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Plastic pollution is a significant global problem. According to UNEP, the world produces about 400 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. When not disposed of properly, that waste ends up in our oceans, harming marine life and contaminating our food chain. Furthermore, plastic pollution has adverse effects on the quality of land and air as plastic waste takes centuries to decompose, releasing toxic chemicals. Global research has shown that without action, twice as much virgin plastic will be created and three times more plastic could flow into our oceans by 2040.
Plastic has become an integral part of our daily lives and it is nearly impossible to eliminate all plastic. However, with a little awareness and initiative, we can find a number of ways to help reduce the amount of plastic we bring into our homes and outside of our homes.
For inspiration, here are ten easy and effective ways to help reduce plastic consumption in our everyday life.
1. Avoid Non- Essential Plastic
Cut out non-essential plastics where possible. Single-use plastic items, such as polythenes, disposable cutlery, plates, and cups, contribute to the world’s growing plastic waste problem. If you can replace single-use plastics with long-term, sustainable alternatives then substitute and use them many times over a significant period of time.
2. Switch to Reusable Tote Bags
Tote bags, made from canvas, cotton, or jute are the perfect solution to single-use plastic bags. Not only are they reusable, look better, and are more stylish, but you can also wash a tote bag! They fold easily and occupy less space in your handbag or backpack.
Bringing your own bag is a simple way to not only reduce the use of plastic bags but also to save money, as most stores and supermarkets require you to pay for carry bags.
3. Use Reusable Containers
Pack your food in stainless tiffins, or glass containers. These containers are more durable and can be reused many times. Additionally, they keep the food fresh for quite some time.
You can also bring your own containers for leftovers or take out food at restaurants.
4. Carry Reusable Water Bottles
Bottled water is expensive and creates unnecessary plastic waste that’s usually not recycled. Also, many brands of bottled water are simply filtered tap water which may not be safe for drinking.
So, it’s always best to carry a reusable water bottle (stainless steel or glass) with you. Fill it up before leaving the house and refill it whenever and wherever necessary.
5. Avoid Plastic Straws
Plastic straws are an easy one to say NO to. If required, use stainless steel, metal, or glass straws. They last longer and are very simple to clean with a tiny straw brush.
6. Make Homemade Cleaners
Homemade cleaning products are less expensive and are just as effective as conventional cleaning solutions. Additionally, they are much gentler on your body and the environment.
I make a basic kitchen countertop spray cleaner with a mixture of dishwashing liquid (2 tsp), water (reusable spray bottle almost full), and essential oil (a few drops of tea tree or peppermint oil). Learn more on how to make homemade cleaners.
7. Buy in Bulk
In your home, consider how many things you tend to buy often that come with plastic packaging. Select bigger packs instead of buying several smaller ones over time. For example, tiny packets of nuts, small bottles of detergents or dishwashing soap, etc.
8. Choose Products with Minimal Packaging
Many products come in excessive or unnecessary packaging. To reduce your plastic use, choose products with minimal packaging whenever possible or recyclable, reusable, or compostable plastic. You can also look for products that use alternative packaging materials, such as paper, glass, or aluminum.
9. Compost Food Waste
By composting food waste, you reduce the amount of plastic bags that are collected by garbage disposal on a weekly basis. Composting food waste scraps creates a product that can be used to help improve soils, grow the next generation of crops, and improve water quality. Learn how to get started at home or backyard composting.
10. Join Clean-Up Campaigns
Join cleanup drives in your area or do your own. Clean-ups do make a difference in tackling the plastic pollution that is choking rivers, destroying once-beautiful beaches, and costing the lives of marine animals and other wildlife.
The more we learn the more we understand how important it is to be careful and conscious of the world and the space we live in. I hope this post was able to give insight into how easy it is to start using less plastic. If you have any tips that you would like to share, please comment below.