Contributed photo
Plastic Free Salish Sea sign made from plastic found on San Juan County beaches.

Contributed photo Plastic Free Salish Sea sign made from plastic found on San Juan County beaches.

Plastic Free July | Be part of the solution

Just one word. Plastics.

If you’re a fan of classic films or you get this question in Trivial Pursuit, you may be thinking of “The Graduate.”

Sadly, plastics are not the future. In fact, they have devastating effects on the world around us.

It stays in the environment for decades, threatening wildlife and leaching out toxins to us all. These chemicals are found in the blood and tissue of humans and animals, and exposure to them has been linked to cancer, birth defects and more. Plastic also plays a role in global warming since nearly all of them are made from chemicals that come from the production of planet-warming fuels.

On June 29, the San Juan County Council approved a proclamation designating “Plastic Free July” in the San Juans. The proclamation recognizes the pressing issues around plastic waste, including the fact that plastics are the most prevalent type of marine debris found in our oceans. Plastic is found daily on San Juan County’s shores with disastrous consequences for marine life and human health.

Plastic Free July is a global movement (www.plasticfreejuly.org/) that encourages millions of people to be part of the solution by providing resources and ideas to help you reduce single-use plastic waste in your daily life. San Juan County encourages residents and visitors to reduce plastic consumption by choosing reusable alternatives to single-use plastics, making purchases meaningful by seeking products packaged with biodegradable materials, sourcing food and products locally where possible and learning about what resources exist here for recycling and individual waste reduction.

The council extended recognition and support to the Environmental Resource Division’s ongoing work as well as the mission of Plastic Free Salish Sea (www.plasticfreesalishsea.org), a community campaign spearheaded by the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee. The council also elevated Environmental Resources to a county department. The team will be sharing information and ways to get involved all month. Join the conversation on the county’s new Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/SanJuanCountyWA.

Let’s discuss some small steps that you can take. Visit www.plasticfreejuly.org/ for many more ideas and encouraging stories from schools, families and businesses that are passionate about reducing the impact of plastic.

• Bring your own coffee cup when ordering that double espresso to go.

• Say no to plastic bags. Always carry a reusable bag in your car.

• Switch from shower gel and soap in a dispenser to bar soap.

• Instead of single-use tampons and pads, consider menstrual cups, period underwear and washable cotton pads and liners.

• Choose a toothbrush that is made from sustainable, compostable materials, such as bamboo. Be aware though, bristles are usually still made from plastic, so you’ll need to cut them off before composting or reusing your bamboo toothbrush handle. Purchasing a toothbrush with a replaceable head can eliminate the need to continually purchase a new plastic brush every few months, too. When it comes to toothpaste, many health and organic stores sell plastic-free alternatives.

• You can easily plan a party that’s free from balloons and other harmful single-use plastics. Consider decorations that can be reused time and time again like tassels, tissue pom poms, lanterns, fresh flowers and more.

• Avoid cling wrap. There are many alternatives to plastic cling wrap. Storing and packing food in reusable containers is a great start. You can also purchase reusable silicone bowl toppers to cover food in bowls, pots and pans, or even get crafty with an upside-down plate, reusable cloth cover or wax wrap.

Let’s be part of the solution for this worldwide problem. Together, we can make a difference. Make sure you tag your waste reduction actions and ideas on social media in July with #sjcplasticfreejuly to help inspire others.