Plastic Free July

In May I travelled back to Hawaiʻi with my Mama for her birthday. Knowing that we would eat all over the island I packed my reusable bamboo utensils and metal straws. Every beach we sat at I collected the plastic bits around me and documented it on my instagram. I got so much positive response that I decided to take on a bigger initiative towards the cause when I got home.

When I came home my friends Amanda and Vanessa were at Humber Bay and noticed how horribly polluted the beach was with plastic. So a few of us set out to spend a Saturday morning and afternoon cleaning the beach. It was disheartening to see this part of a Toronto waterfront. We cleaned SO much yet it felt like we barely made a dent. There were layers and layers of styrofoam which seemed to make up more of the beach than the rocks themselves. The common theme of most plastic items we picked up were: plastic straws, plastic bottle lids, 50+ plastic tampon applicators, plastic lighters and many other scary things.

I dare you to just spend one normal day counting the amount of plastic things you touch. Then remind yourself that the plastic you encountered that day will still be on this planet for another 1000 years... 10 lifetimes. Its so hard to wrap your head around that isn't it? Sure, that particular item will no longer be in its original form but it will degrade into micro particles of plastic that will end up in the Earth one way or another, poisoning all living creatures, including us humans. Now take this perspective and think about single use plastics to make it even worse. We create plastic products - out of petroleum - to be used ONCE yet it lasts 1000 years. How does any of this make sense? It doesn't.
 

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Before we get started on how to reduce plastic consumption I want to state that I am not perfect and I don't expect you to be either. Unfortunately most of us can't live a waste-free life given our living situations, jobs, and sometimes we just forget and that is OK but we can try our best, right? Every little bit counts, I promise.
So here is my attempt to inspire you to use as little plastic in your daily life as possible.

Bring your own reusable utensils

I pack a bamboo spoon, fork, knife and metal straw inside of a cotton napkin that I throw in my bag as I leave for the day. Another easy thing to carry is simply a set of chop sticks, they practically take up no space and are also inexpensive to buy a few sets so that you can keep them in several places like work, car, bag, etc.

 

Plastic remains toxic even after it breaks down. It doesn’t biodegrade, it photo-degrades. it breaks down into smaller toxic bits which bleeds and contaminates the environment along with all living creatures.

 

Go #topless4oceans  when you're at the coffee shop

Don't worry, you don't have to expose yourself at the coffee shop, ha! Skip the plastic lids and pointless straws while you're at it! Honestly though, straws are a novelty item, there is no actual purpose! Most of the time you can get by without taking a lid if you've forgotten your reusable cup, drink some off the top before you take off and you're set.

Better yet, bring your own cup! I have three reusable cups that I love.  
The first is a double walled glass cup with soft silicone lid. I received this as a gift and had this one for years and it's surprisingly durable even though it feels like thin glass. I like using that when I know I will be buying smaller drinks. The pink one in the middle is a Corkcicle 16oz tumbler and better for tea lattes or iced drinks that take up more space. Its also perfect for places that serve kombucha on tap. Its triple wall insulated keeping my drinks cold/hot for so much longer than it takes me to finish a drink and has a lid with a sliding cover over the hole so I can put it in my cup holder on my bicycle while I ride.
The last one is a 28oz Mizu bottle that I picked up in San Diego at the cutest shop called Pigment. This bottle kept my coconut water as cold as when it was pulled out of the fridge even though it sat in a scorching hot car and on the beach in Hawai'i. I love this bottle the most because it contains zero plastic parts, the lid is entirely stainless steel and the quality is amazing on this bottle. 

Bottled water

I'm going to try to keep this short and sweet but there is so much to be said about bottled water. Did you know...

