Why You Should Keep Your Plastic Free July Goals All Year Long + Tips

Why You Should Keep Your Plastic Free July Goals All Year Long + Tips

Plastic Free July is here! However, you can (and should) carry the tips you adopt in July with you throughout the entire year.

The world’s reliance on plastic is growing, and as a result, so is our plastic waste. According to Plastic Oceans Org, over 50% of the plastic produced today (150+ million tons) is made for single-use products — things like water bottles, foodservice ware, menstrual products, and shopping bags to name a few. While single-use plastic products require exponential time and resources to be manufactured, most are only used for a matter of minutes before they’re tossed. And the waste and climate-related consequences they create as a result are often shouldered on BIPOC (Black Indegenous People of Color) communities.

The plastic pollution conversation is often centered around waste. However, it’s important to note that the production of the plastic itself is equally taxing on the environment and people. and other fossil fuels like coal and gas. Most of the petrochemical plants in the United States are located in the Gulf Coast of Texas and in Louisiana along the lower stretch of the Mississippi River in an area blanketed with toxic emissions known as “Cancer Alley”.

Along this 85-mile stretch of land there are over 150 oil refineries and petrochemical plants. The majority of people living in the communities are people of color, and due to the mass amount of plants and emissions in the region, residents are 50 times more likely to get cancer than the average American. And in the midst of the pandemic, this community now also has one of the highest COVID-19 death rates per capita in the country. Rolling Stone accurately describes this area as the “frontline of environmental racism”. By relying on single-use plastics, as a society we are placing a demand on these petrochemical plants to keep producing, expanding operations and further polluting BIPOC-concentrated communities.

After being tossed, the waste that single-use plastic products leave behind affect the poorest communities who don’t have the resources to mitigate plastic pollution. In the United States and other developed countries, we

have the means to shift the responsibility for our plastic waste onto other countries. The NIMBY (not in my backyard!) mindset gives us this harmful sense that as long as we can’t see all of the waste we’re creating, it doesn’t directly impact us.

However, across the world there are 400,000 to 1,000,000 people dying each year because of diseases caused by mismanaged waste. The single-use plastic waste we all create through our daily actions play a large part in that. Many Western countries dump their plastic waste into these developing regions. In 2018 alone, the United States exported over 2.4 million pounds of plastic waste to other countries to deal with. 78% of our plastic waste went to areas with poor waste management systems including Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam. These countries serve as literal dumping grounds for the world’s single-use plastic waste, and are then named as the biggest contributors of plastic pollution.

As consumers, what can we do to change these dire circumstances?

First, it’s important to recognize the connection between the products we use and the adverse impacts they can cause on marginalized communities.

Climate issues, social issues, and racial issues are all inextricably interconnected. Humanity’s pursuit of a "good life" has made exploiting our planet's resources the new norm. We’re burning fossil fuels, clearing forests, and burying ourselves in our own plastic trash to produce goods that do not benefit us all equally. The world’s 2,150 billionaires are collectively worth $10 trillion. Meanwhile, 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. These people often live in impoverished regions where resources aren't available to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Learning, relearning and sharing information on these issues is an important component in the fight against environmental racism both in the U.S. and abroad.

Second, you can use your knowledge to vote with your dollar and support companies that don’t contribute to single-use plastic waste.

As a consumer, you hold a lot of power. Can you imagine how much industries would be forced to change if every single person shifted their demand to only sustainably-produced products? Companies would be compelled to change how they produce products, and even the types of products they produce. Support brands like Natracare, World Centric, and other B Corporations and 1% For The Planet members that are using business as a force for good, and not putting profits over the wellbeing of people and the planet.

Third, support policy changes and political leaders whose values align with your own.

Advocate for single-use plastics bans, better waste management facilities, and policies that force big corporations to change the way they do business.


Written by

World Centric


Read time

6 minutes


Published on

Jun 16, 2020


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