Plastic cups. Plastic bags. Plastic toys. Plastic utensils. Plastic bottles. Plastic – there is just no getting away from it. One of the world’s most functional substances has turned into one of the world’s biggest pollutants, and the devastation it’s causing is drastic.
Plastic is made of synthetic materials – a combination of nylon, polyethylene, chemicals and PVC, which allow manufacturers to mould this substance into any number of products. Although extremely versatile and durable, plastic contains additives that may be toxic and therefore impact the environment as it degrades. Plastic sitting in landfills takes almost 500 years to decompose, and our oceans are filled with almost 8 million metric tons of it. Needless to say, something needs to be done.
Living a plastic-free life may seem impossible, but these helpful alternatives provide a great way to start:
Lifestyle storage is almost inconceivable without the use of plastic containers for lunches, leftovers other groceries. Fortunately, there are some fantastic environmentally friendly alternatives. Stainless steel containers, fabric lunch bags or glass jars are earth-friendly ways to store your food, with the added benefit of fewer germs and easier cleaning. With one out of every ten items being pulled out of the ocean being plastic shopping bags, switching from plastic shopping bags to canvas carriers is a great way to carry those glass storage containers home, at the same time reducing the amount of plastic headed to our seas.
Out for a meal with family and friends? Why not take along some paper straws to use as an alternative to the plastic ones served with drinks. Ordering tap water instead of bottled will reduce the number of plastic bottles used, and taking home those tasty leftovers in cardboard or tinfoil packaging will all make a dent in the reduction of plastic usage.
Reduce your plastic usage at home by switching your shower curtain to cloth, bamboo or a sheet of glass, and ditch your plastic toothbrush for the healthier and eco-friendly wooden ones. Encourage your children to be less dependent on plastic by purchasing wooden, cotton or metal toys – they are longer lasting and provide great entertainment for little ones! Let them play on natural wool or cotton rugs, or draw pictures for you using pencil crayons instead of khokis. Need another entertainment option for the family? Digital movies and music purchased online not only save you money, but require no plastic usage at all! Feed your babies using silicone nipples, and ditch the disposables and switch to cloth nappies.
Every year, we get rid of enough plastic to circle the earth four times – imagine what a difference even the smallest change in our lifestyles will make. Recycling the plastic that is used will increase the impact made on the planet. #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE) are the most commonly recycled plastics – make use of these two if you need to use plastic in any form. It will take a bit of extra time and a bit of extra money, but the long-term savings far outweigh any immediate pinch. Spreading the word and standing together to reduce our plastic footprint will be one step closer to our ever-desired plastic free planet!