Plastic tips

 Plastic-Free Lent Calendar 2021 

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Week 19 – Be Green While Growing
Almost half a billion plastic plant pots end up in landfills or are incinerated every year.  Plastic is found in many products associated with gardening, such as seedling trays, ground cover, product containers & bags, and tools.  You can reduce the amount of plastic used in your garden:

  • Start seeds in egg cartons or biodegradable pots, such as Cowpots, or make your own from newspaper
  • Use newspaper or cardboard, instead of plastic sheeting, to prevent weeds
  • Buy soil, compost & mulch in bulk.  All are for sale at the Alpha Ridge WoodWaste Area.
  • Make your own garden markers
  • When replacing tools, purchase ones made from wood and metal
  • Water with a watering can instead of a hose.  Using older hoses may be a health risk.

Clean flower pots and seedling trays (no soil or plant material) are recyclable in Howard County.

For more info:

Week 18 – Kids & Babies
Plastics contain many chemicals, some potentially toxic.  Humans ingest, breathe and absorb (through skin contact) these chemicals, making plastics a health risk.  Babies and small children are more at risk due to their size and immature development. See links below for more information about health risks of plastic.

Besides toys, many arts and crafts supplies contain harmful additives.  They are also usually packaged in plastic. Glitter, a much-loved craft component, is actually a micro-plastic.  As with other microplastics, it contaminates our waterways and is eaten by marine life.  Eco-glitter sells a product that is plastic-free.

Ideas for art and toys:

Further reading:

Click here for a free Healthy Baby Guide on ways to avoid or reduce plastic and chemicals.  The guide was developed by the Plastic Pollution Coalition.

Week 17 – Cleaning Products
Plastics are used to make containers to hold cleaning products for many reasons, including it’s durability and ability to contain strong chemicals.  Unfortunately, the majority of plastic containers (69.9%) are discarded in landfills. Only 13% is recycled and 17% combusted with energy recovery. Landfills are threats to the environment and human health due to the creation of atmospheric gases and leaching of chemicals into underground and surface water. The following sites provide information about landfills and their environmental impacts: 

Help reduce the amount of plastics that are discarded in landfills by trying these suggestions: 

Week 16 – Personal Care Products

Personal care products and make-up often come in plastic containers and/or are packaged using more materials than the product itself.  A 2016 study by the World Economic Forum found that 32 percent of the 78 million tons of plastic packaging produced annually is found in the oceans—the equivalent to dumping one garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute. 

  • Change to a new brand that is sustainable.
    • Lush offers free samples
  • Refill small bottles from large refill jugs to at least reduce the amount of plastic used
  • If you like your current brand, contact the manufacturer and tell them to change their packaging.

Want to learn more?

Mini-Challenge #2

Speak Up for Plastic Free Shopping
Contact manufacturers and stores for changes in packaging

  • Fill out surveys on store receipts.   
  • Tweet, email or call the company regarding your dissatisfaction with packaging

Week 15 – Cleaning up your laundry
Besides the plastic containers that hold laundry detergents and softeners, laundering clothes contributes to plastic pollution by releasing microbeads and microfibers. Microfibers are shed from synthetic fabrics during washing while plastic microbeads are a component of liquid detergents. Ninety-four percent of plastic waste is made up of microplastics, which include micro fibers and microbeads. Due to the release of microplastics and chemicals in our waterways, the laundry process may also cause potential health issues. Some chemicals used in dryer sheets and liquid fabric softeners have been associated with certain health concerns or have been determined to be carcinogens.  
What can you do?

  • Wear your clothes more often between washings.  With the exception of undergarments, clothes usually can be worn several times before needing to be thrown in the wash.
  • Use natural detergents, preferably detergent stripslaundry soap nuts, or Eco laundry pods.
  • Use wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.
  • Add ¼ to 1 cup of lemon juice to your wash to brighten whites.
  • Add ½ cup of baking soda to your laundry to both whiten your whites and soften most fabrics.
  • For stain removal, use a paste made with baking soda and water or a combination of salt and lemon juice. Check this site for further instruction.
  • Consider using a GuppyFriend Bag when washing synthetics to capture microplastics that are released with each laundering.

Suggested reading:

Week 14 – Food packaging – Shop the bulk aisles! 
Single-use food and beverage packaging is a major contributor to plastic pollution. Approximately 20% of the waste in landfills is food packaging. It is estimated that the average American and European use about 220 pounds of plastic each year, most of which consists of packaging.

What can you do? Shop the bulk aisles!
Many food items, such as baking supplies, nuts, pasta, dried fruit and seasonings, can be found in the bulk section. Buying bulk helps the environment by eliminating packaging, especially if you take your own containers or bags. It is also advantageous to you because it is less expensive and it allows you to buy the amount that you actually need. Also, there is often a good selection of organic foods in the bulk section.
To familiarize yourself with shopping in a bulk section, read this article.

The following stores sell food in bulk:

Want to learn more?

Week 13 – Food packaging
Single-use food and beverage packaging is a major contributor to plastic pollution. Approximately 20% of the waste in landfills is food packaging. It is estimated that the average American and European use about 220 pounds of plastic each year, most of which consists of packaging.
What can you do?

