You’ve heard the stats: we’re pretty screwed when it comes to plastic waste.
If you’re not that keen on the plastic-wrapped future we’re heading for – but don’t know what to do about it without completely changing your lifestyle – don’t despair. There’s some simple, responsible adulting you can do that will make a huge difference in the long run.
Ditch plastic bags
This one is old news, but it’s a great place to start. Try to find cotton bags instead of the “green” bags at the checkout – you might use those multiple times, but they’re still made of plastic. Use a cotton produce bag for fruit and veg or ask your darling nana to stitch together a couple of pieces of old lace to make the perfect zero-waste veg bag.
Say no to straws
Australians use 10 million plastic straws a day. Americans use 500 million. This one is a no-brainer. Tell your bartender you don’t need a straw.
Choose conscientious caffeination
Takeaway cups might look like cardboard, but don’t be fooled. Take a keep cup or even a regular coffee mug to the cafe instead – some even offer a discount as a reward for your effort. While you’re on a roll, try carrying your own cutlery for takeaway meals.
Don’t drink bottled water
Look at this picture:
Avoid groceries with plastic packaging
It’s hard to avoid, no doubt about it. And giving up peanut butter is just unrealistic. Try buying dry goods like pasta or oats in a cardboard box instead of a bag, and choose the sauce (or peanut butter) in glass or tin; they’re both easily recycled, and won’t hang around for a thousand years in landfill.
Remember to take your cotton baggies and go for loose produce rather than pre-packed fruit and veg.
Buy in bulk
If you want to level up your eco shopping game, find a store that sells dry goods in bulk and reuse some old pasta jars or containers to collect it in. This goes for individually packaged items, too – consider how much more plastic is used in single portion yogurt than a 1L tub.
Use sustainable storage
Plastic cling wrap is undeniably useful, but it’s also evil and easy to cut down on. Try storing cut veggies in containers instead, and when it comes to wrapping your lunch to keep it fresh, get a few natural and reusable beeswax wraps or these clever silicone food covers.
Green your bathroom routine
Your exfoliating face scrub is probably full of microplastics, and of course, everything comes in a plastic bottle. Look out for scrubs and soaps that don’t contain polyethylene beads. There are natural products available that use apricot seeds, coffee or cocoa beans as exfoliants. Try shampoo bars, use a bamboo toothbrush and swap disposable razors for a metal safety razor – or at least an option with replaceable blades. An added bonus is that it won’t be long befoyour bathroom will stop looking like this dumpster:
Make your period waste-free
Save the world with a moon cup! This is a great solution compared to buying plastic-wrapped, single-use period products. The best news is, it’s good for the environment and your bank account.
Make conscious clothing choices
Yep, it’s even hiding in your threads. Most of the clothing produced today is made from synthetic fabrics, many of which are plastics. Try choosing natural fabrics like cotton, linen, hemp, low-water denim or real silk, and avoid polyester, viscose and rayon. Just like face scrub, every time you wash a synthetic item, tiny microplastics enter the waterways. They’re so small we can’t filter them out, and fish bring them back into the food chain by eating them. We’re literally eating parts of our plastic clothing.
Know what you can recycle
Many people don’t know that a lot of plastics are recyclable in your normal yellow bin. If you can’t avoid plastic, at least make sure you’re recycling it properly.
Lead image by Debby Hudson via Unsplash