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Living that Plastic Free Lifestyle

What We Can Do for Earth Day and Everyday

So here we are in Earth Month, counting down the days until Earth Day on April 22. As we discussed last week (see here), the official Earth Day theme this year is Planet vs. Plastics and how Shepherd’s Dream is fully on board with that plastic free mission. 

Discussing plastics can be rather gloomy news, and it’s hard not to feel like a big part of the problem. We’re going to explore a bit about the plastic conundrum, but then we’re going to turn our focus toward what each of us can do to make a difference. Even one small lifestyle shift at a time can really add up. Let’s find out what we can do to help!

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A Brief History and Overview of the Plastic Problem

Plastics were originally explored as a replacement for limited natural resources like ivory and tortoise shell. The first polymers used natural materials like cellulose and camphor, but by 1907, the first fully synthetic plastic was invented. By World War 2, plastics became indispensable and were soon ubiquitous. Plastics solved many problems for industry, and their utility quickly became obvious for wide-ranging applications. We simply wouldn’t have many of the types and kinds of products and technologies we have today without plastics: computers, phones, cars, containers of all kinds, components, packaging, and more.

For all the benefits of plastics, it didn’t take long for concerns to begin surfacing. The 20th Century saw a huge rise in pollution, environmental disasters, and ecological awareness, and the issue around the persistence of plastics came to light. As a response, the plastics industry introduced the idea of recycling, launching a major campaign to recruit municipalities into the effort. Unfortunately, as we all know, recycling is imperfect and hasn’t been the solution.

In addition, plastics contain chemicals that have been proven to affect the health of humans and other animals. The focus of concern has been on bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, known hormonal disruptors that leach into food, beverages, and waterways. Given that hormones affect just about every process in the human body, these chemicals are crucial to avoid. 

And yet, plastics remain a dominant presence in modern life today. At last estimation, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now 1.6 million square kilometers, about twice the size of Texas.

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Being Part of the Plastic Free Solution

Phew! The plastic problem is pretty grim. Before we get bogged down in overwhelm, let’s shed some light on what we can do.

The official Earth Day site is a wealth of information. They also have a Plastic Calculator to help you measure your plastic usage and track progress if you’d really like to take on the challenge. Here are some helpful basic tips around how to avoid single use plastics for all of us:

  • Bring reusable shopping and produce bags to the grocery store. Avoid plastic bags.
  • Bring your own reusable coffee cup to the café.
  • If straws are your thing, bring your own reusable ones made from metal, glass, or bamboo.
  • Invest in a water filter and reusable water bottles instead of buying bottled water. Cheaper and healthier!
  • Choose clothing (and bedding!) made from natural fibers instead of synthetic ones.
  • Bring a reusable container to the restaurant if you anticipate leftovers.

Beyond the daily items, there are also plenty of ideas to take part in Earth Day activities:

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And if we may add one of our own, vote with your dollars by supporting the businesses and products that are doing the work to build a better future for us and our planet. When you purchase from us, you can rest assured that your items have been made with earth-friendly materials built to last and to gracefully decompose when the time comes. Extend this out to the clothes you wear, the personal care products you put on your body, the cleaning supplies you use in your home, the food you eat, and anything else you can think of that inspires you to go plastic free. 

And along with the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle motto, be sure to hone your eye and Refuse to add anything to your life that is single-use plastic or simply unnecessary. Together, we can dream that plastic-free world into being!

Happy Earth Day! We hope you’ve found some inspiration for ways to celebrate, either directly or in spirit. Give us a follow on Instagram for more eco-friendly lifestyle tips and news, and until we meet again—sweet dreams!

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