July 9, 2018

The what and why of Plastic-Free July

Plastic-Free July made its debut in Perth, Australia in 2011. Since then, over 150 countries are participating in this event worldwide with hopefully more still to join. The mission is to reduce the use of plastic and improve recycling efforts.

Fossil Rim Recycling and Waste Conversion Intern Vanessa Hays shows the ideal way to shop for frozen food with her insulated freezer bag, which allows her to opt out of using traditional plastic grocery bags. Vanessa is making sure to capitalize on the timing of her internship by promoting others to join her in a Plastic-Free July.

The main goal is to raise awareness of the quantity of single-use plastic we use every day. The challenge is to limit the individual use of plastic.

Plastic is versatile and convenient, which is something we as people appreciate, but because of this convenient material we have created a long-lasting “gift” to the future – a huge sea of plastic. Plastic waste is the result of a habit created by society, and currently there are nearly 300 million tons of plastic produced every year – half of which is for single use – with more than eight million tons of plastic dumped into our oceans annually!

So, what can we do to make a difference? Do one person’s actions make a difference or is it only through a large-scale effort that change happens?

The answer to these questions is simply – yes. Yes, we can make a difference! Wehatetowaste.com wonderfully explains how people are becoming more mindful of what they discard and steps they can take to promote change.

Fossil Rim Recycling and Waste Conversion Coordinator Caitlin Pyle says #NoPlasticForProduce as she instead opts for a reusable mesh produce bag.

Yes, it matters if one person decides to alter his or her behavior in regards to recycling and plastic use; yes, it needs to occur on a large scale, as well. But, the best way to begin anything is by taking one step at a time. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is taking steps to enhance how effectively and efficiently we utilize our resources at both the individual level and organization-wide.

Make this July your first Plastic-Free July. If you have never considered ways to #ChooseToReduce plastic use, check out some of the challenges Fossil Rim is participating in this Plastic-Free July!

● We do not offer plastic bags at the Nature Store, but you will find reusable bags!

● We do not provide straws or lids at the Overlook Café, but guests are able to purchase a souvenir cup or bring their own reusable cup.

● Several of our departments are initiating their own group challenges, such as refusing plastic straws and implementing reusable straws.

As they visit Fossil Rim’s favorite barbecue joint, Hammond’s BBQ, Vanessa Hays (right) and Caitlin Pyle come prepared for leftovers by bringing their own reusable containers instead of the single-use, disposable kind, such as Styrofoam.

● As always, we participate in our facility recycling program by recycling bottles, cans, and cardboard, along with other nontraditional recycling. This summer, we are rolling out new-and-improved, education-focused recycling bins.

● We especially love educating and empowering our guests about the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling.

It all starts at the individual level. Personalize your challenge. It doesn’t have to be for the whole month – try a day or week. Work up to a whole month without plastic grocery bags – instead buy canvas bags.

Caitlin Pyle (left) and Vanessa Hays enjoy a cold drink on a hot day with their reusable souvenir cups and #MetalStrawsForAll at the Overlook Café.
Caitlin Pyle (left) and Vanessa Hays get ready for a shopping spree at the Nature Store with their reusable bags made from recycled materials or canvas. If they decided to head to the grocery store instead, these bags will also have them covered.

Try searching for items that are made from recycled products. I am challenging myself, along with the Fossil Rim Education Department and Fossil Rim Recycling & Waste Conversion Department, to refuse using at least one disposable plastic item we typically use every day. There is more enjoyment and fun in a challenge with friends, so who can you take the challenge with?

My point is – Plastic-Free July is what you make of it. Join the challenge; team up with Fossil Rim to refuse to use single-use plastic!

-Vanessa Hays, Recycling & Waste Conversion Intern 


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  • Excellent reminder that every step taken to reduce our footprint is a worthy improvement! I’ll make a commitment to reduce grocery bag use and will give up plastic straws.
    Thanks for your leadership!

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