Have you ever heard of Plastic Free July? It is a free, worldwide challenge to avoid single-use plastics during the month of July, and hopefully for longer. That may sound overwhelming but it’s easier than you think! You can start with just one goal, like choosing package-free products or ones packaged in glass, tin, or cardboard when you are shopping, for example. This packaging is more effectively recycled and is more environmentally friendly to create in the first place. You can also reuse these items more easily around the house.
As you probably know, plastic pollution in our waterways is a huge problem. It increases flood risks to neighborhoods by getting trapped in drains, can be ingested by or entangle wildlife, causes water quality issues, and is an unsightly view when we are enjoying Galveston Bay.
At Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF) and Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), we are always striving to reduce our waste, save energy, and operate daily in a way that protects Galveston Bay. The new GBF property in Kemah has rain barrels and special permeable parking spots to reduce run-off, plus a plastic-free drinking water system to ensure staff never needs single-use plastic water bottles. HARC has replaced single-use plastics with compostable alternatives and has achieved net-zero energy use with solar and power saving technologies! Both organizations landscape with native plants and the staff practice plastic reduction and recycling around the office. We have even reduced waste at our events by using large reusable coolers for drinks and reusable trash bags for shoreline cleanups. But there is always more we can do!
GBF staff will be challenging themselves to avoid single-use plastics throughout the month of July. Different staff members will choose a few items to tackle. My most important challenge will be requesting no plastic bags or plastic utensils are included when I order takeout from my favorite local restaurants.
What will your challenge be? Remember small changes can make a big difference. Here are some ideas from Plastic Free July to get started! You can save this image, check off your challenges, and keep it somewhere visible as a reminder.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Sustainable Sasha’s video from Earth Day that has tons of great ideas for reusable alternatives to single-use plastic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTfE70iMzJ8
Here’s the follow-up blog post with links to where to buy some of these alternatives, including Sustainable Sasha’s small business favorites: https://galvbay.org/recycling-tips-from-sustainable-sasha/
Follow GBF’s Facebook page throughout the month for Plastic Free July content, tips, tricks, and staff challenges: https://www.facebook.com/GalvestonBayFoundation/
Check out the Plastic Free July website when you’re ready to take the challenge so you can track your own progress too! https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/take-the-challenge/