The personal freedoms we enjoy in this country are central to our nationwide celebrations on July 4th. How about choosing this day to be FREE from single-use plastics?
As history would have it, the birthday of our great nation happens at the zenith of summer. It’s the ultimate outdoor holiday, a day when Americans love to take off and celebrate with family and community.Think of all the gatherings taking place across the whole country at ballparks, swimming pools, backyards and beaches, virtually every one of them involving lots of food and drink.
But what about the day after?
Now, close your eyes and think about it. The picnics are over, the fireworks are spent. Americans have returned to home and work and their daily routine. Picture those parks and beaches and what’s left behind from the celebrations. What do you see? Sadly, the next-day reality is a widespread trash heap of plastic cups, plates and utensils, cellophane and food wraps of every description, six-pack holders, sports drink and soda bottles, plastic bags and water bottles, bags, caps, twists….
Communities across the country confirm that it’s not a pretty sight.
One small coastal town in Washington reported over 75 tons of trash recovered from the beach in the aftermath of the holiday in 2015. Volunteers in San Diego County gathered on the morning of July 5th, 2016 to collect thousands of pounds of plastic, styrofoam, bottles, discarded personal items, etc. See the “Morning After Mess Totals” here. Go to almost any public park and see the same thing. Many Americans have fallen into an unfortunate delusion that when it comes to their own trash, it’s someone else’s job to take care of it. Here’s another chart from the Ocean Conservancy from last year.
What can we do?
We can do what Americans do best, the very reason we celebrate this day. We can CHOOSE to do it differently! Yes, the problem is vast and yes, there are multiple industries behind every aspect of this issue. But there is no industry forcing you to use disposable items. They might spend millions upon millions of dollars trying to convince you that you must, that convenience trumps common sense, that there is no other option. But ultimately you get to decide what to use or not use.
We challenge you this 4th of July to make some different choices regarding disposables and in particular, single-use plastics. If that sounds like too much, it’s okay. Maybe you can do just one thing to shift the scenario for yourself this holiday. Here are some basic ideas.
- Enjoying an outdoor meal at home with family and friends? Instead of the go-to disposable picnic ware and plastic utensils, just decide to use the real ones. Or if that’s not at all practical, try a compostable brand.
- Serve simple, homemade drinks from pitchers and provide real glasses. (see recipe below!)*
- Taking something to a covered dish gathering? Think twice before covering that dish with a sheet of plastic wrap that will go straight into the trash. A clean dishcloth usually works great.
- Take your own drink cup with you and say “no thanks” to those ubiquitous red, white and blue SOLO cups that blight the landscape.
- Whether you’re hosting a gathering, a guest somewhere or eating in a restaurant, skip the straw. Easy!
- Share what you’re doing. If anyone asks about your unique drinking cup or asks why in the world you wouldn’t use disposable plates and utensils for your picnic, tell them about Plastic Free July and why!
Okay, so maybe for whatever reason you don’t do any of the above. That’s okay too, because after reading this far, you are at least aware of the issue, aware that there is another way when you can and when you are ready to do things differently. Given that most people don’t even think about these things, that’s an important step in the right direction.
By the way, we’ve got several plastic free, sustainable lifestyle items in our online store. If you see something you like, use the code beplasticfree when ordering for 15% off during July.
Have a safe and happy 4th of July, everyone. Let’s BE plastic FREE!
LADY FARMER MINT TEA
- Stuff a half gallon mason jar full of fresh mint plus 2-4 black tea bags, add 6-8 inch cutting of a stevia plant (or powdered to taste) and pour boiling water over it. Let it sit for 4 hours or overnight. CHILL IN FRIDGE, YUMMY!
- If you don’t have fresh mint in your garden, use mint tea bags in combination with the black tea, add sugar or stevia or whatever sweetener you want—or none. And lemon, of course!
- You don’t have to use the black tea if you want caffeine free but I prefer a little to give it body.
- Use frozen strawberries for ice cubes and a sprig of fresh mint as garnish for a festive flair!