Be a plastic free gift giver this holiday season

If you are planning to give a gift this holiday season while maintaining your plastic free lifestyle, look no further!

Plastic-free gifts

Reusable water bottle or coffee mug: A popular item for everyone these past few years has been reusable water bottles and coffee mugs.  Whether gift one with someone’s favorite sports team logo on it or you choose to create a more unique bottle or mug with the person’s name or a personalized message, you are sure to impress anyone with this gift idea.  Think about all of the plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups you will be keeping out of our landfills and waterways!

Homemade gift giving:  Get creative! Making a gift for someone can be a fun way to give something straight from the heart.  A letter with a personal message, a hand crafted ornament, or a scarf that you knitted yourself are all great examples of gift you can make at home to cut out the plastic waste associated with buying new from the store.

Books:  Go to your second hand book store and find a book that is a favorite of yours or one that you think gives a meaningful message.  You can even write a note on the inside cover of the book to give an irreplaceable gift. Buying used is a great way to save money and eliminate the demand for unnecessary over production.  Just remember, when at the book store’s register ask for no bag!

Packaging Tips

When it comes time to wrap your gift remember less is better.  If there is a way to reduce the amount of packaging you are using, do it!  Here are a few easy ways to reduce waste when wrapping gifts:

  • Use a gift bag.  These can be reused again and again instead of being torn apart and thrown away as you would with wrapping paper.
  • Skip the tape.  Tape is made of plastic and makes it hard to reuses wrapping paper. A short search online can show you how to fold wrapping paper in a way that will hold it all together, eliminating the need for tape!
  • Ditch the Ribbon.  If you don’t need it, skip it.  Ribbon is often times used to add a little pizzazz to a wrapped gift but is rarely reused.  Ditching the ribbon is a way to keep unneeded waste out of the landfills.
  • Try newspaper.  Using old newspaper that you have finished reading removes the need for store bought wrapping paper completely and can add a creative look to your gift.  Even better, you can recycle your newspaper gift wrap when you are down with it!

Four Easy Ways That YOU Can Reduce Plastic Pollution

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Plastic Pollution is a worldwide problem that could be solved by simply making the right decisions at home.  Half of all plastics produced are single-use items that are thrown out after just one use.  For all of these items there are alternative, reusable items that could both replace them and prevent more harmful plastic waste from making its way into our natural environment.  The problem with single-use plastic items is that we use them, we throw them out, and where they end up does not cross most people’s minds.  Here are some ways that you can help change that way of thinking.

Purchase a Reusable Water Bottle:

Plastic water bottles require vast amounts of fossil fuels to be made, contain chemicals harmful to humans such as BPA, and 6 out of every 7 plastic water bottles used do not ever make it to a recycling center.  The majority of these bottles are instead sent to a landfill where they remain for thousands of years or they make their way to our streams, rivers, and oceans to be where they contribute to the already overwhelming water pollution problem.  By switching to a reusable water bottle, you are keeping plastic out of the places that it does not belong.  Think bottled water is cleaner than what comes out of your facet?  The majority or bottled water is just tap water bottled on someone else’s land and brought to your local grocery store.  Chances are, it is just as clean as what you get at home.

Photo by Kelsey Harrison

Photo by Kelsey Harrison

Ditch the Straw:

Straws are one of those items that seem to make their way into our lives without us even realizing it.  Maybe your server placed one in your drink when you were out to eat, or maybe you grabbed one from the dispenser on a counter top after ordering a drink at a coffee shop without giving it a second thought.  Either way, 500 million straws are used daily in the U.S. and since they can not be recycled, they are making their way into some unwanted places. By simply saying ‘no straw please’ when you are out to eat you can do your part in reducing plastic waste.

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Bring Your  Own Bags:

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It is estimated that, worldwide, more than two million plastic bags are consumed and discarded per minute. That is approximately 1.3 trillion plastic bags annually. Both the creation and disposal of single use plastic bags is taking a heavy toll on freshwater and marine environments.  In many places across the U.S. and around the world, cities, states, and even countries have placed regulations on plastic bags such as fees or complete bans.  This is a response to the very apparent issue with single-use plastics.  They are items with short lifespans (from the store to home) and they cannot be recycled.  Next time you are preparing to go to the grocery store make sure that you have you reusable tote bags!

Pack Your Own Dinning Utensils: 

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Forks and knives might not be the first thing that you think of when you think about plastic pollution, but plastic dining utensils have a deep environmental impact.  Convenience is at the top of most  businesses’ and consumer’s reasons for using plastic utensils, but the truth is that they are very inconvenient when it comes to the resources needed to make them. This is because these pieces of cutlery cannot be recycled! That means that everything that was used to create these spoons, forks, knives, etc, is wasted the second that you are done using them to eat. Instead of using plastic utensils try packing your own reusable cutlery form home and simply washing them with your other dishes when you are done.  This way you can avoid adding more waste to our landfills.

Join the Past Plastic movement by taking the pledge here

Stay up-to-date with Cincinnati’s Past Plastic Campaign on Facebook and Twitter !

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What Can You Do?

Alternatives to plastic bags include:

  • cloth bags
  • boxes
  • “go commando” and carry out small orders.
  • Get creative!

Make sure to spread the word about the Past Plastic Pledge by telling your friends, family and local grocers/shops why you are choosing to go plastic free for the month of July!

To learn more about the issues associated with the use of single-use plastic bags, watch the video below.