Wednesday, July 5, 2023

July is a Plastic-Free Month

By Sr. Marylou Rodriguez, CCVI

Proverbs 1:7 states that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."  Our knowledge and wisdom help us to become happy, healthy, and holy.  We strive to do what is right, good, and true.  We exist to uphold the dignity of every creature in this world.  We take care of what God has entrusted to us.  When we become aware of the reality, then, this becomes our basis for what we need to do.  We do not know where we are going if we do not know where we are going to start.

July is considered as the plastic-free month to advocate for a period in our year to make this world free of plastic pollution through our actions.  Since the time that I have been advocating for plastic-free life which starts by doing something concrete, I committed myself that at least I will be able to refuse contributing to plastics in our world.  I still have a few things to ponder so my life will truly be single-use plastic-free.  The goal is either progressive change or better yet  transformation.  I have already been transformed that plastic-free life is a life of freedom.  There will always be something better.  Start with what is possible and what you can do.

Some practices or good habits that I have developed are carrying reusable straw, utensils, sports bottle for drinking, refuse the single-use plastics in the supermarket or groceries by using my own, less meat and more vegetables, go for products or goods that have less packaging or no packaging such as opting to choose loose fruits than pre-packaged fruits in plastics, eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets than detergent in plastics, etc.  If I do not have the options of buying something with packaging, I use products that are packaged in biodegraable, earth-friendly bag or reusable container than in plastics or styrofoam.  However, some supermarkets do not have this biodegradable option, and thus, there is still some work to be done.  I also encourage my friends and famiy to do the same.

What are the motivations for a plastic-free life?  The plastics and styrofoam are non-biodegradable that eventually end up in landfill, ocean, or incinerator.  These contain harmful chemicals that when burned or when ingested may cause health issues.  The production of these materials requires a lot of carbon footprint (i.e. plastics are made from petroleum), and thus, this is a big contributor to Climate Change.  Since, it takes hundreds of years for these materials to decompose, we are saying to this world to accept the trash for that long for us to live in the convenience that we are used to.  It is for the oceans, landfills, our environment and all the creatures including humans that are impacted in all these spaces when we throw something that are designed to last for a long time.  You can find out the truth about what happens to plastics when we ingest it or have been exposed to its chemicals.  There are studies that are being conducted and have been conducted about its danger.  The next right action to do is to avoid using any of these as much as possible and encourage others to do the same.

I was walking in one of the trails in San Antonio coming from Phil Hardberger Park going to Salado Creek, when I saw plenty of plastic bottles, containers, including styro-foam packaging in the creek.  Once we get storms, and rains, the trash will eventually will be swept into the river and then, the ocean.  Being a good citizen, I reported it to the City of San Antonio's Parks and Recreation.  The staff of the Parks and Recreation said that they organize volunteer clean-ups to go after the trash that gets accumulated especially when there is a rain or flood.  As the Little Prince said, "you become responsible for what you've tamed".  In this case, we have to tame ourselves of the use of plastics and styrofoam and in essence, we become responsible for it.  We do not want to keep on seeing trash in our neighborhood nor keep on doing the clean-up.  If you are doing the clean-up, you will know at some point, that it must stop from the root cause.

The trash next to the trail going to Salado Creek

The plastics, styrofoam, and other trash along the creek

Take the challenge to have a plastic-free July or better yet a healthy lifestyle by having plastic-free life and be part of the solution to solve Climate Change and the plastic pollution: Plastic Free July – Be Part of the Plastic Pollution Solution.

Learn more about how the plastic end up in the oceans and its cost: The Ocean Cleanup.

If you have any suggestions or comments on how to have a (single-use) plastic-free life, please post a comment.