Plastic Free July!

Hooray! It's Plastic Free July!

The COVID-19 Pandemic has led to a huge increase in the amount of single use plastic, and plastic waste, in our communities. With many cleanup programs on hold, the plastic litter is becoming more noticeable. And if there was ever a time to be worried about the decreased air quality and health impacts associated with ramped up plastic production, it's now! 

It can feel overwhelming when you are out shopping and getting take out to think about how to stick to your plastic free lifestyle with so much going on in the world, but don't worry! You can do it with a few simple steps!

1. Join the Plastic Free July movement by visiting http://www.plasticfreejuly.org ! The challenge is full of easy tips and ideas to help you take small steps to reducing your own plastic waste!

2. Avoid plastic bags! Yes, we know that single use plastic bags have made their comeback at many grocery stores due to lack of enforcement, but with the exception of Trader Joes (who uses paper bags only), you CAN bring reusable bags to the supermarket with you again. For bulk items and produce, please choose the brown mushroom bags instead of plastic bags, if you are not allowed to bring mesh bags with you. 

3. Reusable cups! Recent scientific data shows that there is limited evidence for COVID-19 transmission through reusable cups and bags, but many cafes are understandably nervous and choosing the right thing by protecting the health of their employees. However, there are many independent cafes that will allow you to bring in your cup. Offer to hold the cup on your own, or leave it at the end of the counter, allowing them to pour coffee and/or ice straight into your cup without having to touch it. Be kind, ask ahead of time, and if they say no, always be respectful. 

4. Decline straws, cutlery, and lids! Plastic straws have ALSO made a comeback lately, and Oregon law DOES require that you be asked if you want a straw, cutlery, or condiments. If you are not asked, be sure to include your request in your order "I do not need a straw or lid or cutlery." As always, you can bring all of these items with you to food carts or restaurants that are using disposable packaging and cutlery to serve you. Make it clear at the beginning, and they are generally happy to save these items for another customer (or not have to use them at all!) 

5. Be careful with the compostables! Remember, in Oregon, compostable serviceware is not permitted in your green bin or recycling bin. Be sure to put these items into the trash to avoid contamination at compost and recycling facilities. 

6. Wear a reusable mask! Masks and gloves are becoming a new, frequent source of litter in our communities and are already visible pollutants in our oceans and on our beaches. Invest in reusable masks that you can wash and wear! 

7. Organize your own litter pick up! Litter pickup sticks are handy. Dedicate a trash bag and gloves to your efforts and add a new fun component to your walks, or try a new hobby- Plogging! (Running and trash pickup at the same time!) 

And most importantly, remember to BE KIND to service workers, be understanding if they cannot accept your reusables, and WEAR A MASK!