Traditionally in August, summer is in full bloom, and people are chasing golden memories and new places to explore. This summer may look different, but more people need a reprieve from their monotonous lives and feel a sense of normalcy. Whether you’re planning your next road trip or taking a “staycation,” it’s essential to be mindful of having a throw-away mentality and just consume and dispose.

There’s something about summer that makes people drink and eat more. Things packaged in plastic served in a single-use container, wrapped up in a film ready for disposal, or served with utensils that will wind up on beaches and puncture your toe. It’s happened to me; I feel your pain. With so many new advances and alternatives to wasteful, harmful materials, it’s difficult to wonder why you might not have adopted some. But there’s a new issue this summer that needs attention.

As we talked about in a previous blog post, plastic releases harmful chemicals when it breaks down in landfills, polluting our air. Humans also ingest plastic in various ways: through the air we breathe, eating seafood, or even consuming minute amounts of plastic packaging. Plastic is basically a toxin for the body and can shut down organs and compromise immune function.

Maybe the local beach looks different than remembered. Among the familiar trash, the cigarettes, the bottles, and the bags drifting in the wind are the new assortment of waste: face masks. Large amounts of COVID-19 protective gear, such as face masks, gloves, and face shields, have littered our streets and beaches. Hospitals have generated six times more medical waste than normal. In addition to the 35.4 million tons of plastic Americans waste normally, and the new restrictions of reusable bags in stores will roll back a lot of progress made. While many of these single-use protective gear is crucial for frontline workers, the average person can take a few easy, effortless steps on avoiding plastic this summer and not even notice.

Use Reusable Face Masks – One of the most important things to consider during these new times is how the new habits we’re adopting are also impacting the environment. The use of masks to stop the spread of coronavirus is important in containing the spread and keeping people healthy. However, those disposable hospital masks have created a new waste problem; roughly 75 percent of masks will end up in landfills. Those masks are woven with plastic fibers that end up lasting decades in landfills. Instead, use reusable masks, and if you feel like you need more protection, get one where you can add a filter.

Photo @haydesign

Buy whole foods and bring reusable bagsPlastic is most prominent in the foods we consume. Whether it’s the bag that holds your favorite snack or the package of vegetables wrapped in it, plastic holds a place in every section of the grocery store and restaurants. The reality is that plastic elongates the ripeness of food for a longer time, limiting food waste. However, there’s nothing you can’t do yourself. Buying whole foods and using reusable bags at home to preserve the foods will help limit both food and plastic waste..

Photo @Collinastrada

Reusable water bottleI know everyone has perpetuated this tip, but the amount of disposable plastic bottles thrown away in the U.S. is an astounding 60 million per day. There are water bottles of so many shapes, sizes, and materials to keep your water cold for much longer than those single-use bottles. While they might be clunky in the beginning, once you get used to taking it everywhere, you’ll notice when it’s gone.

Plan AheadPicture this: you sweat over planning the perfect road trip. You plan every sight, every break, every activity. You pack everything the night before, and you arrive at your hotel for the first night. You’re ready to get into bed, and then you realize…you forgot your toothbrush. Without specific planning to what you should bring, it’s easy to forget little things and force you to buy them. Even if the item isn’t plastic, it’s probably encased in plastic packaging. A little bit of planning can prevent waste.

Use Reusable Face Masks – One of the most important things to consider during these new times is how the new habits we’re adopting are also impacting the environment. The use of masks to stop the spread of coronavirus is important in containing the spread and keeping people healthy. However, those disposable hospital masks have created a new waste problem; roughly 75 percent of masks will end up in landfills. Those masks are woven with plastic fibers that end up lasting decades in landfills. Instead, use reusable masks, and if you feel like you need more protection, get one where you can add a filter.

Photo @Collinastrada

Reusable water bottleI know everyone has perpetuated this tip, but the amount of disposable plastic bottles thrown away in the U.S. is an astounding 60 million per day. There are water bottles of so many shapes, sizes, and materials to keep your water cold for much longer than those single-use bottles. While they might be clunky in the beginning, once you get used to taking it everywhere, you’ll notice when it’s gone.

Photo @haydesign

Buy whole foods and bring reusable bagsPlastic is most prominent in the foods we consume. Whether it’s the bag that holds your favorite snack or the package of vegetables wrapped in it, plastic holds a place in every section of the grocery store and restaurants. The reality is that plastic elongates the ripeness of food for a longer time, limiting food waste. However, there’s nothing you can’t do yourself. Buying whole foods and using reusable bags at home to preserve the foods will help limit both food and plastic waste..

Plan AheadPicture this: you sweat over planning the perfect road trip. You plan every sight, every break, every activity. You pack everything the night before, and you arrive at your hotel for the first night. You’re ready to get into bed, and then you realize…you forgot your toothbrush. Without specific planning to what you should bring, it’s easy to forget little things and force you to buy them. Even if the item isn’t plastic, it’s probably encased in plastic packaging. A little bit of planning can prevent waste.

There’s plenty of ways to avoid plastics of all kinds and while they all hold value, it all begins with the first step, and the goal is to make it easy for anyone to adopt these three habits so they can continue through their plastic-free journey. So while you’re drinking with your friends and loved ones, socially-distant, you can do so knowing you’re helping limit the excessive waste.

Brands We Love To Love

Here are some brands we love to follow in their nonplastic efforts.