[embed-1]In place of the popular Strawless Summer Campaign for 2019, Charleston Surfrider wants you to know there is still much to be done in the fight to protect our beaches, oceans, and waterways.

Jana Davis, the ocean friendly restaurants coordinator for Charleston Surfrider, has compiled a list of tips and tricks for reducing plastic consumption at home and on the go.

This year, Davis says, Surfrider wants you to stand firm and simply refuse to use single-use plastics.

Before diving into all of the ways single-use plastics can be avoided, she wants to shed light on two particularly important points: how we’ve gotten to this point and why these plastics are harmful to our health.

“I think as a whole, many people give themselves permission to use single-use plastics,” says Davis. We’ve all heard the excuses, the little voice in our head that whispers “Well, I recycle” as we reach for a plastic straw to sip our iced coffee … in a plastic cup. But while we’re polluting the environment with these plastics, what we’re failing to realize is the harm we are doing to our own bodies by using these materials.

Many plastics used for everyday consumption contain chemicals such as BPAs, known as endocrine disrupters that mimic the way a hormone works. When in contact with heat, these chemicals are going right through our straws and into our mouths. Even products that preach “BPA-free” can be replacing these chemicals with others that are still harmful.

So, what are the alternatives?

Paper and biodegradable straws and cups are becoming increasingly common, but Davis emphasizes that sometimes they are no better. All in all, while these products deter the public from plastic, they are still ending up in our waterways. Davis recommends consumers do some research of their own into bioplastics.

“Don’t substitute a new offender for an old offender,” she says.

But not all is lost. The real alternative is, again, to refuse.

Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Restaurant program helps businesses reduce single-use plastics by providing them only upon request. Encouraging restaurants and others to adopt this mentality urges consumers to take matters into their own hands, hoping that the habit expands into their daily lives.

Next, consumers can ditch the grocery bags. No, not entirely. Just ditch the plastic ones. Davis explains that she’s even tested the efficiency of using your own shopping bag. Turns out, for about every six plastic bags, she uses one larger, reusable one. 

Additionally, stop buying bottled water. Plastic water bottles are a big source of waste. Opt for a glass or stainless steel bottle of your own instead.

The same idea applies to coffee cups. Baristas will happily pour your morning drip into a reusable mug. In fact, they’d save money doing it. Some coffee shops even offer discounts for bringing your own.

Lastly, refuse a straw. This is probably the most notable way to contribute, but it isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Many cafes are beginning to sell stainless steel straws themselves. In the case that your local coffee joint doesn’t, it’s time to find your own. No need to ask for a straw if you make it a habit to bring your own (environmentally friendly, plastic-free) straw.

It’s quite simple, really. Become informed about biodegradables. Invest in your own reusable products. Refuse single-use plastics.

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