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Mackenzie Blevins's avatar

Mackenzie Blevins

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

"I will use July to focus on my personal and collective impact on the environment through education and action by reduction of plastic consumption."

POINTS TOTAL

  • 135 TODAY
  • 290 THIS WEEK
  • 1,920 TOTAL

participant impact

  • UP TO
    24
    advocacy actions
    completed
  • UP TO
    25
    conversations
    with people
  • UP TO
    141
    minutes
    spent learning
  • UP TO
    1
    plastic bottle
    not sent to the landfill
  • UP TO
    26
    plastic containers
    not sent to the landfill
  • UP TO
    72
    pieces of plastic cutlery
    not sent to the landfill
  • UP TO
    2
    pounds
    waste avoided
  • UP TO
    51
    whole food meals
    consumed

Mackenzie's actions

Study

Buy Only What I Need

I will not buy anything except items required for health and safety.

COMPLETED 7
DAILY ACTIONS

Bedroom

Rethink Returns

While most stores offer lenient return policies, what actually happens to all of those returns? I will spend 22 minutes learning about what happens to returns and how I can make better purchasing decisions to avoid returns in the future.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Bedroom

Sunshine Bleached

I will hang-dry my laundry to use the sun as a natural bleach alternative, or use another natural bleach alternative.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Bedroom

Eco Detergent

Ditch the plastic jugs, artificial dyes, and harmful ingredients! When it's time to replace my current laundry detergent, I will switch to a natural laundry detergent that is packaged in glass or aluminum, or an alternative like soap nuts.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Kitchen

Take the pre-survey!

Help us make the Plastic Free Ecochallenge the best it can be! Take the challenge pre-survey (and look out for the post-survey at the end of the challenge!) so we can better understand the impact the challenge has and how we can improve in the future. Plus, you'll earn points for completing it! Thank you!

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Community

Research Local Waste Sites

I will spend 11 minutes finding out where landfills and/or toxic waste sites are situated in my region and which communities are most impacted by these sites.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Study

Learn about Plastic Production

Plastic production, not just disposal, pollutes communities and harms people. I will learn about the impacts of plastic production on humans, animals, communities, and the environment.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Study

Estimate Your Ecological Footprint

I will calculate my ecological footprint, and from the results brainstorm and take action on ways I can reduce my annual footprint.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Family + Pets

Discover Together

I will spend 30 minutes educating my family on the basics of living a reduced/no-plastic lifestyle.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Community

I will bring recycling into work

My apartment complex does not do recycling. I will bring my recycling into work to ensure that it doesnt have to end up in the landfill

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Community

Give Some Green Gratitude

Don't forget to celebrate the good! This month, I will give shout-outs on social media, my office's internal communication channels, or the Participant Feed to a local company, coworker, friend, or family member for their sustainable efforts.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Study

Recycle My Tech

There's value in our old electronics! This month, I will properly recycle any old laptops, tablets, cell phones, or other electronics I have lying around so the raw materials can be reused and reduce demand for virgin materials - thereby also protecting critical wildlife habitat for animals such as gorillas and forest elephants.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Study

Numbers Everywhere

The numbers #1-7 on plastics tell us a lot - and can help us be better recyclers. I will learn what these numbers mean and which types of plastics are accepted for recycling in my area.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Bedroom

Declutter Sustainably

While it can be tempting to throw away (or drop off at Goodwill) any and everything that no longer brings us joy, there are so many options that are better for the planet! This month, I will declutter my home and properly dispose or re-home the things I no longer want.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Bedroom

Practice Sustainable Fashion

I will spend 19 minutes learning about the costs of fast fashion and begin trying to practice sustainable fashion in my own life.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Bedroom

Natural Fibers

When available, I will purchase clothing and bedding made with natural fibers, such as cotton, linen, or wool, rather than synthetic fibers.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Bedroom

Mend and Repair

We've all got it - that thing in the back of our closet we keep saying we'll fix "one day." I will make today that day by learning how to mend or repair ripped or broken items in my home - or by finding a local offering to do it for me.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Bathroom

See the Green

An estimated 50,000lbs (23,000kg) of contact lenses end up in sewage sludge in the US each year. This month, I will learn how to recycle used contact lenses and packaging or switch to wearing glasses instead.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Kitchen

Whole Foods Meals

Prioritizing whole foods is one of the most effective ways to avoid single-use plastic in the kitchen, since most whole foods can be purchased without any packaging. This month, I will prepare 1 whole foods-based meals at home each day.

