Single-use plastic waste is clogging up our waterways, killing our marine life and entering the food chain. The most common way for single-use plastic to enter our homes? Because we picked some up when we were out and about. So here are 10 ways to avoid single-use plastic every day:
1. Be mindful. One of the main reasons single-use plastic has come to dominate the world is because people are busy and are rushing to keep up with the many demands on their time. Plastic packaged items and products offer convenience to humans – but it’s the planet that pays the true cost of our plastic addiction. The best way to avoid plastic is to be mindful and conscious. When you slow down, commit to avoiding single-use plastic and plan ahead, you will be more successful in achieving a life with less plastic waste.
2. Avoid plastic packaging. If you buy processed or pre-prepared food or other household products, aim for those in reusable or compostable packaging such as those in glass jars, aluminium or cardboard. For example, if you buy laundry detergent, opt for ones in cardboard packaging rather than plastic.
3. Bring reusable bags. Bring your own reusable tote bags and produce bags so that you can avoid single-use plastic bags. If you’re one to forget, have some stashed in your car, in your backpack, in your school locker or in your office drawer. That way if you decide to take a spontaneous trip to the shops, you’ve got them handy.
4. Say no to plastic or disposable straws. One of the top 10 items littering our beaches, just learn to say “no straw please” when ordering a drink (unless you need it of course, then by all means skip this piece of advice). Bar and wait staff are often on autopilot and tend to forget you’ve asked for no straw, so flash them your reusable straw when ordering as it helps break up their routine and they’re more likely to remember your request.
5. Bring your reusable coffee cup. Stash the reusable cup in your tote bag, backpack, in your car or on your desk, and make sure to take it with you when you’re heading out because you never know when the “I need a coffee” feeling comes over you. If and when it does, you’ll have your reusable coffee cup on hand.
6. BYO drink bottle. Save the environment and save cash and bring your own drink bottle. You can refill it with water throughout the day at many locations: public parks, the gym, at work and even at the airport.
7. Take reusable cutlery with you. Even if you’re not feeling peckish when you walk out the door, hunger can hit you when you least expect it. Bring your reusable cutlery and that way you’re covered.
8. Pack a food container. For the same reasons as #6 but also if you can’t be stuffed cooking and decide to get takeout instead. Your food container is also handy if you’re at a cafe or restaurant and can’t finish your meal; you can skip plastic “doggy bags” and pack in your reusable instead.
9. Purchase clothing made of natural fibres. Much of the cheap fashion available in mainstream retail stores is made of polyester and nylon, plastic fibres that, when washed, release microplastics which enter our oceans and wreaks havoc with the natural environment. To avoid this problem, stick to buying clothing made of natural fibres such as organic cotton, hemp and linen. Read this post for more information on fashion’s microplastic pollution problem.
10. Shop at a bulk food store. Not affordable or accessible to some, but if you have one in your community, it’s a foolproof way to avoid single-use plastic. Bring your own bags, jars, containers and tote bags and that way you can avoid having to use the paper bags of offer as well. If you don’t have a bulk food store where you live, a farmer’s market may do the trick.
For a complete list of reusables to live a low waste life, check out our post “20 Items That Should Be On Your Zero Waste List“.
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Feature image via Shutterstock.