Plastic pollution in the environment is the result of our actions. This also means that everyone can help reduce plastic waste and to get rid of the pollution already there. 95% of our efforts should go into avoiding plastic, and only 5 percent into retrieving and recycling it.
How to reduce your use of plastic in everyday life
The majority of plastic we bring into our homes only to throw away come from the supermarket. Therefore, that is the first place we should start to improve. Use mesh bags for your fruit and vegetable instead of single-use bags. Try to avoid buying pre-packaged fruit and vegetable. Peppers, cucumbers and don’t need a plastic cover, so buy them without. Your local farmer’s market might be able to help you with unpackaged fruit and vegetable and at a lower price than in the supermarket.
Bulk-buy at your local supermarket instead of buying pre-packaged sweets, nuts, lentils, rice and many more. Make sure to bring storage containers to avoid the plastic bags there. If the supermarket doesn’t offer a bulk aisle, see if you can find a Bulk Barn or similar shop near you. Avoid all products and companies that use clamshells. Buy multi-use grocery bags and put them everywhere in your car, in every purse and any backpack you can find. This way, you will never have to use the single-use bags of the supermarket ever again!
Buy your fruit and vegetables in the farmer’s market. Not only is the produce usually cheaper, locally and seasonally sourced and therefore more nutritious, they also come without plastic packaging. Unfortunately, a lot of them still have those plastic stickers on them. Make sure to remove the stickers and throw them in the trash instead of just washing them down the sink. It sounds like a little detail, but the small plastic sticker in combination with the adhesive can lead to harm in the environment.
Buy food storage containers and bring them everywhere. it’s best to keep one in your car, in case you spontaneously decide to eat out and want to bag the leftovers. Thanks to food storage containers, you can avoid the typical polystyrene containers from the restaurant and the trash that comes with it.
Try finding alternatives to plastic tools, or avoid using them. A straw for your cocktail? If you don’t need it, refuse it when ordering your drink. The plastic lid for your coffee? Only take it if you absolutely need it. Better yet, buy yourself a reusable coffee mug, and get rid of the paper cups altogether! Buy bamboo cotton swabs. Use a bamboo toothbrush. Purchase bee’s wrap instead of cling film; it’s more eco-friendly and can be reused. Buy camping cutlery to use instead of a plastic knife and fork for your take-out. Get your ice cream in a wafer cone instead of in a plastic cup. Drink tap water instead of buying bottled water. Buy a reusable bottle (made of stainless steel or glass, for example) to replace plastic bottles completely. If you want carbonated water, look for a carbonator (sparkling water or soda maker). Use multi-use razors instead of single-use ones. Buy concentrates whenever possible; they are also cheaper in the long run. There are millions of little things we can do and every little change can have a huge impact on our environment.
If you absolutely have to use plastic-and believe me, unless you re hard-core against plastic, You will get to the point where you have to avoid single-use plastics. Buy recycled plastic, if possible. Multi-use plastics, such as sturdy bottles, food containers, kitchen utensils, and many other objects can be used for years without any harm. When you feel you don’t need them anymore, but they are still in good shape, sell them or give them away to people who will use them. Only if it’s absolutely necessary, throw them away. Make sure you recycle the plastic properly.