUY NEW STUFF. Or rather, yeah, you might need to buy new stuff (may I recommend a coffee canteen?) but you won’t know what you need for a while. I made the mistake of buying into the idea that to be zero waste — to eliminate the plastic — I needed to get “zero waste stuff.” What I really should have done was waited; I’d have made much better purchases if I had.
Learn from my mistakes!