  • Choose products with minimal or no plastic packaging.
  • Advocate for companies to reduce their packaging.
  • Prepare your own meals instead of purchasing pre-made foods packaged in plastic.  Besides not buying packaged foods, it’s healthier for you. Check out websites, such as Allrecipes or Foodnetwork, for easy and quick recipes.

Week 12 – Reuse – BYO take-home food containers

Hundreds of millions of pounds of disposable takeout containers end up in landfills every year.
Bring your own take-home container when dining out or going to potluck. If ordering take-out, ask if you can use your own container. Keep containers in reusable bags in your car.  
Look for some options here and read more about the growing trend here and here.

Week 11 – Rethink your clothing choices

Your clothing items have plastic in it.  Synthetic fabrics (polyester, nylon, acetate, etc.) originate from plastic. During laundering, tiny pieces of plastic, microplastics, are released and pass through filters in wastewater treatment plants which then end up in our waterways and eventually, the ocean. The amount of micro-plastics that are released in a load of laundry is roughly equivalent to the surface area of a pack of gum. More information here and here.

Second to oil, the clothing and textile industry is the largest polluter in the world. Textiles represent 8% of the solid waste in landfills. Consumers throw away an average of 80 pounds of shoes and clothing per person annually.

What can you do?

Week 10 – Reduce when Entertaining
Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year, according to Stanford University. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week! 
Skip disposable dinnerware. Borrow from a friend or purchase additional items from a thrift store. If you must use disposables, purchase eco-friendly products.

Zero waste holiday ideas HERE and HERE.
Eco-friendly cutlery

Week 9Reduce or Reuse Christmas Wrapping Paper

According to the EPA, the United States generates one million tons of extra trash throughout the holiday season. A large percentage of this waste comes from tossed wrapping paper.  Most rolls of wrapping paper that currently found in every supermarket and card shop are not only coated with plastic, but also come wrapped in a non-recyclable plastic film or covered in glitter (aka microplastics).
Christmas Wrapping Paper Options:

  • Recycled wrapping paper
  • Kraft paper 
  • Fabric
  • Reusable gift bags
  • Fabric ribbon and bows

More ideas:

Week 8Hold the Straw

Around 500 million straws are used each day, yet they are not recyclable. Plastic straws are one of the top 10 items found in the coastal clean-up each year. Besides being bad for the environment, they are harmful to seabirds, turtles and marine life. Hold the straw!  As soon as you are seated, tell the waitstaff not to give you a straw.
Keep a reusable straw in your purse or on your keychain.

We will are selling reusable and collapsible straws.  Details on our straw and beeswax wrap sales.

Week 7 – Reduce – Use reusable cups to go.

Americans use 16 billion disposable coffee cups per year.  Most disposable cups are not recyclable because the cups are lined with plastic. This lining, as well as the residual beverage, are considered contaminants.

Make it a habit to take your own cup when stopping for coffee on your way to work or when traveling. Keep a reusable travel mug or cup in your car.

Week 6 – Reduce Plastic Wrap

The amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the state of Texas.
Food packaging is the second most common trash item collected during the Ocean Conservancy’s annual beach clean-up. Plastic packaging is the fastest growing form of packaging and is detrimental to marine life.

  • Instead of using plastic wrap to cover leftovers, use beeswax storage wraps or reusable bowl covers. We have beeswax wraps for sell during Together@Ten.
  • Look for items that do not contain plastic in their packaging, such as glass bottles or aluminum cans and cardboard egg cartons instead of styrofoam or plastic.   

Week 5 – Reduce – Use Reusable Bottles

Although over 60 million plastic bottles are thrown away each day, many still litter our land and waterways. Besides litter, the manufacturing and decomposition of them also harms our environment by releasing greenhouse gas emissions. The production uses our natural resources. 15 million barrels of crude oil and 3X the amount of water bottled are used annually to produce plastic bottles.

Week 4 – Reduce – Use Reusable Bags

Plastic bags are one of the major contributors to plastic pollution. Almost 2 million plastic bags are used every minute worldwide. The average plastic bag is used for just 12 minutes, but it could take 450 years to break down.

Help save the planet by using reusable bags when shopping at any store, not just grocery stores. Use reusable bags for purchasing produce and bulk items.
Here are some suggestions for remembering:
• Hang bags on doorknob
• Use compact bags that can be easily stored in glove compartment or on key chain
• Keep several reusable bags and place them strategically where you will see them
• As soon as you unload your bags, put them back in the car
• Lay them under your wallet or keys so you will remember them when you next go out
• Write BAGS on top of shopping list.
• Put a sticker on your keys as a reminder.

Week 3 – Reduce
Replace plastics with non-plastic alternatives as you use up the product. Don’t replace items before they are finished.

Week 2 – Reduce
Purchase Halloween candy that is packaged in boxes or paper, such as Milk Duds, Junior Mints or Pixie Stix. Avoid candy in wrappers that cannot be recycled.

Week 1Repurpose Make your Halloween costume from items you have at home or purchase from a thrift store. Avoid buying a costume made from synthetic materials.

For ideas: