The entire world is wrapped up in plastic, and we’re not just talking about our plastic lifestyles or plastic attitude but the actual plastic that has sunk-in so deeply in every aspect of our living that we don’t even realize that we are destroying our planet almost every minute of our lives.
As much as a boon it was when invented, plastic is now slowly plaguing our planet and has become a real threat to the entire ecosystem by being its usual self – non-biodegradable and toxic.
In the recent decades, plastic has become a staple of convenience and a modern lifestyle. If you’re thinking how that bothers us, here’s the answer – in the last six decades alone, we have managed to produce over 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic. 76% of this has turned into waste, while a mere 9% of this got recycled (now you understand why recycling is not enough?). It can take up to 450 years for a plastic item to break down, and some of it won’t biodegrade at all.
If you think these numbers are alarming, we have some more for you. Plastic is increasingly finding its way into our oceans and, in fact, 90% of the waste floating on our oceans’ surface today is plastic. According to a report published by the World Economic Forum, by 2050 the amount of plastic trash in the ocean will outweigh all the fish that exists.
It’s not just the planet, plastic is also messing with our health as we are unknowingly breathing and eating plastic every day. So, what’s the problem? The chemicals found in plastic have been linked to adverse health effects and have been known to be the cause of everything from cancer to obesity by disrupting our hormones.
Now, you don’t have to be an environmentalist to combat this issue. Even small changes like choosing reusable shopping bags and water bottles can make a huge impact in solving the plastic problem that’s affecting our lives. Besides, once you get used to living a more conscious lifestyle your plastic nirvana may not be too far either.
Scroll down for some more easy tactics to protect yourself and our planet from the plastic-problem that’s real.
Carry your own reusable water bottles
While it may be a matter of convenience to simply pick up a water bottle (made of plastic), when we’re outside home you may want to reconsider it after you read this – a million disposable water bottles are bought around the world every minute and lesser than 7% of it is recycled. Shocked? So are we.
Just imagine the amount of plastic use that can be reduced by simply carrying our own water bottles! So the next time you’re heading out from home, don’t forget to carry your own reusable bottle in your bag and ensure that it is eco-friendly too. Ah, and don’t be tempted by the free water bottle at your gym or office.
We love the chic water bottles from YuhMe made from sugarcane (no we’re not kidding). They are world’s most eco-friendly bottles and are truly gorgeous. They are super light (unlike glass bottles), are unbreakable and are produced with a negative carbon footprint. Plus, for every bottle sold, the company donates 1-year of clean drinking water to someone in need in Africa.
Switch to eco-friendly disposable cutlery, straws, cups and plates
Even British Prime Minister Theresa May propagates the elimination of plastic straws and cutlery and will soon be implementing taxes and charges on these as a part of her mission to eliminate all avoidable plastic within the next 25 years. To take the lead, she has also instructed the removal of all single-use plastic from central government offices, which means no more plastic cups or cutleries. If she can do it, so can we.
Next time you go to the supermarket, look out for biodegradable versions of disposable plates, cutlery, and straws, like plates and cutlery made from sugarcane, fallen palm leaves, birchwood or bamboo. Make it a habit to carry your own cutlery in your bag, so if you plan to do a takeaway you don’t have to indulge in plastic. Same goes for coffee mugs. Let’s assume you consume two coffees a day on an average, calculate the number of disposable coffee cups you use as a single person in a year! So, no more using plastic or polystyrene cups at the office or the coffee shop. Instead, either carry your own container or sit down and drink at the café in their regular mug. Oh, did we tell you that the plastic lid on the coffee mugs is made using styrene – a chemical substance that causes cancer? All the more reason to ditch the plastic mug at the coffee shop.
And straws? In the US alone, 500 million straws are used every day and they’re not just a cause for pollution, but also dangerous to marine life. Most often, they are unnecessary. Drinking from the glass is just as convenient. Switch to “NO MORE STRAWS” lifestyle and encourage your friends to do the same. However, if you must, why not buy your own re-usable steel or glass straw and add it to your cutlery pouch? Don’t worry you won’t look like a weirdo because from LA to London carrying your own cutlery has become an “it” thing, thanks to social media influencers who are promoting the cause.
