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Welcome to the January 2020 sustainability challenge.
If you do something for two weeks, it becomes a habit, so these monthly challenges are all about building just one new environmentally-friendly habit every month.
This month is ‘plastic bag free January’ and our goal in the Sustainable Hiking Collective is to use zero plastic bags.
Plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to degrade, so plastic bags used by Genghis Khan would still be intact in landfills today.
This inability to degrade is bad for the environment because they get into the ocean or other natural habitats where they patiently wait to be eaten by animals, who often die from this deadly mistake. Did you know that 100% of baby sea turtles have plastic on their stomachs?
Reducing our plastic bag use protects our cutest marine life and helps us live more sustainably, but it’s not easy. I’m pretty good at remembering reusable bags for the grocery store but I still find myself using plastic for produce, small purchases, to-go food, and impulse buys.
So, the goal this January is:
- To notice how much we’re still using plastic bags for small purchases and
- Build habits to avoid it by carrying reusable bags or taking items without bags when possible.
The intention to do so is all well and good, but what are some practical steps you can take to make it happen?
Five Easy Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Bag Use
Use these five tips to build healthy habits and reduce your plastic bag usage, not just for the rest of this month but for the rest of your life!
1. Put Reusable Bags in Your Car, Purse, and Desk at Work
Seriously. Get up and do it right now so you don’t forget.
If you don’t have any reusable bags at the moment, you can buy high-quality ones on Amazon (like these reinforced bags thousands of reviewers swear by).
Getting some reliable bags with a design you like will make you excited to use them every time you go shopping. And, keeping them handy in the places you frequent the most will make sure you always have one available when you need it.
2. Buy Reusable Produce Bags
Plastic produce bags at the grocery store are such a staple of our daily life that we barely even notice them. Once you do, though, you’ll see they are a major cause of plastic waste in your life!
Luckily, they’re super easy to replace with a one-time purchase of reusable produce bags. These are also available on Amazon and are easy to set and forget in the reusable shopping bags you’re bringing to the store anyway.
Remember that you can always mix your produce in the bags, so you don’t need to buy one for every fruit and vegetable you buy if you don’t want too.
3. Take Your Purchases Without Any Bag At All
The best bag is no bag. Rather than buying a new reusable bag or opting for paper when you forget yours, opt to just carry purchases out of the store yourself. The cashier might give you a lil’ side-eye, but it’s worth it to protect our old pal mother nature 🙂
4. Reuse and Recycle the Plastic Bags You Do Have
If you do end up with plastic bags for a purchase, don’t worry. Reusing them multiple times rather than throwing them away immediately can still greatly reduce their environmental impact.
And, while you usually can’t recycle them from home, you can click here to find a drop-off recycling location near you that accepts them.
5. Join a Like-Minded Community
Having someone to keep you accountable drastically increases your chance of success in any goal you set.
Entrepreneur reports that “People are 65 percent likely to meet a goal after committing to another person. Their chances of success increase to 95 percent when they build in ongoing meetings with their partners to check in on their progress.”
Sharing your goal to complete a plastic bag free January with your friends or family or joining the Sustainable Hiking Collective group on Facebook will help you build this new habit on a stronger foundation.
100% of baby sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs. Reducing your plastic bag use can help combat this!
Take the January 2020 Sustainability Challenge
Join the Sustainable Hiking Collective on Facebook to start your journey toward a more sustainable lifestyle, one very small step at a time.
The group is also a great place to connect with the international hiking community, discover new destinations, and join virtual trail cleanups (the first of which is in March 2020).
Living sustainably is hard and frustrating, especially when big businesses are continuing to push us toward a climate disaster with huge emissions and waste. It can feel pointless to make small changes in our own lives, but these small changes do add up.
Our challenges and our group is a supportive place to build new habits in our lives one small step at a time – I hope you will join us!
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