It is time to stop living like plastic beings in a plastic world. Almost 400 million tons of plastic products are generated every year, and more than 50% come from the single-use variety. Plastics have seamlessly integrated into our lives, given their convenience and affordability. We are so accustomed to disposable and reusable plastic products that abandoning them once and for all seems impossible. Most plastics can be recycled to reduce waste that reaches our landfills and waterways. However, recycling plastic requires a lot water and energy, which establishes it as an unsustainable practice. Not to mention, incinerating and purifying old plastics releases hazardous chemical compounds. Durable plastic is better, as long as you keep reusing it for a long time.
Disposable plastic products are used for ten to fifteen minutes on average, but they take about 500 years to decompose. One plastic bottle you discard today will outlive your great grandchildren, and that is something to think about. If we keep using and disposing of plastics at the current rate, there will be more plastic waste in our oceans than fish by 2050. Given the potential risks, it is surprising that openly throwing away plastic waste is not acknowledged as a heinous crime worldwide. The toxicity of plastics is ruining ecosystems, creating pollution, and posing a threat to all forms of life. Replace your everyday plastics with sustainable materials to achieve a healthier and greener lifestyle. Here are 20 simple ways to join the movement:
- Always choose cardboard packaging over plastic.
- Say ‘No’ to straws. The beverage tastes just as good when you drink straight from the cup or bottle. Carry a reusable stainless steel or bamboo straw with you if you absolutely need it.
- Bring your own reusable shopping bags made from cloth, hemp, or some other sustainable material.
- Steer away from processed foods. They are bad for health and packed in plastic (the bowed varieties are also lined with plastic!).
- Buy local and organic produce that is not prepackaged.
- Invest in a razor with replaceable blades.
- Switch to cloth diapers as they are washable and hygienic for your baby.
- Use organic pet litter that is flushable.
- Look for natural chewing gum as most of them are made of synthetic rubber, i.e. plastic.
- Get fresh milk from the local milkman rather than buying preserved milk available in plastic containers.
- Carry your own reusable water bottle everywhere.
- Bring your thermos or flask to the coffee shop to keep your beverage hot/cold for longer and reduce plastic waste.
- Treat yourself to an ice cream cone or bring your own container to take home.
- Substitute cling wrap with foil paper (which is easy to recycle) or beeswax wrap (which is highly biodegradable).
- Refuse disposable spoons, fork, knives, and sporks. Invest in a bamboo cutlery set or use your regular metal ware.
- Opt for organic fabrics like organic cotton and silk, which are good on your skin. Synthetic clothing materials like polyester, nylon, acrylic, spandex, and lycra create microfiber pollution.
- Cut down on takeout meals and cook at home more often. Prepare your own condiments as well to get rid of processed and packaged products.
- Prefer wine in glass bottles fitted with natural cork stoppers.
- Use natural cleaning ingredients like baking soda and vinegar.
- Upcycle or reuse any plastic products you own instead of dumping them as garbage.
John Adams is a paralegal and environmentalist, who loves to travel, read, and write. His blogs are mainly focused on estate planning and sustainable living. He believes that all of us can improve the quality of our life by incorporating positive thoughts and actions.