We all know the general issues with single-use plastics, but it is always staggering to revisit some of the statistics, and good to share solutions we can implement personally, and within our communities. One of the Holistic Moms Network's Guiding Principles is teaching our children to respect and care about the natural world. Another is living more simply and consuming less in an effort to reduce our impact on the environment and to emphasize non-material values. Teaching our kids about the issues with plastic, and how to reduce our use, as well as how to help bring change, is an important piece of these principles.
Did you know....
  • Every piece of plastic that's ever been created still exists in the world
  • 79% has accumulated in landfills or in the natural environment, 12% has been incinerated, 9% has been recycled
  • We go through 10 billion plastic bags worldwide every week
  • Microplastics have been reported in food for human consumption. The average person could be eating up to 5 grams of plastic a week, about the weight of a credit card. Read more about it here
  • Microplastics may also be inhaled and have been found in human organs and revealed in the placentas of unborn babies.
Plastic Free July is a key initiative of the Plastic Free Foundation started back in 2011. We can start by taking the challenge and learning about simple ways to get started reducing our single use plastic consumption (like the big 4: plastic bags, drink bottles, coffee cups, and straws). Already taken those first steps? Here are some other ways to help move the needle in the right direction.
What more can we do?
  • We know plastic bags are a huge issue. There are 77 countries in the world that have passed some sort of full or partial ban on plastic bags. We have a long way to go though, and the U.S. lacks country-wide bans or fees on plastic bag. Check out this map for what's happening in the world currently, and then find out where your state, city, and/or town stands. Petition your governing body to make a change.
  • Engage your community. Your local HMN community is a great place to start. Combining and sharing the collective knowledge your HMN local chapter members already have, can have a big impact. So many of us already DIY personal products, or use reusable snack containers, package-free soaps and shampoos, reusable sanitary items, or practice bulk food shopping. Sharing our journeys, the specifics of how we made changes, and what we use, can make it easier for others to take those steps as well. Organize an HMN event that helps educate others outside of your HMN community as well!
  • Get involved, or encourage your children to, at your kids' schools. Join the sustainability committee or environmental club. If there isn't one start one! Hold a plastic free lunch day. Or help a school event go plastic free. If you homeschool you can do the same with any co-ops you may be a part of. Start small, and the changes can snowball, and spread to the school community's everyday lives. Here are some more ideas.
  • Think about your clothing, both what you bring into your home, and how you care for it. Fabrics made from polyester, nylon, and acrylic contain plastics. Up to 64% of new fabrics are made of plastic! Every time we wash them they shed millions of plastic microfibres that end up in our oceans. Besides trying to stick with natural fibers as much as possible, we can also work to reduce the shedding of tiny plastic bits. Try taking these 8 steps shared at the end of this article by Friends of the Earth.
  • Potentially the biggest impact we can have? Buy less. Mindfully shop and make purchases. Stop and think about the low or no waste options. Consider the packaging of an item. If you need to buy new clothes, buy natural fibers like cotton. Organize, or find a swap, and get secondhand anything whenever you can. Find your local Buy Nothing group online, or start one.
It can feel overwhelming when we look at the big picture and the sheer prevalence of plastics in our world and in our lives. Regularly committing to taking steps to reduce our single plastic use personally, one piece at a time, and sharing our progress with others, really can make a big difference.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu