Our team's reflection on Plastic Free July

          The Alter Eco Team was challenged to take part in Plastic Free July, a global movement aimed at reducing the amount of single use plastic purchases. The team had great conversations about where they commonly used plastics and shared information about plastic-free alternatives.  Below are a few team members’ experiences and what they focused on during July.  

Mike Forbes- CEO 

During Plastic Free July, I focused my efforts on determining where I was finding single use plastics in my food purchases. I then came up with more planet-friendly solutions. 

1. Sometimes healthy items (like fruit & lettuce) have a surprising amount of plastic! Every berry and salad green I purchased at the beginning of the month was surrounded by a plastic clamshell that was impossible to reuse and had dubious recycling options.  

Solution:  Purchase produce at the Farmers Market! Not only is it fresher, but I also found that farmers used paper and cardboard packaging.  

2. Meat has the same issue! Every piece of meat I bought was wrapped in plastic. 

Solution: Purchase meat from a local butcher shop and eat less meat. Butchers tend to wrap in paper and buying from a local butcher shop also helps to understand where the meat is sourced from.   Additionally, I'm hoping to switch to more veggie forward recipes.  

3. Planes and airports are filled with single use plastic.  During my recent travels, I forced myself to take a separate trip to the garbage for each piece, which really sunk in. 

Solution: Plan better next time and bring your own snacks in reusable containers. 

4. I use dinner kits when I'm busy and they are filled with small servings of food in single use plastic containers.

Solution: Stock up the pantry and freezer so you don’t default to these anymore! 


Lanae Pierson- Executive Assistant/ Sales Coordinator

I had many takeaways from Plastic Free July to help me avoid future single use plastic! One of my major ones was that convenience comes at a cost. Many of the times I used plastic during July was when I needed a quick solution: ordering at a drive-through without consciously thinking about the amount of plastic in my takeout, grabbing sides for a picnic at the grocery store, and using free item coupons for purchases that consequently came in plastic containers. I realized that more planning would help prevent this. Another important thing I learned was to have courage to ask for plastic-free options. Everyone I asked was very accommodating. I said no to plastic straws and cutlery by bringing reusable alternatives, asked for sauce on the entrée rather than in a plastic cup, and skipped the lid to my drinks.  I also found that avoiding plastic helped me make healthier food decisions.  The items at the grocery store with the least amount of plastic packaging were fruits and vegetables! I brought my own produce bags and incorporated more plants into my diet than usual. My biggest culprit was takeout containers, which often contained unhealthy foods. I want to use what I’ve learned during Plastic Free July to make more conscious, plastic-free decisions in the future.  


Margaret Mannion- Senior Marketing Manager

I just moved into a house with a yard, so I made setting up my compost system my first priority. I’m lucky to live in a city that prioritizes composting.  Similar to trash and recycling, my local waste company picks up a bin of compost every other week for a relatively low cost. Additionally, I was provided with an educational pamphlet with information about what types of materials can and can’t be composted, what should be sent to the city compost, and what can easily be kept in a home garden compost. In addition to the large compost bin for city collection, I have a small countertop bin and a 65-gallon backyard compost tumbler. I fill and empty the countertop bin into my compost tumbler at least every other day.  The only items I put in the city compost bin are food containers, large amounts of paper, yard waste, and commercial facility compostable items.  I do my best to keep as much in the backyard compost as possible because I'm aiming to start a food garden next spring and want a large amount of nutrient-dense top soil. It's amazing to see how little actual trash my husband and I produce now that we compost all of our food scraps and compostable packaging materials! 

          Plastic Free July doesn’t mean you should go back to your old habits once August rolls around. PFJ is meant to challenge yourself, learn from your consumption habits, and make the necessary changes going forward. Whether that’s shopping consciously, repurposing plastic, or composting, our team is committed to living a more plastic free lifestyle. “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” Anne Marie Bonneau, Zero Waste Chef 

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