1) Plastic toxins like BPA leech into the water, especially if the bottle is exposed to sun light. Which then enters your body mimicking estrogen like hormones creating an huge list of health problems like cancer. NO THANKS.
2) Bottled water companies destroy/take away clean water supplies from small communities.
3) Why are you paying for tap water? Tap water is tested A LOT more than bottled water.
4) It requires 4 times the amount of water to produce one plastic bottle than the water that actually goes into the bottle.
5) It takes 17 million barrels of oil to produce plastic bottles yearly. This could fuel 1 million cars for a year

Time for a nice reusable bottle, no? I love throwing fresh mint, lemon and fruit into my water. Liquid mint chlorophyll also tastes amazingly refreshing in a bottle of water.

 

In the North Pacific Ocean, there are 6x more plastic debris than plankton.

 
When wildlife ingests plastic whether it thinks its food or it cannot even see the plastic as it's turned into micro particles they die of toxicity and end up with bellies full of plastic. The toxicity of this plastic bio-accumulates in the flesh of these animals and then humans are eating concentrated amounts of plastic toxins. This is one of the major reasons that I refuse to eat seafood.

When wildlife ingests plastic whether it thinks its food or it cannot even see the plastic as it's turned into micro particles they die of toxicity and end up with bellies full of plastic. The toxicity of this plastic bio-accumulates in the flesh of these animals and then humans are eating concentrated amounts of plastic toxins. This is one of the major reasons that I refuse to eat seafood.

B.Y.O.B: Bring your own bag

I'm sure you have a few of these laying around. Find a space near your front door so they're easy to grab on your way out or keep a set in your car or at your work. There are SO many types of reusable bags these days that it has become extremely convenient to use. There are teeny tiny ones that pack down into almost nothing that resemble the typical grocery store plastic bags. There are insulated bags that are super handy for cold items. And who doesn't love a good canvas tote bag? I prefer to stick to the canvas totes as they don't create more petroleum waste and they also wash and age well. 

Did you know that lots of health food stores and now even Bulk Barn allows you to bring your own jars to fill up on bulk items? You simply bring a clean container, have the cashier weigh it for you so that they can give you a sticker and tare it after you've filled it, fill up and proceed to cash out as usual! More info on their Reusable Container Program here.

 

5 trillion plastic bags are produced yearly. Side by side, they can encircle the world 7 times.

 

Pack your own lunch

Ok this might be tough for some people but makes such a big impact on so many levels like the environment, a huge amount of waste reduction, saves a ton of money and most importantly your personal health. 
When I pack my own lunches I use stainless steel leakproof containers as they are the lightest to travel with (I commute on my bicycle so glass can be quite heavy). In the fridge at home for food storage I use my glass containers. I made these choices purely based on personal health. The less plastic touching my food the less toxins are leeching into my food and contaminating me. I don't use any plastic food containers or plastic wrap for that matter. I recently discovered Uashmama washable paper bags that are made in Italy. They are high quality reusable bags that are perfect for sandwich bags, lunch bags, shopping bags, produce storage bags and so much more. The small bag above voids the need to use plastic sandwich bags - its perfect for dry snacks or even a sandwich because you can wash it!

 

Plastic will only start degrading after 700 years and will only fully degrade in 1000 years. This means that all the plastic that has ever been produced has not degraded yet.

 

I hope this has inspired you to try a month of as much plastic reduction as you possibly can! 

If you're in the Toronto area please come out this weekend to the Surf The Greats beach clean up + yoga event for the Beside Magazine launch!
Meet at Ashbridges Bay (Woodbine Beach)
9:00am Arrivals
9:30–10:15am Beach Yoga (Bring Your Own Mat)
10:15am–12pm Beach Clean-up
12–4pm BBQ & BESIDE Magazine 02 Launch at Surf the Greats
2:00pm Live set by Ryan Bonner
More info here

Some of my fave resources:
Life Without Plastic
Its Not OK
5 Minute Beach Cleanup
Wildlife and plastic: disturbing amounts of plastics found inside of animals
More Ocean Less Plastic

On Netflix, a must watch to add to your list:

 
Banzai Pipeline, North Shore of Oahu

Banzai Pipeline, North Shore of Oahu

 
Peace Hike, Ohau Hawaiʻi

Peace Hike, Ohau Hawaiʻi

 

"Change is possible and it starts with us"