Futuristic February — Refuse a Future with Single-Use Plastic

Carly Bergman's recycling

Collect your recyclables for the month of February, then post a photo on social media with #FuturisticFebruary. You will be in shock when you realize how much waste you accumulate in just one month!

Last year I went to Nicaragua for an entire month to learn Spanish and teach English. During my time there, I was inspired by fellow eco-tourists to minimize my waste by refusing, reducing and reusing. Nicaragua, like many developing countries, does not have a proper waste disposal system. The country burns all of its waste, including recyclables and plastic.

After my month spent in Nicaragua, I was able to fit all of my recyclables in a small plastic bag and bring them on the plane home with me to dispose of them properly. I made this happen by simply thinking twice about buying a granola bar with a wrapper, refusing to use a plastic bag, refusing plastic straws, and not using paper towels when unnecessary. As an environmentalist and holistic-health enthusiast, it clicked for me that I couldn’t call my lifestyle sustainable while still using plastic regularly.

When I returned from Nicaragua I created a campaign called #FuturisticFebruary. The campaign challenge includes asking people to save all the recyclable materials they use during the month of February and post a photograph of their collections on social media February 28 with the #FuturisticFebruary hashtag. After posting, of course, recycle all those aluminum cans, plastic bottles and other items. I encourage everyone and anyone to participate in Futuristic February in order to help heal the planet. The idea is to raise awareness of pollution and over-consumption.

After my travels, I was motivated to implement a change in my lifestyle considering I was living in a hostel that was starting to deteriorate due to rising sea levels. It made me extremely upset to think about how much we consume as Americans and do not recognize the detrimental effects it has on the environment and surrounding countries. The small islands in Nicaragua experience climate change firsthand and their land is being destroyed by erosion and increasing sea levels. If we do not change our ways, our future will be similar!

Carly Bergman with her worm composter

All of my fruit and veggie peels go straight into my worm composter. Always!

The best way to reduce your waste is simply to buy products that are reusable. Things like bamboo toothbrushes, mesh grocery bags, reusable bottles, glass straws, and compostable dish brushes are all great options. I have a Gardener’s Supply Worm Farm Composter that I use daily! I eat a plant-based diet and all of my fruit and veggie peels go straight into my composter for my red wigglers to enjoy. I use the finished compost in my Gardener’s Supply GrowEase Seed Starter when I start seeds during the winter!

There is much to learn! Every day I discover new ways to live in a more sustainable way. For example, I carry a reusable bowl and mug so I’m prepared when I’m ordering an acai bowl or heading to a coffee shop, in case they don’t provide reusable options.

My best advice is to keep a dedicated “sustainability bag” with you at all times. Mine includes mesh grocery bags, reusable mugs and bowls, a metal to-go tin, glass straws, reusable water bottles, and bamboo utensils. My guilty pleasure is eating acai bowls a couple times a week so I always leave a reusable bowl and bamboo spoon in my car!

Another good minimal-waste shopping option is to put food from a store’s bulk bins straight into reusable bags. This eliminates the need for plastic bags — and buying in bulk is much cheaper, too! What’s better than reducing your carbon footprint while saving money in the process?

My goal is to have as little impact on the planet as possible, while bettering myself and the environment. Going “minimal waste” isn’t easy, especially at first because you have to break loose of old habits. It truly is a journey, but it’s completely necessary in order to heal the planet. Every effort to make the planet a cleaner place counts!

—Carly Bergman

I am Carly Bergman, a student finishing up my degree in Integrated Studies with a focus on sustainability and eco-spirituality. I grew up in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago where I had the opportunity to work at a lovely juice bar, Pure Juice Cafe. I credit this 5-year job with helping me find my passion for health, sustainability, spirituality, and environmentalism. I now live in Fort Myers, Florida, where I work with the vegan protein bar company, Planet Protein, as well as work with Florida Edible Landscaping, a company that emphasizes permaculture and organic horticulture.

I personally invite you to participate in Futuristic February or minimal-waste living to simply be mindful of reducing waste and living more sustainably. I will be adding new posts about zero-waste living as well as plant-based living to my Instagram page, @Carly_Bergman.

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