Replace the plastic kitchen containers with glass and steel
Have you ever wondered how our kitchens looked before plastic was invented? Stainless steel and glass jars are a great alternative to storing food items in the kitchen and they’re healthier too! The chemicals in the plastic containers gradually release and sink into the foods it stocks – especially fatty acids or acidic foods. So it’s not just important that you ditch plastic containers from an ecological perspective, do it for your health and well-being too.
Next time your plastic container wears out, replace it with airtight containers made from stainless steel, glass and other non-toxic materials that are easy on the earth. Even clay is a great option. When you shop for items like almond butter, ketchup and other items that come in a container, make sure to pick one that’s packed in glass and not plastic. You can re-use these too!
Carry reusable bags for shopping and buying in bulk
One of the things we all know, yet often ignore or neglect is carrying our own reusable bag when we head out for shopping – grocery or otherwise. It’s one of the easiest ways to reduce your plastic use and the least you can do to ensure the well-being of the planet and its beings – and, don’t forget, your own health too. While the primary reason to eliminate plastic bags is ecological, it has other potential problems too, like causing contamination by entering in the water supply that eventually ends up in our bodies.
Additionally, when you hit the supermarket for grocery shopping instead of buying things packaged in paper and plastic, carry your own small bags and containers. Pasta, rice, legumes, cereals and even spices can be bought in bulk and you can fill them up in reusable glass or stainless steel jars while checking out at the stores. Also, certain items like bananas, orange and pomegranate don’t even need a bag to be put in.
Choose unwrapped fruits and vegetables, and if you can buy organic produce directly from the farmer’s market where you can pick them up absolutely fresh, instead of weeks’ old produce dressed in styrofoam and plastic film.
You may initially find it incredibly hard to change, as we don’t realize how much deep we are into the plastic addiction. However, every little action counts and ditching plastic from our grocery shopping can make a huge positive impact.
Ditch beauty and personal care products that have microbeads
Most of our personal care and beauty products not only come in plastic packaging, they also contain microbeads that are dangerous for our health and the aquatic life. Even the most conscious consumers may be oblivious to the fact that they are using this sneaky plastic nearly every day. Its often found in toothpaste, face cleansers, scrubs and exfoliators. Just one tube of your toothpaste can contain up to 300,000 tiny plastic beads that end up in the water streams, kills the marine life and winds up in our bodies.
Solution? Switch to products that are organic and natural and free from plastic microbeads. What’s even better is making some of it on your own. For example, the used coffee powder can be easily worked as a body scrub and it is a great exfoliator! Use the coffee powder and mix it with cold-pressed coconut oil or olive oil and brown sugar and voila you have a wonderful coffee scrub. Through this, you’ve eliminated plastic completely and made a product that’s not only cheaper but also much better for your skin and health.
Switch to products that come with ecological packaging
Its true that plastic usage has reached a dangerous level and there is plastic everywhere and in everything. Some of the most common packages like toothpaste tubes, tortilla bags, shampoo bottles and pizza boxes often aren’t recyclable. However, on the positive side, with this realization and its dangers, many conscious companies have created and switched to eco-friendly and biodegradable alternatives to plastic. It’s now our duty to support them.
From edible cutlery that wants us to eat our way out of plastic pollution to packing materials made from sorghum and beauty products packaged in biodegradable tubes, there are so many plastic alternatives that you’ll be overwhelmed with choices. All you need to do is, make an effort to do your research and read the labels.
The next time you go shopping, look out for products that come in eco-friendly packaging and make sure you spread the word about them. Let’s put the social media to a positive use. Inform the brands why you stopped using their products (not ecological packaging) and, you never know, it may force them to switch too. Even a small effort like this towards spreading awareness can influence many to make a conscious choice.
If we look around there are always alternatives to plastic consumption, and often all it takes is an open mind to step out the comfort zone that we’ve got used to. It is not easy to eliminate plastic completely from our lives, agreed. We just have to remember that there was life before plastic and there will be life even after giving up plastic. It is always about the choices we make.
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