As concern surrounding society’s impact on the environment grows, people are interested in learning how to reduce their carbon footprint. One of the most urgent environmental issues is plastic pollution. The rapid increase in production of single-use plastics is crushing many countries’ ability to manage it all. This is most visible in developing nations located in Asia and Africa, where “10 rivers alone carry more than 90% of the plastic waste that ends up in the oceans”. Statistics like this are pushing people to shift to plastic free living by eliminating single use plastic.
Transitioning to plastic free living can be hard. We get it! Plastic is found in everything from packaging to the clothes we wear. But, you can create an impact simply by starting at home.
Let’s take a deeper look at the dangers of single-use plastic and discover steps you can take today towards a plastic free life.
Dangers of Single-Use Plastic
Plastics have been around for a while. They were invented over 100 years ago. However, it wasn’t until the early 2000s when its use skyrocketed. “Our output of plastic waste rose more in a single decade than it had in the previous 40 years”. Plastics transformed lives by providing cheaper, life-saving solutions, and access to technologies the masses could now afford. But at what cost?
The cheap production cost and use of the material have led to a culture of wastage. The current development of plastics is specifically produced for single use. “Plastics often contain additives making them stronger, more flexible, and durable. But many of these additives can extend the life of products if they become litter, with some estimates ranging to at least 400 years to break down”. As single-use materials continue to be widely distributed, the environmental effects will continue to persist. We can help reduce the plastic footprint by managing our waste before it ends up in our oceans and landfills.
7 Steps You Can Take Towards Plastic Free Living
1. Cleaning products
You can make your own cleaning products. This helps reduce your plastic footprint, plus is great for non-toxic living. Make a mixture of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water as an all-purpose cleaner and store in a reused spray bottle.
2. Use your own shopping bag
Keep reusable shopping bags in your car or purse. You can directly eliminate single use plastic,by using bags such as Chico Bags which are compact and can be clipped to your purse or backpack. If you want a more chic option, try using a wicker basket or a net or canvas Ecobag. They can be used for more than just groceries. Carry everything from food to everyday shopping items.
3. Choose loose leaf tea
According to the Tea Association of the USA, “Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water. In 2019, Americans consumed over 84 billion servings of tea, or more than 3.8 billion gallons”. That’s a lot of tea! But did you know teabags contain plastic? Some tea brands use polypropylene (a plastic) in the production of the bags. This plastic is not biodegradable and adds to the plastic footprint on the environment. Instead, use loose leaf tea with an infuser. Not only does it reduce your carbon footprint it has been known to have a fresher, better taste.
4. Support businesses reducing the carbon footprint
Many companies have built the practice of living sustainability and non-toxic into the mission of their businesses. For instance, Ardor Bin’s mission is to continue to create plant-based, wellness products using raw materials, pure plant extracts, and biodegradable packaging. The soy wax base is poured into reusable glass containers. The jar can be reused as a toothbrush holder, a cup, or even a planter. The packaging is completely sustainable and in line with the practices of plastic free living. As sustainability is our focus, we encourage users to reuse and repurpose to avoid waste.
5. Shop local farmers markets
Shopping at your local farmers’ market is a great step towards plastic-free living. The produce at markets is usually fresher and requires little to no plastic use. For produce items like tomatoes or leafy greens, you can make your own produce bags to protect during transit home. These are easy to make and washable. Plus shopping at markets is not only great for the environment but you’re supporting a small business too.
6. Give up bottled water
One of the biggest offenders to the growing plastic footprint is single-use bottled water. In many communities tap water is safe to drink. Many County Health Departments can come to your home to test your water for free! However, for those that prefer or need to filter their water, Brita has teamed up with Preserve to create a way to recycle your plastic cartridges. Additionally, when traveling use reusable bottles made of stainless steel or glass. Many airports have refillable water bottle stations. You will be saving money and reducing your carbon footprint.
7. Buy in Bulk
Bulk shopping encourages you to shop intentionally. You can buy non-perishables such as rice, beans, and dried fruits from bulk bins. Shops such as Whole Foods and MOM’s Organic Market allow you to fill your own reusable containers. You don’t have to break the bank shopping at high price grocers though. We get it, you have families to feed! Purchasing in bulk from big box stores like Costco helps eliminate single use plastic used overall. Undoubtedly, plastic free living does not happen overnight and is a process of learning how to plan and stay organised.
Transitioning to plastic-free life can be a bit daunting. Plastic is everywhere, but you can create an impact by simply starting with the small steps mentioned in this blog. From your cleaning products to the businesses you support you can start creating a positive impact by reducing your plastic footprint on this planet, today!
As long as you continue to educate yourself and explore small ways to incorporate practices that help you make the transition to eliminate single-use plastic in your home, you should know that you are doing yourself and the world a huge service!