It goes without saying that plastic has taken over our lives. From essentials to luxuries, almost every product we buy comes packaged in plastic. Be it the carry bags at the grocery store, packaged mineral water, pill bottles, drinks, shampoos and conditioners, to body washes and even oils, plastic is just about everywhere. Even in our clothing! Heard of synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon? They contain some form of plastic too. We don’t need to tell you about the global impact of plastic on the environment. It’s been discussed to death already. Remember that viral video showing a plastic straw stuck-up a sea turtle’s nose? Or another that talked about how the huge quantity of plastic trash accumulated in the sea now resembles an island?
Plastic With Care
An eye-opening article from National Geographic highlights that despite the world’s best efforts to recycle, 91% of its plastic ends up in the trash. There has to be a more sustainable alternative, don’t you agree? Or even a more viable one. So, how do we tackle the burgeoning plastic problem? What do we do to cut out plastic from our lives? It’s time to think outside the box, ahem the trash! More and more companies are now moving towards producing eco-friendly, non-plastic alternatives thanks to the increasing consciousness about the environment and our abuse of it.
Are you lost, wondering where to even begin? While you cannot change the past, you can always work towards a better future and a better world- one that’s plastic-free too. Here are some easy ways to go about it.
Purchase grocery that’s not pre-packaged. Bulk bins are a great idea for rice, wheat, pasta, beans, sugar, nuts, flour, and other products including coffee or tea. Opt for paper packaging and wherever possible carry your own containers – glass, or stainless steel jars, or reusable cloth or burlap bags. Carry whatever works well for you. If you find jars and cloth bags too cumbersome, there’s another, more eco-friendly alternative- silicone stashers. They are light and come in various sizes.
Preparing Lunch Bags
Next time you pack lunch for yourself or your family remember to use paper bags or beeswax food wraps instead of Ziploc bags and plastic wraps.
What about cleaning supplies? Everything these days comes in plastic bottles. Socially conscious brands however are coming up with refillable glass dispenser bottles that are practical as well as attractively designed. You can also opt to make your own cleaning essentials using household supplies. Baking soda and vinegar are considered effective cleaning agents and they’re green too.
Have a simple, minimal routine and stick to just the bare essentials. Your skin will thank you for it too. Instead of hoarding all the beauty products that you can get your hands on, first use what you already own and simplify your beauty regime. If you cannot do without them, go for brands that are conscious about their packaging. Most local brands also buy back empty bottles and containers, or give you a discount on your purchase or offer a giveaway in lieu of empty containers.
Toys manufacturers are major consumers of plastic. Since plastic never decomposes, you can imagine all the toys that were abandoned, misplaced, used, thrown, or given away all ending up in landfills or oceans / beaches somewhere.
A better alternative would be using toys made of wood or better still, investing in books. Buy fewer toys; borrow them from toy libraries instead. Little children anyways lose interest in their toys pretty quickly anyways.
Borrowing toys is not only cost-effective but also gives you the option to change them whenever your kid loses interest. This way you’re not only recycling and reducing waste, but also maintaining a green lifestyle.
85% of clothes in the US alone end up in landfills. Therefore, commit to buying less and make what you already have last longer. Read the washing instructions mentioned on the back of the tag to extend the shelf life of your favorite clothes.
When you do shop, invest in quality pieces that are made of wool, cotton, and silk which are more environmentally friendly than opting for cheaper plastic-based synthetic fibers like nylon, polyester, and spandex that are durable no doubt, but add to the plastic waste.
Also support sustainable fashion designers who take into account both environmental and socio-economic factors to bring ethical fashion from margins to mainstream markets.
- Bottled water; instead carry reusable stainless steel flasks or cups and steel straws.
- Shampoos in plastic bottles; instead go for shampoo bars.
- Single-use plastic. Mostly found covering snacks, crackers, biscuits, and energy bars. Instead learn to make them yourself or buy from local bakers and promote local, small businesses. Think globally but act locally.
- Scrubbers and synthetic sponges; instead go for natural fiber brushes to clean dirty dishes and water bottles.
- Non-stick cookware; switch to stainless steel or cast iron.
- Ointments and creams; make your own salves and store them in glass bottles.
Join the Green Side
Start them young. Teach your kids about the importance of replacing plastic with sustainable alternatives. Start by replacing plastic bags, straws, disposable cutlery, and water and milk bottles with reusable, eco-friendly products. Plastic containers that are made with BPA should also be avoided as they can harm the brain and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children. Therefore repurpose plastic bottles and containers responsibly. Check if they are BPA-free too and as far as possible use stainless steel or glass.
The earth is all we have in common- the past, present, and future generations. Let’s strive to keep it that way.