Kick-Off Plastic Free July With An At-Home Plastic Audit
After a successful World Oceans Month, we are excited to participate in Plastic Free July – a global movement designed to help millions of people prevent more plastic pollution. Plastic, a non-sustainable material, poses a threat to the health of marine life, human life and our blue planet.
This month, join us in celebrating Plastic Free July and challenge yourself to avoid using as many disposable plastic items as possible.
The Problem With Plastic
Plastic is a synthetic material, meaning it is human-made from chemicals derived from oil, natural gas, and coal, all of which are non-renewable resources. Because of its complex combination, once created, it is never able to re-enter the natural environment or “biodegrade.” Instead plastic breaks down over time into smaller and smaller pieces turning into micoplastics.
Whether it’s in our ocean or on land, plastic never leaves our planet. In fact, almost every single piece of plastic created still exists in some form. Not only has plastic entered our food chain at the lowest level with microscopic plankton, it has also been found in table salt, drinking water, snow, and even as dust at our National Parks. Most bodies of water are connected to the ocean, meaning that even if you don’t live near the ocean, your plastic waste can still pollute it.
Because of its durable nature, plastic can create long-lasting items, however, 50% of the plastics items are to be easily disposed of. For instance, over 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic has been created in the past 60 years, and out of that, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste (Geyer et. al 2017). While these disposable plastic items may be convenient, they are designed to be used for 10 minutes, a month, or maybe even a year and then thrown away.
While recycling is an excellent practice for items made from glass and metal (these materials can be endlessly recycled ), plastic cannot be endlessly recycled. When plastic is recycled, the polymers that hold the material together become broken down, making the plastic less and less durable each time it’s made into something new. Typically, plastic items can be recycled two to three times to make a new product before the material is too fragile to be recycled again. Each time it’s recycled, it releases toxins and chemicals into the water that’s used to repurpose the material, making this process far from sustainable.
Additionally, an estimated 8.5 million metric tons of plastic enters our ocean every year. While floating in the ocean, plastic absorbs all the toxins and chemicals it encounters. When an animal, such as a sea turtle, ingests plastic (often mistaking it for food), it also ingests the toxins and chemicals that the plastic has absorbed. As plastic makes its way up the food chain the chemicals and toxins become more and more potent – a process classified as bioaccumulation. Because of the intensified chemical buildup, plastic poses an extreme threat to marine and human life.
Be Part of the Solution: At-Home Plastic Audit
This Plastic Free July, take small steps for sustainability! Instead of using single-use plastic items, opt for sustainable swaps. When consumers decline to use or purchase plastic, it pressures companies to create change and offer more sustainable solutions. To help you streamline a more sustainable lifestyle, we have created an at-home plastic audit to help you recognize and eliminate disposable plastic items in your home. Our audit specifically focuses on items we commonly find during our conservation efforts (read more about these items in our Plastic Pollution: Sorting It Out blog).
To best utilize this at-home audit, follow the steps below:
- Use our Plastic Waste Audit and Sustainability Swaps Guide.
- Start with your kitchen or bathroom (often home of many disposable plastic items). Look around the room (in drawers, in cabinets, etc.) and see what disposable plastic items you may have in your home that are on our commonly found plastic items list.
- Use a potential survey item to its greatest capability if you happen to have one of the disposable plastic items.
- After identifying the product, check the list of sustainable alternatives provided. Find one that works best for you! Replacing even one item on the list with a sustainable alternative can prevent thousands of plastic items from entering landfills in your lifetime.
As consumers, we have the power to make waves of change for sustainability! This Plastic Free July, vow to purchase items from brands that make sustainability a priority by utilizing alternatives to plastics.
Thank you for your dedication to ocean conservation!
Loggerhead Marinelife Center. Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) is a nonprofit sea turtle research, rehabilitation, and educational institution that promotes conservation of ocean ecosystems with a focus on threatened and endangered sea turtles. The Center features an on-site hospital, research laboratory, educational exhibits, and aquariums, and also operates the Juno Beach Pier, which hosts world-class angling and sightseeing. Situated on one of the world’s most important sea turtle nesting beaches, Loggerhead Marinelife Center is open daily and hosts over 360,000 guests free-of-charge each year. The Center’s conservation team works with 90 local and international organizations across six continents to form partnerships and share conservation initiatives and best practices that are core to its mission of ocean conservation. The Center is expanding and has launched its Waves of Progress capital expansion campaign, designed to accelerate and amplify LMC’s conservation and education impact. For more information, visit www.marinelife.org or call (561) 627-8280.