After reading about the #PlasticFreeJuly challenge, I decided July would be the month I really kick this plastic thing in the butt. Over the past several years, I’ve been evaluating my habits and usage of single use plastic items. I doubt my quest this month will be perfect, but I hope to uncover some hidden habits I can break.
Plastic Free at the Office
I bring my own utensils to work, and decided to bring 5 additional sets for communal use. I placed them in our conference/break room with no pressure or guilt attached. Like any habit, it took a few weeks (maybe 1 month) not to reach for the plastic fork, but the “to wash” tin started filling up. I was really happy to see my co-workers changing their habits before my eyes. An added bonus for the workplace, being green saves money. Who washes the dishes you ask? I split the duty between myself and another colleague. Hey, it’s for the earth.
“A fork can be a conversation piece.”
The unexpected consequence of reusable silverware, a fork can be a conversation piece for plastic pollution and environmental activism. Working on a campus, there are occasional school-wide gatherings or lunches, so I started bringing along my fork. Each time I’ve used my fork from home, people ask me about it, to which I reply, “I don’t use plastic utensils.” Usually people want to know more, so I expand and say “it’s really easy to bring utensils from home and it’s better for the planet.” In September 2016, France became the first country to ban plastic plates and cutlery.
Will you join the #PlasticFreeJuly challenge? Breaking one habit to start another may seem inconvenient at first, but hang in there. You don’t need to go cold turkey, but start with small changes and evaluate your overall use of plastic. You’ll be surprised where it shows up when you’re consciously looking for it. Increasing my awareness of plastic use has placed 2 things on my list of “habits I want to break:” 1.) Refusing plastic utensils and straws at take-out places (you know how they hide them in the bag!?) 2.) Bringing my own leftover containers to restaurants.
For other tips on reducing your plastic waste, visit the Green Education Fund.