PLASTIC... When I saw the documentary "Bag It" and realised just how insidious this material is, "plastic" became a dirty word in my vocabulary. Here's a few stats that explain why:
- It doesn't go away. The life expectancy of a plastic bag or bottle is estimated at 500-1,000 years - but no-one really knows because it hasn't been around that long! So virtually every piece of plastic ever made is still in existence in some shape or form.
- More than 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million sea birds die every year from ingestion or entanglement in plastic litter (and that's only an estimate).
- Less than 5% of plastics are recycled worldwide.
- Worldwide, as many as 1 trillion plastic bags are used each year - more than 1 million bags a minute. All these bags equate to around 100 million barrels of oil.
- There are billions of pounds of plastic garbage floating in our oceans.
Now I know it's virtually impossible to escape all plastic, our computers are made of it, phones, pens, probably some of your kitchen equipment, storage containers or furniture. But in my opinion it's the single use plastic that's the absolute worst. So incredibly wasteful, especially when you consider how many easy alternatives are available. All you really have to do is decide that you're going to commit to creating as little plastic waste as possible, and plan ahead!
Here are my thoughts on 7 things you can easily do to reduce your plastic waste (that also happen to be better for your health and that of the planet):
- Avoid plastic bags and plastic bottles. Always take reusable bags with you, keep a bunch in your car and 1 or 2 fold-up ones in your handbag. Always take your reusable water bottle with you - if you're out for awhile, find places to fill it up.
- Refuse plastic straws. Do you really need a straw? If you want one to drink your smoothie with - get a reusable glass or stainless steel one. Take it with you when you go out for a smoothie (along with your reusable smoothie cup).
- Get a reusable coffee cup. If you're a regular coffee drinker, how many coffee cups do you think you've thrown out in your lifetime? A lot right. Reduce your waste right now but getting a cute reusable one to take with you. (Biome has heaps).
- Ditch the cling wrap. