As we become more conscious as a society, more and more causes are gaining presence by focusing on certain months to advocate and raise awareness. July is Plastic Free Month. As an environmentalist, I’ll be celebrating and advocating for this important cause.
My love of nature sprouted early on. Growing up, my summers consisted of family camping trips, bike rides, and spending as much time outdoors as possible. My mother was the type that forced us to go outside and play if it was a nice day out. I am so thankful for that. Now as an adult woman, I find this still ingrained in me with my daily runs, walks, and weekend hikes.
A lot of people could say that they had similar childhoods. So what turned me into a eco warrior who buys at co-ops, composts, and is a part of the zero-waste mission? The big answer? My health.
During college, a series of events lead me to sever mental illnesses and an eating disorder. I was extremely depressed, I would spend all day in bed. I had a general apathy towards my life. My anxiety was also so bad that I had panic attacks in grocery stores, would socially isolate myself, and had horribly low self-worth. Pills and medication did nothing but make me feel foggy. It felt like I was putting a band-aid over a gash. It wasn’t really fixing my problems.
I got to such a low point in my physical and mental health that I went into a recovery program. It was there that I learned about healthy tools such as mindfulness. One of the main ways that I practiced this was through my walks in nature. Nature instantly grounded me, dissolving my anxiety and soothing my soul. I found joy again in the simplicity and unexpectedness of nature. From observing a flower to stumbling across a family of deer, nature helped heal me from my mental illnesses. It floods me with peace, joy, and awe when I am outdoors.
Aside from this personal experience, nature sustains this planet. From the air we breathe, water we drink, and food we eat, we could not survive without her. That is why it is so important to protect and preserve the earth.
Let’s be honest, the earth has taken a beating. From climate change, deforestation, overfishing…we have NOT been treating her with kindness. One of the biggest things we have done to harm her is through our plastic waste. This is why the zero-waste movement has taken flight. The cause to reduce plastic can be greatly impactful.
Benefits Behind being Waste Free
Helping the Environment
You know that reducing your waste is better for the environment...but do you know by how much? Here are just a few staggering facts about waste:
2.5 billion tons of waste are produced each year in the world. Of that, 150 million tons end up into our oceans.
By 2050 it is estimated that there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish. That's a mere thirty years away, which means in our life time!
Nearly 700 different species of marine life are threatened due to ocean waste.
It's estimated that 30-50% of the food produced for human consumption gets wasted globally each year
That equates to 4 billion tons of food waste per year.
In America, 140 million tons of waste end up in our landfills.
I don't know about you, but I can't even comprehend what a million tons of trash look like, let alone a billion. But I know that if I can't even imagine what that looks like, it's not a good picture of the scale of severity with our world's waste issue.
Helping the Economy
People are surprised to know that reducing their waste not only helps the environment, but is good for the economy as well. There are tons of energy costs savings in recycling vs producing new. For example, it uses 95% less energy to use a recycled aluminum can than manufacturing a new one. It also helps the workforce. Through other methods of reducing, reusing, and recycling, 10x more jobs are created.
Helping Fight Corruption
So aside from a lot of big brand products using plastic packaging and waste, a lot of them have low morals. Companies like Nestle, Coca Cola, and Tide have been involved in shady things like the murder of Union workers in South America, to scamming developing nations with false products, and supporting prison labor. Many environmentally conscious companies don’t just stop at helping the planet, they also support worker’s rights, practice fair trading, and focus on making positive changes across the board.
On a more personal level, someone can choose to reduce for many reasons. Are you sensitive to chemicals and want to live a more natural life? Do you love surfing and hate seeing the beaches filled with trash? Are you looking to save some extra $$$? Everyone can find a way how reducing their waste is important and can benefit them.
Concerns About Going Zero Waste
"I Could Never Do it"
Now while the idea of fitting your entire year's trash into a mason jar seems impossible, I'm here to tell you that, well...you're probably right. It might seem crazy to do at first. But like any journey, it starts with steps. Making a conscious effort isn't always easy, especially when shifting to different ways of thinking and living. Be kind to yourself and know that the goal is to reduce waste. Every day you're taking part in this effort and striving to improve.
"Isn't it a bit extreme? "
Like many 'radical' (or as I see it often, passionate) ideas around causes, it can seem extreme because it puts us out of our normalcy. It shakes up our way of living and opens our eyes to a new perspective, one that is empowering. Going Zero Waste is so empowering because you know you're making positive choices to better the planet. You are also advocating and voting with your dollar, letting companies know that you have a say in how you spend your money, and you want to focus on products that help rather than harm the earth.
"How will I do it?"
You're not going to go from disposable razors and wrapped to-go sandwiches to carrying bamboo utensils and stainless steel water bottles overnight. This lifestyle shift can be inconvenient at first. Forgot your reusable bag at home again? Grabbed a plastic fork at the PCC salad bar? Again, be easy on yourself. It takes a while (at least 21 days for a habit to form). These inconveniences will start to turn into smaller issues overtime once these shifts start sticking.
If you've made it through this lengthy post thus far, I congratulate you and ask you to take your interest one step further....challenge yourself to try it! Yes you heard me, try going waste-free! Don't worry, you're not alone...
For the month of July (which is Plastic Free July to those Zero-Wasters), I'm hosting a zero-waste challenge. Bee Waste Free is my challenge to you in taking the steps towards a less wasteful life.
Throughout this month long challenge, I'll be sharing easy ways to implement a more waste free life. I'll also be challenging you to stretch out of your plastic bubble (it is a challenge after all).
Not only will this challenge be rewarding (who doesn't like saving the earth?) but fun! This is an engagement based challenge where were we are building our collective hive of activists, healers, and healthy livers.
Rules to Challenge
Get your Bee Waste Free Challenge Calendar
Do the daily tasks/goals. Each task is ranked on a point basis. Do them all to gain the most points for your chance to win.
Check the Bee Waste Free Challenge Calendar each week, as these are updated weekly.
Aside from the reward of being a good human, there is a prize involved! One person will win a zero-waste basket of goodies. I’ve teamed up with local Washington businesses who also value the waste free mission.
Patchouli Lavender Organic Lotion Bar from Wild Elixirs Shop
5 Natural Loofahs from DetoxEarth
A stash of zero-waste kitchen products (tea infuser, metal straw, and reusable produce bag) from Honey Lune Hivery
I encourage you to sign up and take part in this challenge! Remember, reducing your waste is a journey, but it doesn't start unless you take the first step.