COMPLETED 20
DAILY ACTIONS

Kitchen

Dive Into Expiration Dates

Just because something is past its "expiration date," it might not actually be expired! I will spend 10 minutes learning about the difference between best by, use by, and sell by dates and how to tell if my food is actually expired.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Study

Say No to Styrofoam

Throughout its life cycle, polystyrene (styrofoam) can harm people, communities, and the planet. I will refuse styrofoam whenever I can, making sure to kindly let people know why I'm asking for alternative packaging.

COMPLETED 20
DAILY ACTIONS

Study

Borrowed Books

The average paperback book has the same carbon footprint of driving about 7 miles (11 km) in an average car. Instead of purchasing new books this month, I will borrow books, e-books, and/or audiobooks from my local library or library-affiliated apps, or host a book swap with my friends.

COMPLETED 20
DAILY ACTIONS

Family + Pets

Rubber Glove Pet Hair Removal

I will use a rubber glove to remove pet hair from clothes, carpets and furniture.

COMPLETED 20
DAILY ACTIONS

Family + Pets

Balloons Blow

Although a long-standing festive tradition, balloons are harmful for animals and the environment. I will spend 15 learning about the dangers of balloons and find eco-friendly alternatives to use instead.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Bathroom

A Greener Shower

Most conventional shower curtain liners are made from polyvinyl chloride (or PVC), which contains chlorine, phthalates, and plasticizers, and typically need replaced often. When it's time to replace my shower curtain liner, I will replace it with a plastic-free option and research the best ways to care for it.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Bathroom

Travel Toiletries

Travel-size toiletries aren't just more expensive per ounce, they also have a higher plastic-to-contents ratio, and result in over 980 tonnes (2.2 million pounds) of plastic waste each year. If traveling this month, I will reuse my old travel tubes to refill with my soaps or only bring bar soaps with me.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Bathroom

A Sustainable Flow

Pads and tampons are typically made with plastics, and about 41 million pounds of menstrual products end up in landfills every year. This month, I will make the switch to sustainable, reusable period products.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Bathroom

Say No to "Flushable Wipes"

Even when advertised as "flushable" these wipes don't break down in sewer systems, but instead combine with fat to create massive clogs. This month, I will find alternatives to using disposable wipes.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Bedroom

Clean the Dryer Vent

Every time we tumble dry our laundry, our clothes' lifespans get a little shorter. The lint trap is evidence of the shedding fibers and our clothes slowly losing their quality. The less time our clothes need to be in the dryer, the longer they'll last. So this month, I will clean my dryer's interior and exterior air vents to help the dryer work more efficiently (and extend the life of the dryer!).

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Bedroom

Ditch Dryer Sheets

Plastic sheets coated in softeners, lubricants, and fragrances, dryer sheets just aren't great for the planet or our bodies. Instead, I will use wool dryer balls or another plastic-free alternative to dryer sheets to keep my clothes static-free.

COMPLETED
ONE-TIME ACTION

Bedroom

Multiple Wears Before Washing

The simple, necessary, daily act of washing our clothes slowly degrades the quality of our clothes due to the friction involved in the process. To extend the life of my clothes, whenever possible, I will wear items multiple times before washing.

COMPLETED 20
DAILY ACTIONS

Bedroom

Use What You Have

The only thing worse than a single-use item is a zero-use item! I will use (and use up) what I already have in my home before buying something new.

COMPLETED 20
DAILY ACTIONS

Kitchen

Use Reusable Utensils

Whether I'm at work, on the go, or having food delivered, I will keep 4 plastic cutlery out of the landfill per day by using my own reusable cutlery.

COMPLETED 20
DAILY ACTIONS

Participant Feed

Reflection, encouragement, and relationship building are all important aspects of getting a new habit to stick.
Share thoughts, encourage others, and reinforce positive new habits on the Feed.

To get started, share “your why.” Why did you join the challenge and choose the actions you did?

  • REFLECTION QUESTION
    Study Learn about Plastic Production
    What did you learn about how plastic production impacts humans, animals, communities, and the environment? Which of these impacts specifically affects your community?

    Mackenzie Blevins's avatar
    Mackenzie Blevins 7/20/2024 9:58 AM
    Living in a beach town has allowed me to see the direct impact of plastic pollution on the beach, and the dangers posed to humans and animals.
  • REFLECTION QUESTION
    Family + Pets Balloons Blow
    Had you ever considered the environmental impact of balloons before? How can you share this information with your friends and family to encourage them to avoid balloons, too?

