Summer trickles into our lives on warm breezes, bringing the rare simplicity and slowness of the season. We visit with friends often, eat more fruit, take the time for an evening beer on the porch, let our minds wander, and embrace the child-like energy that fills the balmy, sweet air. Nature is dressed in her finest- lush green leaves, wildflowers erupting in vibrant colors, crystalline streams glimmering. This season of deliberateness and ease is the perfect time to welcome Plastic Free July.
This month 120 million people around the world will be reducing their plastic footprint by refusing single-use plastics or attempting to go completely plastic free. The historian and activist Howard Zinn once said, “We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” This July our intentional, daily decisions to cut plastic out of our lives will be amplified by millions of other people making the same conscious decisions.
As consumers, we may feel small and inconsequential. But we are mighty. We are mightier still when we act together. I encourage you to eliminate single-use plastics from your routine this month, or attempt to go completely plastic free. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to try. Every day, from the moment you wake up, you make choices that reflect what you value. Choose to value the swath of pine trees you mountain bike through on dewy mornings, that beach in Thailand with turquoise water that you want to visit on vacation, the family of merganser ducks you watch paddle across the pond by your house. Choose to value nature and sustainability over convenience.
Voting with your dollar means taking a stand to economically show what you support. In a capitalist country, what you buy is a direct reflection of what you think, feel, and value. Refusing to buy single-use plastics, products with excessive plastic packaging, or even items made with any plastic at all sends a message to large corporations that consumers do not want what they are offering. Companies sell us what we want to buy. If we raise our voices and our wallets collectively to say “we don’t want plastic anymore”, they will listen.
This July bring your reusable water bottle with you to work. Pack a to-go kit for your car with silverware, a coffee cup, a water bottle, Tupperware, and a metal straw so you are prepared to refuse plastic. Buy bread from your local bakery instead of the plastic-wrapped bread at the grocery store. Support brands that use recycled materials. Buy a head of lettuce instead of pre-chopped lettuce that comes in a plastic sealed bag. Order your ice cream in a cone instead of a cup. Wrap someone’s birthday present in colorful pages from an old magazine instead of buying wrapping paper and plastic bows. Be creative, be intentional, and be assured that your conscientious decisions to avoid plastic are making a big difference. Your voice is not alone, it is part of a chorus that is rising in harmony to sing the simple song, “no more plastic.”