A Tech-Powered Approach to Prevention and Mitigation of Wildfires in California  
June 27, 2024
A Tech-Powered Approach to Prevention and Mitigation of Wildfires in California  
June 27, 2024

Blog & News

July 9th, 2024

Plastic Free July

Author: Rachel Noriega
We all have forgotten our reusable bags when we go shopping but do you need a plastic bag to take your groceries from the cart to your car to your home or can you grab a bag once you get home? July is plastic-free month and every year the implications of our plastic use become more concerning, but it is often difficult to avoid plastic. We see plastic all the time when we conduct field work—often as plastic trash that escaped recycling and garbage bins.
Plastic can be found everywhere from packaging to cars to clothing. The biggest concern with plastic used to be its harm to wildlife and the environment, but new studies about microplastics show these tiny plastic particles end up in the human body. These particles enter the human body via the air we breathe, the food we eat, the liquids we drink, and even through contact with the skin. 
The true effects of microplastics are still unknown, but some potential effects could be oxidative stress, DNA damage, organ dysfunction, metabolic disorder, immune response, neurotoxicity, and reproductive toxicity. In the coming years, the effects of microplastics will be better understood, but that doesn’t mean we should wait before acting.
Large-scale policy changes can reduce the amount of plastic pollution that enters our environment. Policy changes should be aimed at large corporations, but these changes will need a push from individuals—who hold power with their dollar and what they choose to purchase. Some things you can do are:
  • If you live near a refill store shop there (and bring your own refillable items);
  • Buy products with less (or no!) plastic packaging;
  • If you live near a grocery store with a bulk items aisle, try to purchase as many items (such as grains, legumes, nuts, and spices) from that section as possible—and bring your own containers if you can;
  • Let companies know if their products require less plastic packaging—and if a company’s getting something right, let them know that too;
  • Try using bar soap not just for the body but also for your hair (aka shampoo bars!);
  • Use laundry soap sheets or powder – particularly if you can purchase them in bulk or find options that use cardboard boxes;
  • Reduce online shopping;
  • Shop at thrift stores to give plastic items a new life;
  • Swap items using Buy Nothing groups, or similar, to help reduce what ends up in the landfill;
  • Bring your own to-go boxes when you go out to eat;
  • Bring your own cup when you go get a smoothie, coffee, or tea;
  • Avoid using single-use straws;
  • Ask for paper bags at the grocery store or bring your own reusable bag; and
  • Ensure your trash is completely full before changing the bag.
If you are looking to take bigger actions, consider participating in a beach or river clean-up, commit to recycling plastic film (through programs like The Mighty  Bin in San Diego, Ridwell, or TerraCycle), and reduce your overall plastic consumption by choosing other materials when you have a choice. Great Ecology is making strides toward reducing our plastic waste through consolidating online purchases and making purchases in physical retail stores when practicable, purchasing more items in bulk, and initiating plastic film recycling.
Ties to plastic are often difficult to sever. Sometimes plastic is unavoidable because it can be the best material for certain tasks. This July be intentional with your plastic use.  Right now, there are not always alternatives to plastic, but understand that you have the power to create change. The same small choice made by millions can cause a movement.