I'll admit, I've been a little behind on my 30 Day Challenges (see our first two here and here), but have no fear, this month I'm bringing all the caffeine lovers a real tough one: ditching the hot coffee/tea cup.
Single use hot beverage cups are convenient. They're lightweight which wins compared to having to carry around a reusable cup which can be bulky, heavy, and inconvenient for a lot of city walkers. They're cheap which wins for a quick fix compared to buying a reusable cup (though after multiple refills, this is no longer true). And they're recyclable, right? Not exactly...
We may have shied away from the terrible styrofoam cups we used to use (EXCEPT YOU DUNKIN', I'M LOOKING AT YOU!), but don't let the "recyclable paper cup" fool you, they aren't as eco-friendly as they pretend to be. Maybe you're thinking, "They're not as bad as a plastic cup though!" And that's a fair thought. Except one small (and increasingly smaller in size, but more troublesome) problem...most hot beverage containers are lined with polyethelyne.
Polyethylene is a thin plastic added to coat the inside of many liquid containers (milk, water, hot beverages, etc.) to prevent the liquid from leaking or spilling. While many paper products can be recycled at regular recycling facilities, the difficulty lies in separating this plastic liner from the paper cup itself, which often leads to the cup ending up in landfill. When those cups aren't properly recycled, that plastic breaks down into micro-plastics (that's the increasingly smaller in size part) and we know that's problematic.
In addition to the cups being tough to recycle, many paper products aren't made from recycled material. Meaning, these coffee cups are made from NEW paper and have added NEW plastic for the ULTIMATE CUP aka what I like to call a crap cup.
So, grab yourself a reusable coffee mug. Whether it's one you already have, one your roommate has, one from S'well or REI, and bring your own travel mug every day this month. REALLY challenge yourself. Forget one day? Looks like you'll be needing a new way to get your a morning wake up and midday fix!
*Some information from this article was taken from Independent.co.uk.
Below I'm including some things we use on a daily basis that often lead to the use of a single use plastic bag. PLEASE remember, in an effort to ditch ANYTHING, it's important to remember to use what you already have. If there's a bag that isn't 100% organic cotton, but is already in your closet, use that first. If you have a bag that isn't your "favorite" style, but still does exactly what you need it to do, use that first. While we want to use reusable items, it's important to remember to reduce waste by using what we already have first and foremost (and then dispose of them properly at the end of their use life).
There are all sorts of ways to avoid plastic bags in your daily life. It can be a bit of a challenge, but I promise you, it gets easier with time. Let me know how else we can avoid plastic bags. What are your tricks for avoiding plastic garbage bags for those of you that aren't waste-free? Will you be joining me for this July challenge? Let me know over on our Facebook page!
Please note: The only product pictured above that I personally own is the navy United By Blue lunchbox. I own other totes, reusable grocery bags, and produce bags from local companies and shops. These are simply suggestions to get the ball rolling!
Back to the Challenge
Now that you get the general idea (PLASTIC STRAWS ARE TERRIBLE), it's time for the challenge. For the month of June, I challenge you to say no to the plastic straw. Period. It's as simple as that. Well, it should be.
Many people use straws to protect their teeth, to stir their cocktails, etc. and I fully support that! Which makes the choice simple:
buy a reusable straw or simply say no.
This means not taking one at Wawa, Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, the movie theater. It means when you order a cocktail at your local bar, a glass of water, an iced tea, say "with no straw, please." I guarantee you that 99% of the time you order a drink at any of these places, you will automatically receive a pre-opened straw. Saying no to the straw starts a conversation, it gets people thinking, whether they realize it or not.
What to Look For in Reusable Straws
I absolutely LOVE my Simply Straw straws! They are a B Certified corporation*, mother-daughter duo, and member of 1% For the Planet. They not only sell reusable straws, but reusable straw sleeves made of fair-trade hemp, flax, and organic cotton. Their packaging materials are fully compostable and all of their web hosting and printing is powered by eco energy (did you even know that was a thing?! I certainly didn't.)
I hope you'll join me on the first Conscious Living challenge this June! Let me know in the Facebook group how many times you've had to say "no thank you" to a straw.
Promo: HONEYHONEY20 (for 20% off!)
*"Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy." (bcorporation.net)
Jamie is a musician, avid lover of nature, and a dog momma living a more sustainable life each and every day.