Recent studies have shown that on average in the last 5 years 320 MILLION TONS of plastic has been generated by the global population. Let that idea sink in for a moment. That’s about 8 million pieces of plastic entering our environment each day. That’s not so good. Plastics end up in our oceans and they pollute them to the point that every living creature that lives in and/or relies on the oceans has been found to contain some trace of plastic when examined (unfortunately the lowest percentage found was only 40% of a population of sea-birds). Single use plastic waste and our “throw-away” culture are a very potent combination which has led to this problem. However, there is hope! In this article I will help you to reduce your plastic waste output easily by suggesting some reusable products I have found to be very effective in my own life 🙂
Coffee. Most of us drink it daily in our modern society but how often do you stop to think about each of those single use take out cups? We see them everyday just going about our daily business and when we are done with them we throw them away and forget about them, but where do they actually go? Most end up in landfill sites, as litter in our streets and in nature and they don’t biodegrade they are made to be sturdy and uncompromising. Unfortunately this means they also stick around a long time.
An easy way to make change right now is to invest in a product like a reusable coffee cup! There is a growing market for these cool beverage carriers and they come in some fantastic designs and colours too (Check out their website for some particularly cool ones!). By switching your daily latte (or 4) into one of these handy cups rather than getting a take out cup you will drastically reduce your plastic waste immediately! An added bonus is that many coffee shops and coffee chains are now offering incentives such as reduced prices and free loyalty stamps to those who use a reusable take away cup so it helps you wallet too! It’s a win for you and a win for the Earth 🙂
Water, Water Everywhere…
Getting at least 1.5 litres of fluid each day is very important for healthy bodily function but let’s be honest most of us struggle with this. We forget to buy water or a cold drink with our lunch or we are just so busy focusing on other things that we forget about it all together! Unfortunately here we have a similar problem to the take-away coffee cups in that a lot of these drinks come in single use plastic bottles with plastic wrapping and a plastic top (that’s a lot of plastic waste!) and once again they end up where they shouldn’t in our oceans, rivers, fields, etc…
Luckily there is a similar solution here too: Invest in a re-usable water bottle! In my life I have noticed several benefits to having a re-usable water bottle on hand;
- I drink more often because I have my bottle on my desk
- My health has improved because I am drinking more
- I can put whatever I want in my bottle from water to smoothies and I still have the same plastic output!
A small investment will pay off in a big way not just for your health but for the environment too!
I know that’s an old joke but it still makes me smile. Straws do suck, they are a huge part of the plastic pollution problem and they are particularly damaging to sea-life as they cause severe internal injuries when ingested, especially by turtles. Untold billions of straws are used each day by people all over the world and most of us don’t even need them! How often do you take your straw out of your drink when it comes with one in? My guess is most of the time. Most of us* simply do not need straws to enjoy our drinks and for the small convenience they provide the damage they inflict on the environment is incredible.
So what can we do? Two things actually!
- Ask for a drink without a straw/Refuse a straw in your drink when it is offered (or recycle it if it just comes with one)
- Use re-usable plastic alternatives like metal or cardboard straws
Next time you get a straw after reading this article see how much you use it and ask yourself “Do I really need this?”
*I am aware that some individuals need straws or find the help they provide essential when getting their nutrition.
Recycle Your Plastics
I know this one sounds obvious but just taking a little extra time to do some research into what can be recycled and what can’t be recycled in your life can make a big difference! People often assume that something can’t be recycled because it doesn’t “look” like it can be but it’s always best to check first. Likewise, some products you would assume to be recyclable are not, like most take-away coffee cups.
This research has the added benefits of:
- Being more aware of what you buy and where it could end up
- Increasing your knowledge about recycling
- Helping you live more deliberately and make better choices for the environment
There are some great options for recycling containers to help you here 🙂
Use Your Own Bags
Plastic bags are one of the worst offenders for plastic pollution. They get everywhere! Most of the time (like almost all single use plastic products) they are largely unnecessary and we could easily live without them. They are also particularly hazardous to wildlife as they are easy to choke on or swallow for many animals.
- Many super markets and large stores sell their own version of reusable bags which are stronger and more resilient than their single use counter-parts.
- There are loads of reusable shopping bags to be found online (many of which fold up into cute designs for handy storage 🙂
- Use any bag you have! There’s nothing wrong with just carrying things home or using backpacks, handbags, purses, or any other method you can think of to get your shopping home with you! Next time you are offered a single use bag stop and think if you really need it 🙂
I hope you have found this article helpful and it has given you some ideas as to what you can do to help reduce plastic pollution and make more informed choices in your daily life. All anyone of us can do is our best and we should not attack or belittle ourselves for our past actions, we did the best we could with the knowledge and resources we had, but we all have the power to change right now! Right now we have the choice and the knowledge to choose reusable and think greener. I know you can do it!
Remember reduce, reuse, recycle! 🙂
P.S. The Ultimate Green Store is a brilliant resource for some great eco-friendly products! Check them out here!
Love and Light,
Founder of Nature’s Teaspoon