A plastic-free life sounds fascinating yet improbable.
In modern times, the fact that plastic infiltrates every aspect of human life is undeniable. This is because plastic products are readily available everywhere due to the skyrocketing production and secondly, we are so habituated to using plastic products that the demand is ever increasing. Every year several million metric tons of plastic waste are dumped in both sea and land. Even recycled plastic can only be recycled a couple of times. It's simply delayed dumping.
In 2015 the world produced more than 380 million tonnes of plastic which is roughly equivalent to the mass of two-thirds of the world population.
Plastic sticks around in the environment for ages, threatening wildlife and spreading toxins. Plastic also contributes to global warming (almost all plastics are made from chemicals that come from the production of planet-warming fuels like gas, oil, and even coal).
We believe every choice we make has an impact. Fighting for a more just & sustainable future will take significant systemic change and small changes in our everyday lives. Every choice we make can be sustainable.
More and more people are cutting down on the amount of plastic they use. There are some tips that will help us avoid household plastics that can end up in our seas – harming our dolphins, turtles, and other wildlife too. And they'll enhance your life by saving us cash and avoiding aggressive chemicals.
1. Choose fruits and vegetables without packaging
To increase the shelf life of the fruits and vegetables we buy, supermarkets add packaging to them. Sometimes they even add a plastic tray. Though it might make our mushrooms look more aesthetically pleasing and social-media worthy, they are not really required and just add to the plastic waste in our garbage can the very next day.
Choose to refuse pre-packed fruit and vegetables. Instead, look out for loose fruit and vegetables in your local grocery store, or head to the local vegetable market or the organic store where plastic packaging is less often used. Carrying your own reusable bag is a habit that we all should develop while going out shopping for any products - groceries or otherwise.
If you would like to do more, support stores that provide loose fruit and vegetables or offer paper bags instead of plastic ones. If your local store doesn’t do this, why not share your concerns and request they reduce their plastic packaging.
2. Swap cling film for food wraps
The average family goes through 24 rolls of cling film per year, adding up to hundreds of meters of plastic waste. Choosing cling film alternatives will lead to less rubbish in landfills. Plus it will mean more money in your pocket and fewer pollutants in the environment. There are several other alternatives for cling film like beeswax wrap, reusable snack bags that are generally made from cotton, tea towels, containers made from natural materials, etc.
Saying goodbye to excess plastic in your life is possible. Choosing cling film alternatives is an excellent place to start. The cling film alternatives mentioned here will help you save resources and money. If everyone used less cling film, we could all help make a positive environmental change.
3. Switch to reusable bags
Plastic bags have done their part in contributing to global warming and affecting the natural ecosystem to the maximum possible extent. Plastic bags alone kill up to 100,000 marine animals every year. One species that is especially hard-hit is the leatherback sea turtle, which often confuses plastic bags for the jellyfish they like to eat. According to the Centers for Biological Diversity, 1 of every 3 leatherbacks is found with plastic in its stomach.
A plastic bag takes up to 500 years to degrade in a landfill. According to the Earth Day Network, as plastic bags break down, they absorb toxins which can then be released into the wind, water, or ground.
The most popular and greener replacement for using plastic bags is reusable bags made out of biodegradable components. Reusable bags can naturally decompose besides great strength and durability. Various grocery store owners and big brands are already switching to bags made out of cloth, jute, bamboo, or biodegradable plastics.
When you use a reusable bag, you’re not just decreasing the amount of non-renewable resources needed for producing plastic bags, but you’re also decreasing the amount of money it costs each year for your community to clean them up.
So, the next time when you plan to go shopping, do carry your own greener alternatives such as paper bags, canvas bags, or bamboo bags.
4. Say “No” to packaged drinking water
71% of the earth is covered with water. 75% of the human body is water. And yet, somehow we as a society find it difficult to get safe water to drink. Water remains one of our most scarce and sought-after natural resources.
Packaged water, even if it is supported by popular brand names, is nothing but filtered tap water.
Plastic bottles, which usually follow the “use and throw” mode cause a lot of damage to the environment. It is quite amusing to know that just to produce 1 liter of bottled water; takes up almost 3 liters of normal water. Worldwide, some 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year. And worst of all, the used bottles are most likely to end up at the bottom of the ocean or landfill sites.
Opting for reusable bottles made out of glass, aluminum or steel would be a wonderful alternative to plastic bottles. Make sure to fill it up whenever you leave home.
5. Using compostable straws and tableware
As per the current research data, almost 500 million straws and plates are used up in the US every year. Since these are non-biodegradable, they often end up in landfills or at the bottom of the ocean, remaining there for several hundred years as such.
Biodegradable or compostable drinking straws and other tableware made out of bamboo, hay, rice, sugarcane, grass, and wheat are a great way to protect the enamel on your teeth while you protect the environment. Single-use plastic straws are among the top 10 contributors to plastic marine debris across the globe. Replacing them with biodegradable straws can reduce the amount of plastic in the environment dramatically.
6. Minimizing e-waste
We are living in an era ruled by electronics. Electronic waste items not only take several years to disintegrate but also poisons the environment by leaking harmful chemicals that it is made.
“E-waste”, “electronic waste”, “e-scrap” and “end-of-life electronics” are terms often used to describe used electronics that are nearing the end of their useful life, and are discarded, donated, or given to a recycler.
Improper disposal of e-waste has catastrophic results for the environment. Instead of continuously buying new release cell phones or electronic gadgets, it is better to use the current ones to the maximum possible extent. If one of your electronic items stopped working, try to get it fixed before running to buy a new one. Simple acts like donating used electronics for reuse extend the lives of valuable products as well.
Reusing the precious metals and plastics in old cell phones alone instead of making or mining more of them would save as much energy as flipping off the power to more than 25,000 homes for an entire year.
7. Minimize the use of plastic furniture
Plastic furniture doesn’t disintegrate once discarded. Often you might have noticed several discarded pieces of plastic furniture items in the junkyards. Quite surprisingly these discarded pieces of plastic look exactly the same as they were thrown years ago, except the color fades. It is almost impossible to completely break down plastic furniture items as they are reinforced with chemicals.
It is always better to go for sustainable options while buying furniture. Bamboo which is an abundant, natural, biodegradable, compostable, aesthetically pleasing, natural material is ideal for furniture because of its properties. Growing faster than any hardwood or softwood equivalent, it is incredibly strong yet lightweight. As it’s technically grass, not a tree, there are no weak points along its length. This makes it stronger and more durable than even the toughest hardwoods. Add the benefits it has for the soil, environment, and society by generating massive employment, it becomes a fantasy material.
Here are some bamboo furnitures that will prove how beautiful and pleasing sustainability can be.
Plastic is a bad choice we made in past but now we have better and greener options
Opting to live a life without plastics doesn’t mean that you should avoid any luxuries and goodness that life has to offer. The conscious designers, engineers, creators, and businesses these days are also concerned about the environment and bringing out greener options that don’t compromise on any factor of your lifestyle. We all need to be more aware of them and spread the information around us as well. By opting for a greener lifestyle, you are not only helping the planet but also many generations to come.
Thank you for reading! For more information on what Plastic Free July is all about, visit PlasticFreeJuly.Org.