How Plastic Free July can help keep trash off streets & out of metro Detroit landfills

Posted at 8:18 AM, Jul 04, 2024

FERNDALE, Mich. (WXYZ) — Are you taking the 'Plastic Free July' challenge?

This is a global movement. The goal is to help millions of people learn how to keep trash out of our oceans, lakes, streams, and off our streets and out of our landfills.

We stopped by a local coffee shop — Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters in Ferndale — to talk about the 'Plastic Free July' challenge.

“Single-use plastics – a big problem. How are you tackling that?” I asked Nate Hammoud, the owner of the coffee shop.

“We do allow customers to bring in their own vessels," Hammoud said. "And as long as they’re in the right size range and stuff, we can figure out the ratios.”

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I asked Metro Detroiters how they are reducing plastic in their lives, and if they think they could do the Plastic Free Challenge.

“Well, whenever I go to the grocery story, I try to use re-usable bags," said Justin Weiss of Ferndale.

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“Yeah, probably. For a month, you can do anything for a month," said Stacie Woodward of Royal Oak. "I won’t even put a lid on this coffee.”

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For more inspiration, just down the street is 'Walking Lightly', Metro Detroit's first Refillery and Zero Waste shop that is plastic-free year round.

Three-and-a-half years ago, Tessa Benziger opened up this store, where people can bring their own container and fill it up, or use a donated jar.

I tried my hand at the hand soap station.

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”It comes out on the upswing," Benzinger said. "And you'll have to do it a couple times before the product starts coming out.”

And here, every refill counts.

We're never able to fully eliminate all plastics from our lives," Benziger said. "Our goal is to eliminate the single-use plastics and to sort of rethink so that we're reducing and reusing and refilling before recycling.”

She only works with suppliers who will take their containers back.

She says her store has refill options for just about everything, and solid options, too, like shampoo bars.

How it's slanted here, you just rub it directly on your scalp," Benziger said.

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You can also shop for stainless steel straws, compostable toothbrushes, even a tablet instead of toothpaste!

So you just pop one in your mouth and you chew it until it's foamy," Benziger said on the tablet.

Every effort adds up.

"I have reusable plastic bags in my trunk, and I forget half the time to bring them in to the grocery store," I told Benziger.

"We all do, we all do," Benziger replied with a laugh.

"I need to improve. So, I'm doing that. That is my pledge," I told her, promising to use those reusable bags instead of the plastic ones at the store.

Going plastic-free has to start somewhere.

The individual changes that we make collectively make a really big difference," Benziger said.

I asked her how people who want to try going plastic-free should start. She said to think about where the majority of your plastic waste comes from, and then start with that first.

If you'd like to take the Plastic Free July Challenge, you can learn more about it at this website. There, you can decide if you'll take part at your home, your workplace, a grocery store, or coffee shop, and learn more about the tips and tricks to make the challenge do-able.