Summer days often go hand-in-hand with disposable plastic items. July is the prime time for single-use plastics, whether it be beach drinks in plastic cups or plastic film popsicle wrappers. This month, we are focusing on reducing our single-use plastic consumption by learning from low waste mavens at this month’s Coffee and Climate and attempting to ditch single-use plastics for Plastic Free July.

Coffee & Climate: Low and Zero Waste Living

Join us Friday, June 10 from 9 to 10 a.m. for this month’s Coffee & Climate on low waste living. This month we will be joined by University of Maine’s Cindy Isenhour and GoGo Refill’s Laura Marsten to learn about the Scope 3 emissions impact of the new product market and how we can take individual responsibility by reducing our personal waste to the greatest extent possible. Bring all your zero waste questions and a cup of coffee to this exciting online event.

Sign up at

Pledge to be plastic free in July

The South Portland Sustainability Office is (attempting to be) plastic free this July and we want you to join us.


We get it, single-use plastics are everywhere; we are no exception to giving in to them. As an office, we acknowledge that this is going to be extremely difficult: Casey, our sustainability program manager, is a big fan of bagged salad kits. Julie, our sustainability director, routinely buys grapes in plastic clamshells. I am a sucker for an iced latte in a plastic cup and Cashel, our sustainable transportation coordinator, said to me, verbatim, “Do you ever just miss the feeling of a plastic bag?”

Everyone’s lives are intertwined with single-use plastics.

Our office is approaching Plastic Free July with humility and using it as an opportunity to recognize this difficulty, find what areas of our lives are dependent on single-use plastics and learn best practices from each other. Reach out to to sign up.

We will send out weekly emails sharing our plastic-free progress and prompts to get you thinking about your plastic-free journey, as well as seeking input from you at the end of July about your experience and takeaways. If you send us your story at the end, you will be included in a raffle for a gift card to some of your favorite local South Portland eateries.

Let’s share our goals, successes, and (inevitable mishaps) together. In addition, be sure to stay up to date with us on Instagram @soposustainability.

Getting started reducing your plastic


Wanting to transition to a more low waste lifestyle? Planning to join the SoPo Sustainability Office for Plastic Free July? Here are five impactful ways to start reducing waste (especially single-use plastics) today:

Be prepared: bring a reusable bottle, bag, and utensils everywhere. Dan King photo

(1.) Be prepared: bring a reusable bottle, bag, and utensils everywhere so you never have to ask for single-use.

(2.) Buy local and avoid online shopping (and when online shopping seems unavoidable, try to request no-plastic packaging).

(3.) Say no to straws in advance so they never even get to the table.

(4.) Bring plastic films to Hannaford or Shaw’s. While these materials are not recyclable through ecomaine, supermarkets collect plastic films to be turned into plastic decking.

(5.) Purchase wisely: when you are at the supermarket or store, think to yourself, ‘How is this item packaged? Is this a need or a want? Can I purchase something similar that is less wasteful?’


If there is one thing to remember, it is to be patient with yourself. Reducing single-use plastics is hard. It is also important to remember that completely reducing your single-use plastic consumption and being zero-waste is a privilege.

Plastic Free July, for us, is about reducing single-use plastics when it is accessible (and affordable) for you, and recognizing when it is not. Give yourself grace and patience. It is hard, and all efforts count.

Our Sustainable City is a recurring column in the Sentry intended to provide residents with news and information about sustainability initiatives in South Portland. Follow the Sustainability Office on Instagram and Facebook @soposustainability.

Mia Ambroiggio is a Greater Portland Council of Governments Resilience Corps Fellow serving in the Sustainability Office. She can be reached at

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