By Lyla Forman, Summer Intern

At the Surfrider Foundation, we fight for reducing the impact of plastics in the marine environment that surrounds us. Plastics are used everyday and found everywhere, and have led to marine devastation as our oceans fill with plastics. Eliminating plastic at the source is imperative. As a consumer, you can make a large impact through sustainably-minded purchasing and lifestyle choices. Join us for Plastic Free July and commit to the 7 following ways to reduce your plastic footprint! 

  1. Bring your reusables 

Invest in a reusable water bottle you can bring with you everywhere you go and don’t buy plastic water bottles. Carry with you a set of reusable utensils and shopping bags.

2. Go “topless” 

If you don’t have a reusable coffee tumbler on hand, one way to still reduce your waste is by refusing a plastic lid. Take it one step further by refusing other unnecessary single-use plastics such as straws, stirrers, or utensils.

Iced coffee with a paper straw = two pieces of plastic avoided!

3. Buy local 

Buying locally reduces plastic by opting out of mass-produced goods and shopping at farmers markets is a great way to both support local business and reduce your plastic footprint. Shopping at local farmers markets reduces food waste, distribution emissions, and package waste. Products are often sold in glass,cans, or no packaging at all, so it’s easy to avoid plastic when grocery shopping.

  1. Shop in bulk 

Shopping in bulk carries the promise of less waste and is an impactful way to reduce your plastic footprint. Drastically less packaging and material is required for products in bulk. Materials also tend to be made out of more sustainable materials such as glass and metal, and often come with the opportunity to refill, cutting out waste entirely. Further, buying in bulk reduces the C02 emissions that accompany shipping and traveling making it an effective way to reduce your energy footprint.

Reusable bamboo utensils to take on the go! Available for purchase at our beach cleanups and events.
  1. Say no to to-go 

When possible, eat in restaurants instead of taking it to go. Takeout and disposable foodware are one of the largest causes of ocean pollution and plastic waste. Opting to dine in at a restaurant allows you to skip out on the waste and use reusable foodware. If eating in at a restaurant is not an option, you can still reduce your trash by telling the restaurant you don’t want plastic utensils, condiments, or napkins, a.k.a. “Skip the Stuff“.

  1. Make a zero-waste kit 

Creating a zero-waste kit and bringing it with you is a small lifestyle change that makes all the above choices much easier. Leave it by your front door, in your car, or wherever you know you can always have it with you. A kit could include a reusable water bottle, straw, utensil set, cloth bag, take-out container and whatever else would help you reduce waste on the go. Assess the disposables you use on a daily basis that could be switched out for a reusable item.

  1. Host a plastic free Picnic 

Invite some friends to join you for a potluck picnic – but challenge them to bring something made without plastic. Choosing sustainability does not have to be viewed as a burden. It’s exciting to know you’re reducing your waste and in turn helping to protect our coasts and oceans. Celebrate it and make it a joint mission among friends and family!

Volunteers meet on the beach for a chapter meeting followed by a picnic.