Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and the Newest “R,” Refuse

Plastic Pollution is a devastating problem plaguing our planet, especially our oceans. According to the book Plastic Soup, if we continue at the current pace, by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight.

Already today, the ocean’s creatures (large and small) are literally choking on plastic. In the vast ocean, plastics swim. There, they break into smaller bits until consumed. In the bellies and bodies of marine life, plastic can interfere with various physiological processes, and sometimes – the ability to merely survive.

To address plastic pollution, we must face the fact that there is simply no such thing as “away.” Garbage and plastic pollution may seemingly go away to a landfill, but that is just where a single-use bottle goes to spend the remaining 400 years (or more!) of its life. If plastic doesn’t remain in the landfill, it finds a way to waterways and eventually the ocean, where it can be ingested by ocean animals.

Some plastic washes ashore. Such is the case with straws, one of the most common single-use plastics, found every day on beaches around the world. Five hundred million straws are made each day in the U.S. (That’s a whopping total of 182.5 billion straws produced in the US annually.) This is but a small piece of the plastic pollution problem created by the plastic frenzy. Each year the estimated weight of plastic production equals that of the weight of all humanity, and more plastics are on the way. The thought is staggering.

We must slow the pace of production. We must stem the pollution. We can turn this tidal wave of plastic and it starts with each one of use doing a simple act: refusing. Refuse. Refuse. We can all make the commitment to refuse as much single-use plastic as possible.

By refusing we can send a clear message to industry: we don’t want these polluting materials. We want something else. Something better. We can use our dollars to support a solutions-based economy fueled by sustainable alternatives.

At MADE SAFE we look at all angles of toxicity – from people and fish, to coral reefs, pollinators, and land animals. People and planet. And the simple fact of the matter is: Plastic is made from non-renewable materials using highly toxic production processes. Some, if not all plastics, leach potentially toxic chemicals into products over the course of use. Plastic is generally not biodegradable, which means it stays around for, pretty much, ever. Plastics pollute the planet. 

Ways to Refuse Plastic this Plastic-Free July & Beyond

  • Check your trash and recycling bin. Yep, we really mean analyze your trash. Take note of the places where you use single-use plastics the most. Plastic wrap? Straws? Coffee cups and lids? Disposable silverware? Tea bags? Focus on shifting in the areas where you use plastic the most, as you’ll have the biggest impact.
  • Purchase a to-go cutlery set that includes silverware and a straw. Then kindly request that silverware and straws not be included in your to-go order.
  • Buy in bulk. Bring your own containers to the grocery store to utilize the bulk section. It’s easy! Just weigh your empty container to mark the starting weight, add your desired bulk item, and then mark the product code.
  • Re-use glass bottles from grocery items like salsa, tomato sauce, jelly and more, so that you can put your leftovers in glass, rather than disposable plastic storage containers.
  • Bring your own water bottle and coffee cup with you when you leave for the day. You never know when you might need them.
  • Carry reusable shopping bags. We recommend storing some in your car, purse, or backpack so you’re never without.
  • Skip the plastic bags in the produce section. Instead, purchase a set of reusable produce bags.
  • Have fun with it! Challenge yourself to find plastic-free versions of your favorite items or foods. Need some ideas? Try unwrapped waxed cheese wheels. Bring your own container to the restaurant, deli counter, or butcher. Make your own yogurt or granola bars. Skip the tea bags and buy from bulk instead.
IT’S PLASTIC-FREE JULY: This blog post is part of MADE SAFE’s participation in Plastic-Free July. Watch us on social media for more on plastics. And click here to read our blog post on plastic in wipes.


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