Plastic-Free July Recap

It's hard to believe that it's already August 1.  July is finished, summer is halfway done, it will be Thanksgiving before we know it!  I've posted several times on social media about Plastic-Free July, and since today marks the close of July, I thought it was a good time to reflect on our efforts - what went well, and where we can improve.

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First things first. What even is Plastic-Free July? 

Plastic-Free July is a global challenge that started in Australia in 2011 and has grown tremendously. For the whole month of July, each year, individuals and businesses can take the pledge to go plastic free. 

Our global use of plastic has skyrocketed in the past 50 years, resulting in contamination of waterways, harm to sea creatures, and even potential harm to human life.  Plastic molecules were found in 9 out of 10 reputable brands of bottled water in a study done earlier this year. It's scary to think about what ingesting even tiny plastic particles means for human health in the future.

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At Field & Gown, we pride ourselves on being a "green" company.  Almost our entire inventory of rentals was either found along it's journey to the landfill (often on the side of the road) and re-purposed, or purchased second-hand. Not to mention that renting instead of buying is always better for the planet because it discourages the acquisition of new stuff. 

But this month we tried to take it a step further. Where do we still have plastic, either in our supply chain, or our everyday lives, and how can we further reduce? Somethings went well, and others did not.

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On the positive side, we didn't use any disposable coffee cups, lids, stirrers, carriers, etc in the entire month of July. This meant bringing my own mug to WeddingWire World in DC and having to explain to Tim Chi, CEO of WeddingWire, why I'd brought my own.

In July we also made a pledge to stop using clear plastic string to hang our light hanging decor items, like terrariums or hanging votive holders, opting instead for rope twine. Twine is usually made out of a combination of cotton, wool and/or hemp, meaning it's naturally biodegradable. Plus you can find it unpackaged at the hardware store.

The biggest challenge this month actually came when trying to figure out how to reduce plastic in our shipping. We already ship our items wrapped in paper and use recycled (reused) boxes. Unfortunately, even though we opt for paper tape to seal our boxes, many of those pre-loved boxes have been sealed with plastic tape during their first use.  

We use UPS and FedEx to guarantee our delivery dates, but both companies require that the shipping label fit in a plastic envelope.  We requested to tape the label directly on the box, but we've found resistance. So that is something we're still trying to wrap our minds around.

Plastic-Free July is not just a month. It's an invitation, an opportunity, to raise awareness and make incremental changes for better health of the planet.  And just because July is over doesn't mean you must revert back to your old habits. We're trying to keep our experience in the front of our minds, continuing to build on it in the months and years to come.

 

 

 

 

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Anna Pollock is co-founder of Field & Gown, Executive Producer of the documentary film Disposable Addiction, and a public health professional. An environmentalista to the core, she lives a zero waste lifestyle and brings those principles to the core of the business.  Field & Gown is a wedding and event decor rental company based in the Washington DC area. 

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