Travelling this summer in Europe (Spain actually) I was shocked at the preponderance of bottled water. Plastic bottled water everywhere. I carried a water flask. But that didn’t help at restaurants and it was hard to find places to refill it. By the time I was home I’d had enough.
When I got home friends were sharing the campaign for a plastic free July. See here. “Joining the challenge is quite simple…choose to refuse single-use plastic during July. Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the problems with single-use disposable plastic and challenges people to do something about it. You’ll be joining a million+ people world-wide from 130 countries in making a difference.”
Why? There’s been lots in the news lately about the environmental impact of plastic and I’ve been feeling pretty doom-y and gloomy about the future of the planet and our continued existence on it. This was something I could do. See A million bottles a minute: world’s plastic binge ‘as dangerous as climate change’
“A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change. New figures obtained by the Guardian reveal the surge in usage of plastic bottles, more than half a trillion of which will be sold annually by the end of the decade.”
It’s not that I think individuals taking action is the answer but paying attention to my own actions connects me to the larger cause and keeps the environment in my focus. I also feel less helpless.
I decided to make single use plastic take a way items my focus. No more water bottles, plastic cutlery, and plastic cold beverage containers. I’d already bought washable cutlery and cold beverage washable tumblers and considered myself ready to go. My summer purse (or “hippie side bag” as the kids call it) is starting to feel like a giant picnic hamper around my neck but I am managing.
Straws are an issue and people keep handing them to me. Some people have made the elimination of plastic straws their focus. Sarah bought us each a reusable one and we’ve been carrying them with us. At least they don’t add much weight to the hippie side bag.
So far I’ve faced two challenges, one fitness related and one not.
The non-fitness challenge is ice cream. It’s vaguely calorie and food related. I don’t like ice cream cones and years ago I decided they were empty needless calories. Also, when ice cream is in cones I tend to eat it too quickly because I hate drips. But now I have the plastic cups and spoons to deal with so, for July at least, it’s back to cones. (I’ve been feeding them to my dog.)
The fitness challenge is food and drink during bike rides. I’m not about to start filling my jersey pockets with reusable cutlery and cups. Twice now I’ve landed at a bakery after a long ride and had to use plastic cups. I wasn’t about to not drink iced coffee. After I thought about it having it put in my cycling water bottle but that’s not a good solution either. I wish places used non-plastic cups. It’s not like we were taking the coffee to go.
Here’s our bikes at rest at the Black Walnut Bakery, a favourite place to stop after rides. Here’s hoping they start offering cold beverages in glasses.