I am very very excited to be launching my sustainability challenge series today! I’ve been feeling a little out of it creatively and the thought of doing this with you guys puts me back on my game in terms of blogging and I really hope you’ll come along for the ride.
Let me explain how it’s going to work…
The idea is that we’ll all complete the challenge each month and add the next month’s challenge onto that, ending the year with 12 major steps to living a more sustainable life. Each challenge in and of itself is a small step you can take personally that will add up to something bigger.
This challenge is also judgment-free. If you mess up or forget something, that’s ok, just try again the next day. This challenge is about doing our best and making attainable changes that we will actually stick to.
If you share the challenges with your friends and family and get them to join, our ripple effect could be, potentially, pretty big.
January’s sustainability challenge is to not use any single-use plastic bags for the entire month.
That includes shopping bags, produce bags, ziplock bags, and any other single-use plastic bags that you might use on a daily basis.
Out and about, I’ve pretty much mastered always carrying totes in my car so I can use them in CVS, the grocery store, and even Target when I remember. In the last two months, I’ve taken that a step further but always returning my produce bags to the totes in my car so I don’t end up forgetting them at the grocery store anymore. My town also banned single-use plastic bags at stores which makes things even easier.
At home, I find this challenge personally more difficult than the water bottle challenge because we still use a fair amount of ziplock bags even though I’ve been trying to cut down. But I’m committing to it and bought a few things to make it easier on the home-front.
Products to replace single-use plastic bags
Food Huggers: I bought this set of silicone covers on a friend’s recommendation to cover lemons, onions, bananas, and any other half-eaten/used fruits and veggies. That is where I use ziplock bags the most so I think these will make the biggest difference in our house. Sidebar, I did a partnership with Tupperware in December and they gave me this apple keeper. I put an apple in it 3 weeks ago and forgot about it… and it’s still fresh. No joke! So that’s another good option.
Stasher Bags: We have already started using silicone Stasher bags instead of ziplocks for snacking on-the-go. I love that they can be thrown in the dishwasher for easy-cleaning. They can get pricey if you’re buying a lot so this seems like a good, more affordable option.
Freezer Storage: Another place where we tend to use larger ziplock storage bags is in the freezer. I’ll use them to store frozen bananas and berries for smoothies as well as things like meat and bread that we plan to eat in the future.
Reusable Produce Bags: I’ve been using these for a few months and love them. I like that they’re color-coded and that they come in all sizes. We’ve ended up using them for toting food in the car on road trips and for organizing toys and diapers when we travel.
Give a Sh*t Dog Poop Bags: I have yet to figure out a solution for picking up dog poop without using a single-use bag but at least these are 100% compostable so I feel better about using them.
The only other place where I think single-use plastic is kind of necessary is trash bags. I buy the ones made from recycled materials but you can buy compostable bags for trash too.
Note: The point of this challenge isn’t to throw away the single-use bags you already have. Use what you have and don’t waste it. If you do use a Ziplock, try to reuse it as many times as possible!
I read 10 terrifying facts about plastic bags on biologicaldiversity.org and decided to copy and paste them here. If these don’t sell you on the challenge, I don’t know what will… You can read another interesting article packed with more knowledge here. I also found this Nat Geo article about Kenya’s plastic-bag ban to be depressing but fascinating. Give it a read if you have a few minutes. We might not be changing the world with these challenges, but we’re doing something!
10 Facts About Single-use Plastic Bags
1. Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which requires 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture.
2. It only takes about 14 plastic bags for the equivalent of the gas required to drive one mile.
3. The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year.
4. According to Waste Management, only 1 percent of plastic bags are returned for recycling. That means that the average family only recycles 15 bags a year; the rest end up in landfills or as litter.
5. Up to 80 percent of ocean plastic pollution enters the ocean from land.
6. At least 267 different species have been affected by plastic pollution in the ocean.
7. 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually.
8. One in three leatherback sea turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs.
9. Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes.
10. It takes 500 (or more) years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately, the bags don’t break down completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment.
So are you in? Do you have any other tips? Let me know!