The way we live actually adds to the global waste problem. And the sad thing is: we don’t think much about it. We take our own actions for granted, not knowing that they affect the environment around us.
Take the simple act of shopping for groceries. You choose the items you need including beverages in plastic bottles, fruits in disposable plastic trays, or vegetables covered in cling wrap. You put all these in a large plastic bag. Once you get home and unload all your groceries, you throw away all those plastic containers.
All those plastics must end somewhere, and unfortunately, they often end in the environment where they do untold damage.
Make no mistake about it; plastic is a great innovation. But it’s the single-use nature and its inability to decompose for a long period of time that makes this material an environmental nightmare.
Tips in Reducing Plastic Usage
According to current recycling statistics, we are presently dumping 2 billion tons of waste material a year into the environment. Experts estimate that waste generating is going to increase up to a whopping 70% by 2050. This is such a grim statistic, and it’s alarming to know that we’re producing more waste material than the world can handle.
Unfortunately, the low price, ease of production, and practicality of plastics mean that we can’t actually stop using plastic. However, we can definitely lessen our use of such a pollution-inducing material right in our households. Here are some tips on how to do so:
Bring your own recyclable shopping bag
Rather than relying on store-issued shopping bags for your groceries, why not use a recyclable one? Many are made of tough fabric that can withstand hundreds or even thousands of shopping trips. Do you know what’s cool? Recyclable bags are already forming a fashion statement. Such bags may feature cool designs and accessories; in fact, they don’t look like shopping bags at all!
If you really need to use a plastic shopping bag, don’t just throw them away. You can reuse them as trash liners, storage for stuff, waterproof liner for gadgets when you travel, and many more. Smaller ones can be used as poop bags for your pets.
Of course, you can reuse them as shopping bags. Plastic bags are often surprisingly durable and can be reused many times.
Bring your own lunch boxes and tumblers
One of the biggest contributors to plastic waste is single-use disposable boxes for storing foodstuff and plastic bottles for storing beverages. But you can easily help reduce the use of these plastic packaging materials by using your own lunch boxes and thermos bottles. There are literally endless designs to choose from, and some even have awesome features.
Take for instance the Japanese bento box. The box is often divided into compartments where you can store different viands. Some even come with reusable containers to store liquid food such as soups, gravies, and sauces. There are also bento boxes that come with slots for forks, spoons, and chopsticks.
What about reusable bottles? Check out stores that sell mountaineering and camping equipment; often they also sell very tough and rugged reusable bottles designed for outdoor use. There are also insulated water containers and thermoses that can keep hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold. And those containers are just the start. Manufacturers are really getting creative with things such as self-stirring mugs or water bottles with built-in heaters.
Avoid single-use plastic utensils
We often use plastic spoons, forks, knives, and cups. They’re still perfectly usable after one use, but we throw them away without a care. This action adds to the already massive pile of plastic in our environment.
A more eco-friendly and sustainable way is to avoid these plastic utensils together and use reusable utensils. The stainless steel spoons, forks, knives, and chopsticks you have in your cupboard are perfectly fine to use or bring anywhere; just put them in a small pouch. Or you can go to shops that sell outdoor adventure equipment. They often have ultra-light, ultra-storing reusable utensils made of high-tech materials such as anodized aluminum or carbon graphite.
Ditch the plastic straws because you actually don’t need them. Simply drink from a glass or bottle. If you absolutely need a straw, use a recyclable one made of bamboo or stainless steel. Keep them as part of your bring-anywhere utensil pouch.
If possible, keep food deliveries to a minimum
When you have food delivered to your home, it’s often wrapped in plastic or Styrofoam, which are highly polluting materials.
Therefore, we highly encourage your family to cook and prepare home-cooked meals, which are often tastier and healthier than delivered ones. If this is somehow impractical, take your family to a restaurant and have your meal there. Not only will you be reducing the need for plastic but you’ll also help the local business.
Don’t forget to bring your recyclable lunch box whenever you go out. You can ask the restaurant to pack your leftovers in your lunch box rather than have them packed in a plastic bag.
Buy and use recyclables
One of the best things about the Internet is that people have become aware of just how serious the plastic problem is. Thus, many manufacturers, multinational corporations, and even small businesses are getting hooked to the Green Revolution. Meaning, they’re creating products that are not made of plastic materials. Bamboo toothbrushes, silicone menstrual cups, stainless steel pens—buy these recyclable products.
Check out your cupboard as well. Most likely, you’ll have recyclable and reusable items such as glass jars, wine bottles, tin cans with covers, and many more. Make use of them and help save the environment.
Plastic is here to stay – it’s important to acknowledge that. What we need to do is to use this material responsibly, knowing that plastic is non-biodegradable and highly polluting. We can all start a reduced and responsible usage of plastic right in our own homes by following these practical and easy pointers listed above.
By Lillian Connors