As awareness increases about the harmful effects of plastics on the health of the planet (and our own), people are looking for ways to do their part. Regular readers of this blog will be the first to tell you to ban the bottle – ditch the disposable and find something reusable – but there are other ways you can reduce your dependency on plastic.
- Switch to alternative materials where appropriate – glass, steel, aluminum and wood.
- Check labels and opt for bioplastics with PLA and CPLA labels (both will biodegrade) if you have no other option.
- Use a water filter or drink tap water instead of buying disposable water bottles.
- Don’t buy disposable cups, cutlery and plates.
- Opt for wooden toys instead of plastic.
- Use cloth shower curtains.
- Reuse glass jars.
- Buy reusable snack bags.
- Consider composting and/or using cloth diapers for your baby.
- Buy outdoor furniture made of metal or wood.
When You’re Shopping
- Bring your own reusable bags and purchase your foods from bulk bins when possible. Skip the plastic bags for fruits and veggies.
- Refuse straws.
- If you’re getting take out or leftovers, offer to supply your own containers.
- Bring your own washable dishware and cutlery.
- Bring your own coffee mug – coffee shops will fill it for you and sometimes at a discount!
- Pack your lunch in reusable bags and containers.
Why does it matter?
In 2012, just 9% of all plastic waste was recycled. It’s a prime example that while recycling efforts have increased, there remains an alarming gap between plastic production and plastic recovery. In addition to committing to recycling the plastics you continue to use, we must reduce our carbon footprint in other ways.
Plastic waste continues to rise, because global production and consumption of plastics is growing. In 2013, 299 million tons of plastics were produced, a four percent increase from the previous year. According to a scientific working group at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at UC Santa Barbara, roughly eight million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year.
The statistics are sobering, and we have to make changes across the board. Do your part at home, when you’re shopping and when you’re at work – but don’t stop there.