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  • Viroqua Plastic Free

Take the Plastic Free July Challenge!

Plastic Free July 2023 is here and it is the perfect opportunity to accept the challenge of making one small change to reduce your and your family’s plastic consumption. Perhaps you have become more aware of the environmental and health risks associated with plastic but weren’t quite sure where to start. Or maybe you have made some significant changes in your life and just need this small reminder to continue looking for additional plastic-free habits.

Plastic Free July was started in 2011 as a grassroots effort by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz and a small group of participants from Western Australia. As a result of their commitment, Plastic Free July now involves millions of people in 177 countries around the world making the choice to refuse single-use plastic for a month…for a year…forever.

Here are four simple and three more challenging things you can “choose to refuse” during Plastic Free July.

PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS – If you don’t already have a reusable cloth bag, check out one of the seventeen businesses in Viroqua that carry Viroqua Plastic Free Choose to Reuse cloth shopping bags. Look for the list on the VPF website Action Alert ( Or Google the simple sewing instructions for making a shopping bag from an old T-shirt. Be sure to keep your bags next to the door or even in your vehicle so you are sure to have them handy when you go shopping. The average American uses and discards 500+ plastic shopping bags each year.

PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES – It doesn’t have to be a fancy stainless-steel bottle. A canning jar with a secure lid works just fine to carry your water with you wherever you go. Plastic water bottles are not only bad for the environment, but the toxic chemicals in plastic can leach into the liquid, especially if stored where it is very warm. Americans throw out approximately 35 billion plastic water bottles each year.

SINGLE-USE COFFEE CUPS – Just about everyone these days has a reusable to-go cup for their morning coffee. If you do not, it is a worthwhile investment that will last for years and keep your coffee warmer than the disposable choices. If you are a coffee aficionado, get in the habit of carrying your clean cup with you at all times. You never know when you will need a little caffeine boost. In the United States alone, over 16 billion disposable coffee cups are discarded annually.

PLASTIC STRAWS – If you or someone you know requires a straw to drink comfortably, by all means purchase a stainless-steel straw that can be used over and over. Don’t forget the handy cleaning brush to keep your straw sparkling clean. Plastic straws are often handed out at restaurants automatically, so speak up with a “no straw, please” when you order. The millions of plastic straws used daily in the U.S. are not recyclable.

Let’s get serious! If you have already made the plastic-free habits listed above a part of your usual routine, congratulations! Ready for a few more challenging Plastic Free July options?

PLASTIC PACKAGING – Discover the bulk bins at your local food cooperative or grocery store. Most stores offer grains, beans, flours, spices and more in large containers that allow you to take just the amount you need. Choose unpackaged fruits and vegetables in the produce aisle. Don’t forget to look for bulk personal care products, too, or choose bar soaps and shampoos over plastic bottle packaging. Be sure to bring your own cloth bags or jars for the items you purchase and remember to weigh your empty jar and write its weight on the lid so the cashier can deduct the weight of the container from your purchase. One-third of the garbage landfilled in the United States is packaging.

FOOD SCRAPS – Compost your food scraps in a compost pile in your backyard or look into purchasing a kitchen composter that turns food scraps into compost in a matter of hours. Food waste is the single most common material in U.S. landfills where it creates methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

PLASTIC BIN LINERS – No food in your trash bin means no smell because the contents are all dry. Instead of having to use plastic bin liners to contain the slimy, wet stuff, you will discover that you can use a paper shopping bag or nothing at all. It is estimated that the average American household uses 100 plastic trash bags each year…that’s about 12 billion trash bags used annually across the country.

Check out VPF's billboard on the East side of Hwy. 14 on the South side of Viroqua!


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