It’s summer at Seward Co-op, and we’re thinking about positive environmental impacts and our mission to sustain a healthy community. Single-use plastic has a negative impact on our environment, and some communities – particularly Black and brown and low-income – disproportionately experience the impacts of pollution and environmental degradation. In recent years, plastic packaging waste has been a topic of concern for many co-op owners. In response, we have used our voice to promote #PlasticFreeJuly. Since the inception of #PlasticFreeJuly in 2011, thousands have pledged to participate in a multitude of ways. This is one way to help mitigate the multitude of plastic waste that plagues both people and the planet.
#PlasticFreeJuly calls on consumers to eliminate or drastically reduce plastic consumption for the month of July. As many are already aware, more than half of the world’s waste is generated by 20 companies, with no end of plastic production in sight. So, while many co-op shoppers have some agency in chipping away at the plastic problem, it is not likely that we are going to recycle (or even refuse or reuse) ourselves out of this mess. The solution is going to require complex systemic change. This does not mean we give up, rather let’s dig in and educate ourselves on the complexities that surround plastic consumption. Within our communities, there is always more we can do together to combat plastic waste in our lives and contribute to a more equitable community.