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ROCKY RIVER, Ohio  — Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution.

The initiative provides free resources and ideas to help people around the world reduce single-use plastic waste every day at home, work, or school.

Lake Erie is a popular recreation spot and has undergone a dramatic transformation over the years when it comes to pollution, but the lake still faces a threat from things like un-recycled plastics.

“Unfortunately, if it does end out into the water, whether it’s ponds, lakes, streams or the or Lake Erie itself, it makes it even more difficult to try to recover those materials and then get them properly recycled,” said Dan Sowery, assistant environmental administrator for the Ohio EPA.

The mission is actually simple: recognize and take inventory of single-use plastics in your life and try to cut out one or two.

“It could be as simple as you say no to plastic bags at the grocery store and you have reusable ones that you use or saying no to a plastic straw at a restaurant,” said Rachel Regula, owner of Little Spark Refill Shop.

Regula’s shop offers zero-waste products and provides a spot for locals to bring in their own containers to refill bath and cleaning products, instead of purchasing new plastics that will later be thrown away. She opened the venture during the COVID-19 pandemic and has been blown away by the reception she’s received.

“All of the products that we have in the store are going to be free of synthetic fragrances that also could contain parabens,” Regula said. “They’re synthetic free, they’re silicone free. So everything is safe for you and also safe for the environment.”

The EPA estimates nearly 27 million tons of plastics ending up in landfills in 2018, with only three million tons of plastics being recycled. Regula is doing her to stay eco-friendly. Her goal is to make sustainability accessible to people who may feel overwhelmed with where to start.

One of the best ways to begin is to refill containers at home to help eliminate single-use plastics.

“It is very difficult in this day and age to be completely zero waste, but we’re always here to support people that are on that mission,” Regula said. “There is no specific month you need to start your sustainability, zero waste, no plastic journey, and every little step makes a huge difference.”

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