10 Tips For Living With Less Plastic
Tips for living with less plastic
While the plastic epidemic is a mammoth issue, it’s easy to get discouraged and question ourselves if there is actually anything we can do personally to make a realistic difference.
While you may feel so small on our planet, your daily habits accumulate over time, and can add up to a big difference, especially when our habits and actions are picked up by our family members, and peers. There are a lot of people with similar interests in being more sustainable, so your efforts, with like-minded individuals can add up to a big impact.
Plastic waste pretty much ends up all over – on and off freeway onramps, in the ocean, in our landfill; it’s something that never really goes away. And when it’s out of site and out of mind, it’s still there, lingering somewhere, and has been since plastics were created, and will continue to remain there for quite a few generations after us. Not only is the pollution adding up, but it’s causing a negative side effect all around on human health, wildlife health, and the health of our planet Earth.
According to Ocean Crusaders, it’s estimated that plastic bags alone kill over 100,000 birds and marine animals a year. It’s now estimated that there are 5.25 TRILLION pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that mass, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea (1). When plastics break down due to waves, and sediment, it becomes so small that fish and wildlife start mistaking it as food and it begins the cycle of polluting not only their food chain, but ours as well.
We know that plastic is hard to avoid and get away with, I mean let’s face it –it’s almost 2018 and people still don’t know how giant this epidemic is! With a little education, and small changes, we can work together to help eliminate unnecessary plastic waste.
Creating small changes in your everyday life can reduce the plastic output waste that your lifestyle creates.
Join on us on a few small doable changes to help make a difference for our Earth:
1. B.Y.O.B – As in Bring Your Own Bag-
Sounds easy enough right? But we are human! We forget things, like our reusable bags when we make a spontaneous trip to the store. Try keeping a few stashed away in the trunk or door of your car, or opt into compactible ones so you can throw them in your laptop bag, backpack, or purse. Once this becomes a habit, you will be more disciplined at bringing your own bag to purchase your necessary items.
2. Use Non-Plastic Food & Beverage Containers-
Carry a reusable water bottle, they have so many different ones now, there’s no excuse not to have one that fits your style. Choose a reusable coffee cup, the majority of coffee joints even offer a discount if you bring your own tumbler or mug. Skip out on buying the plastic food containers for leftover – there are awesome glassware containers available, and mason jars or upcycled jars from pasta sauces, coconut oil, jam, etc. make great to go containers for a variety of breakfast and lunch options. One awesome perk to also using glassware for food storage, is that it won’t leach chemicals or toxins into your food once heated!
3. Avoid Convenience Foods –
I’m talking mostly about the quick frozen meals you can make. They have excessive packaging waste. The whole meal itself is in packaging that the majority of the time, isn’t even recycled. Got a Pinterest? No? Well I suggest making one or at least exploring it. They have tons of make ahead frozen meals that are a healthier option for your body, and for the Earth.
4.Use Natural Cleaning Cloths –
Opt in for a natural fiber cloth to clean instead of the popular scrub brushes you can find. Not only are these reusable, but they’re handy for more than just kitchen duties. These are also a healthy swap for petrochemical wipes you can buy in bulk – they aren’t soaked in chemicals and won’t create nearly half the waste as these chemical filled wipes will.
5. Know Which Plastic You Can Recycle -
Save your recycling center money & time by knowing which plastics can actually go in your bin and be recycled. This includes no plastic bags, no Styrofoam, and #7 plastic bottles or containers (keep in mind SOME #7's are biodegradable and compostable - usually you can tell or it clearly states this). (See guide here)
6. Wash Your Plastic Recyclables -
Make sure you wash out your recyclable containers like peanut butter jars & soda bottles. Don't worry about getting them sparkly clean, but they do need a quick rinse. When workers sort through recycling bins and items, most of the times they have to send soiled plastics (and papers contaminated by foods from plastics) to landfill.
7. Make Your Own Condiments –
Just open up your fridge – how many condiments bottles or containers do you have in there? Another reason why Pinterest, or a good recipe blog should be your friend. Making your own condiments is fairly simple, and way healthier for you! Store them in glass jars, and skip the accumulating cost of condiments and accumulating waste of their empty containers. From dressings, to relish, to chocolate sauce, become your own condiment master!
8. Shop in Bulk –
Buying in bulk saves packaging! The majority of super markets now have a bulk section – to see what stores near you have a bulk section, check out this link. Bring reusable bags to buy things like nuts, beans, or trail mixes. Ask your store if you’re able to bring your own glass jar or container for bulk purchases to really eliminate the need of plastic bags.
9. Avoid Non-Stick Cookware –
Nonstick cookware contains toxic perfluorochemicals that are released when it’s exposed to heat – which is primarily always when you cook with it! Replace it with cast iron – as cast iron will last for YEARS, and is just as good as a non-stick when taken care of properly. Stainless steel or copper cookware is also a good alternative to non-stick as well.
10. Share These Tips With Your Family & Friends –
It’s always useful to share with our loved ones why we make the choices we do regarding our lifestyle. Raise awareness by talking about the plastic pollution issue, and how you are doing your part to contribute to the reduction of it. This may spark inspiration in others to follow a more sustainable path.
- Gabriella De Luca