“It’s not a world without plastic, it’s a world without plastic waste”
-Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, Plastic Free July Founder
You may have noticed more reusable coffee cups and tote bags than usual across your social media in the last couple of weeks. This month is Plastic Free July, run by the Plastic Free Foundation out of Western Australia. Since its humble beginning in 2011, it has grown into a global movement with people everywhere committing to start “plastic-free” habits.
Studies show that it takes on average 21 days for a habit to form. By consciously committing to creating habits around reducing plastic consumption throughout the entire month, you could reduce your own plastic waste beyond the month of July and for the entire year. The initiative has been so successful in recent years that thousands of communities around the world now participate every year, and as of last year, Plastic Free July was able to reduce 2.1 million tonnes of waste. It just goes to show that by coming together as a global community, every choice really can make a difference.
Read more about Plastic Free July and their impact here.
As our own contribution to Plastic Free July, we thought we would share a few things that you may not have known have plastic in them and the alternatives that our team likes to use instead.
Not only does gum itself contain polyethylene and sometimes even polyisobutylene (the same plastic used in car tires!), but the packaging it comes in is most often made of plastic. A great alternative is carrying mints around instead. You can usually get way more of them per tin than sticks of gum, they do the same job, and the tin can either be reused to store tiny treasures or recycled afterward.
Several months ago while working together in a cafe/co-working space, Meagan begrudgingly spent what at the time seemed like far too much on a tin of mints to combat her coffee breath as there was no gum for sale. After several weeks, it became a running joke that the mints were the gift that just kept on giving. There were way more mints in the tin than what is usually offered in just a pack of gum, they did not leave a funny aftertaste, she always had enough to share, and on top of that, they were organic. Unfortunately as of last week she officially ran out - she does plan on restocking as she “grew fond of the jingling sound they would make in her bag” while she walked, and has claimed she will never go back to regular gum.
Cans and Tetra Paks
We all know that plastic water bottles are extremely damaging to the environment. But did you know that aluminum cans are lined with a resin called epoxy to keep the metal from corroding? Tetra Paks are also lined with sneaky plastic between layers of cardboard and aluminum that cannot be recycled in all facilities and are very difficult to separate.
You will never catch Inder without his teakwood-printed S’well bottle. Never.
The obvious solution: keep a reusable bottle on you at all times, and use it to carry around any and all beverages. Bonus points for a bottle that is insulated to keep your hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. Inder’s favourite is his S’well bottle, which he keeps on him 24/7.
Paper Coffee Cups
Paper coffee cups are an every-day-item that many people believe to be recyclable. In reality, the paper cup is lined with a very thin layer of plastic to keep the coffee from seeping through. There are lots of not only convenient but also design-forward reusable mugs available now, and there are cafés that actually encourage their customers to bring their own reusable cups in exchange for a small discount on their drink. A few of our favorites are Huskee and KeepCup, but at the end of the day, the best reusable coffee cup is the one you already have.
Huskee Cups, originally from Australia, makes reusable coffee mugs out of coffee bean husks. They have implemented a very interesting swapping program. To participate, coffee shops purchase a “float” of unbranded huskee mugs, while also carrying the cups for retail sale. Customers become “members” of the voluntary swap program by simply returning any Huskee cup and lid to a participating cafe. They are then served their beverage in a Huskee cup that has been machine-washed by the cafe. The Huskee Swapping program has now been adopted by cafes all over the world.
Synthetic Clothing, or clothes made of synthetic fibers, can be more damaging to the environment than one would think. When washed, synthetic fibers break apart and microplastics make their way into our waterways and then into every corner of our ecosystem.
At BEDI, our knits are made of 100% cotton that is sustainably farmed in North Carolina. As cotton is a natural fiber, it is not damaging to the environment and is biodegradable. If you don’t have time to wash your clothes by hand and are using a machine, we recommend washing your clothes in a cold water cycle and using a natural detergent, as well as hanging everything to dry.
Our knits are made of a heavyweight 100% cotton, and get softer with every wear. Make sure to check out all of the colours we still have available.
Although July is coming to an end, it’s not too late to try implementing plastic-free habits in your day-to-day. To ease into it, start small - choose a reusable mug that you really love holding, get a tote bag that you know you will never forget because you like the style - and see how long you can go for. Chances are, if you do it right, the habit will stick for life. If we all come together and make small lifestyle changes, they will add up, and we can make a big impact on our environment for the better.