    Mackenzie Blevins's avatar
    Mackenzie Blevins 7/20/2024 9:55 AM
    I have tried to move away from balloons when at all possible, and really emphasize the impact had on wildlife. Working with animals has allowed me to really get this message across and has successfully convinced friends and family to choose other options to celebrate.
  • REFLECTION QUESTION
    Family + Pets Discover Together
    What concerns you the most about how we are affecting the planet? Consider both local and global actions.

    Mackenzie Blevins's avatar
    Mackenzie Blevins 7/20/2024 9:54 AM
    I don't believe that the way that we currently treat our planet is at all sustainable. My biggest concern lies in the rate at which we consume without the thought of where the materials and resources come from, and where they will go once we are done with them. Globally, there seems to be the thought that waste can always be sent somewhere else, and that there is always space for more. This ends up impacting lower income countries more, also leading to an unbalanced society.
  • REFLECTION QUESTION
    Community Give Some Green Gratitude
    There are many pros and cons to social media use in today's society. How can you mindfully use social media as a tool for connection and sharing your values with your community?

    Mackenzie Blevins's avatar
    Mackenzie Blevins 7/20/2024 9:50 AM
    Social media use has often times turned into a tool to promote consumption. Products are shared with intent to influence others to purchase and there seems to always be a push to buy more. However, I personally have learned about great new sustainable products and ideas on social media. I also have started great conversations with others based on posts shared or articles sent via social media.
  • REFLECTION QUESTION
    Bedroom Mend and Repair
    Time to brag! Show us a photo of what you repaired and tell us about the experience!

    Mackenzie Blevins's avatar
    Mackenzie Blevins 7/20/2024 9:49 AM
    I have sewn together a throw pillow that was ripped by my dog, and when jeans rip on the legs, I will turn them into shorts instead of throwing them away!
  • REFLECTION QUESTION
    Bedroom Natural Fibers
    What are the benefits (to people, animals, and the environment) of purchasing clothes made with natural fibers?

    Mackenzie Blevins's avatar
    Mackenzie Blevins 7/20/2024 9:48 AM
    Purchasing clothes with natural fibers not only prevents polyester filaments and other plastic based fabrics from being used, but the clothes typically last longer and feel better, meaning you are likely to use less. Things like wool don't require taking an animals life and is a more sustainable option than plastic based fibers.
  • REFLECTION QUESTION
    Bedroom Declutter Sustainably
    Compared to your previous experiences with decluttering, how was this experience with sustainable decluttering different?

    Mackenzie Blevins's avatar
    Mackenzie Blevins 7/15/2024 5:34 AM
    Really considering where my items will go is a helpful way to declutter in a sustainable way. Instead of automatically donating things to a place like goodwill, where realistically all of it will not be resold and likely most could end up in the trash, I have started to think about if I can post in a "free, trade" group for my city, or give it to a friend who needs it.
  • REFLECTION QUESTION
    Bedroom Ditch Dryer Sheets
    Often, single-use and disposable products don't just create more trash - they also contain toxins that are bad for humans. What are some other single-use items that are harmful to humans?

    Mackenzie Blevins's avatar
    Mackenzie Blevins 7/14/2024 7:30 AM
    Receipt paper has been tested and can leave traces of plastic on our hands. As more companies move towards digital receipts this might lesson the danger, but until then I try to ask for no receipt whenever possible!
  • REFLECTION QUESTION
    Study Borrowed Books
    Libraries have immense benefits for society. What are some cool resources your library has that might not be as well-known as book borrowing? What are some ways you advocate for libraries and share these resources with your community?

    Mackenzie Blevins's avatar
    Mackenzie Blevins 7/14/2024 7:28 AM
    I love the library! I can get board games, surfboards, study rooms, craft lesson subscriptions and so much more! I tell all of my friends to get a library card and try to go at least once a week.

    • Brittany Murphy's avatar
      Brittany Murphy 7/14/2024 1:35 PM
      And the community events the library has for groups of all ages! I recently found my library card again, and will be utilizing it more !

    • Kaitlin Grell's avatar
      Kaitlin Grell 7/14/2024 7:30 AM
      Don't forget about the free seeds you can get!
  • REFLECTION QUESTION
    Study Say No to Styrofoam
    How might styrofoam be an environmental justice and/or environmental racism issue in your community?

    Mackenzie Blevins's avatar
    Mackenzie Blevins 7/14/2024 7:27 AM
    Styrofoam is typically offered as a low cost option for fast food or takeaway containers. In food deserts, where there is a higher proportion of fast food or quick service, cheaper restaurants, and a lower proportion of fresh options, it is more likely to see Styrofoam offered as the only option, and then in connection more Styrofoam waste going into these communities. This issue typically impacts people of color more often, which is why it is important to address the root causes.