The Plight of Plastic

In honour of Plastic Free July, a month where people are encouraged to avoid and reduce their plastic usage, we’re going to get down to the facts of plastic!  As Earth Rangers, we know that plastic causes many issues for the environment and for wildlife. It is often ingested by various animals and aquatic organisms which causes many issues for their digestive system.  Not only is plastic made out of chemicals that are toxic to animals, but organisms with full bellies of plastic often starve as they believe they are no longer hungry, when in reality they have received no real nutrients needed to survive.  Additionally, these harmful toxins and chemicals leach into water and soil causing contamination. Plastic pollution also acts as a carrier for harmful bacteria that can make animals sick.

But what exactly is plastic pollution?

Plastic pollution comes in all different forms; wrappers, food and beverage containers, fishing nets, foam, microplastics and microfibers!  Unfortunately, once produced, plastic does not decompose. This means that it ends up in the environment in one form or another. It can be found almost everywhere – in our waterways, in our soil and throughout our ecosystems.  Single use plastics such as straws, coffee stirrers or plastic bags are the worst kind of plastic possible!  They have an extremely short life, usually used once before they are thrown away, most often ending up in a landfill or as litter. So for the month of July, we want to encourage you to take the pledge: do your best to stop using Single Use Plastics whenever you can. Download the Cut the SUP tracker to get started and take the pledge by clicking on the link below

Photo: Bo Eide

What can you do about it?

By reducing the amount of plastic used in your household, you can make a surprisingly big difference – especially for your local environment!  Luckily for us, there are tons of alternatives for single use plastics nowadays.  Read the list below to hear about some of the simple swaps you can make to reduce your plastic footprint:

  • Avoid plastic bags at all costs! Bring your own reusable bag to grocery stores, or when you are out shopping.
  • Say no to single use utensils! Bring a set of reusable utensils from home to avoid using plastic forks, spoons, knives and straws.
  • Always remember your reusable water bottle! Make sure you fill it up and bring it with you when you leave the house.
  • Try to shop with as zero waste as possible! But how? Head to a local bulk food store with reusable jars, containers and bags to source your pantry staples, snacks and treats with no waste.
  • Use reusable produce bags! Bring your own produce bags to grocery stores or farmer’s markets to avoid the single use version.  You can either buy reusable produce bags or make your own with scrap material.
  • Try not to buy plastic jugs of juice. Did you know you can get frozen cans of juice at most grocery stores? These cans are made out of cardboard and metal, can be recycled, but most importantly, are a largely reduced packaging size compared to our typical plastic jugs of juice. Mix with water and keep your juice in a reusable jug instead to significantly reduce your waste.
  • Use a bamboo toothbrush. There are many plastic toothbrushes polluting the environment owing to the fact that they take one thousand years to decompose, use a biodegradable option instead!
  • Shop secondhand. When shopping for clothes, electronics, furniture, books and more, try and source them secondhand to avoid waste and decrease your consumption.  There are many perfectly good products already on the planet in need of a new home!
  • Use reusable beeswax wraps. Single use cling wrap is very wasteful.  Beeswax wraps are not only reusable, but they are also compostable at the end of their life!
  • Invest in a good set of reusable containers. Reusable containers come in handy for packing your own lunch (which also avoids extra packaging!), shopping in bulk and for saving leftovers. They can be very handy when attempting to reduce your waste!

Want to learn more about how you can reduce your plastic consumption?  Accept the More Plastic More Problems Mission on the Earth Rangers App for more tips, tricks and activities! Not to mention, when you accept this mission, you will receive a special avatar item; an Earth Rangers reusable water bottle! Keep it up Earth Rangers, and make a difference in your day to day.