LETTER FROM THE FOUNDER
Get Ready for Plastic-Free July
By Tyler Fox
Eight million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans each year, according to a 2015 study published in the journal Science. Approximately 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed, annually, from plastics in the ocean. But recycling, alone, isn’t the answer: less than 10 percent of plastic waste is recycled, and not all recycled plastic is actually reused.
I’d like to think these facts would have our forward-thinking community rallying to rid this area of single-use plastics, but that’s not happening—not yet. I don’t think it’s a matter of people not caring; I just think it’s hard to comprehend the severity of a situation when you’re not seeing it firsthand. It’s scientifically proven that it’s hard to break habits we’ve formed, whether it’s a bartender sticking a plastic straw in every drink they serve, or a gym-goer buying a plastic water bottle before working out. But plastic habits are ones we should strive to disrupt. I’ve been working on this in my own life and now find that it’s almost second nature to bring my own reusable container when buying my juices, smoothies and coffee.
I’ve heard reports of beaches in Hawaii that were pristine and picturesque a decade ago that are now littered with plastic debris. I’ve seen the same thing happen in Nicaragua, to which I’ve been traveling for the last 10 years: during that time, I’
ve noticed a huge increase of plastic bottles, plastic caps, fishing nets and other mostly plastic garbage washing up at the high-tide mark. Our local beaches are still fairly clean, but wouldn’t it be a bummer if we were served the same fate?
To help prevent this, I’ve got a challenge for you. It’s called “Plastic-Free July,” and this is how it works: Attempt to refuse single-use plastics throughout July. “Single-use”
plastics are meant to be used only once before being chucked, and include items like plastic shopping bags, plastic cups, straws, and plastic packaging. If refusing all single-use plastic sounds too intimidating, try the “Top 4 Challenge” and ditch plastic bags, bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws.
The rules (from plasticfreejuly.org):
•Attempt to refuse single-use plastic during the month July.
•Remember, it’s not going to be easy. It is a challenge, not a competition, so don’t worry about being perfect.
•Collect any unavoidable single-use plastic you buy. Share it with plasticfreejuly.org at the end of the challenge.
•It’s up to you how long you participate. You might decide to go plastic-free for a day, a week, a month, or longer. However long you choose, you will still make a contribution.
I’m going to give it a go for the month of July and challenge a friend on Instagram to do the same. If you challenge a friend on your Instagram account and come into our shop (3912 Portola Drive, Ste. 7, Santa Cruz) to show us proof, we’ll give you free Santa Cruz Waves hat. Have fun, and good luck!
Learn more at plasticfreejuly.org.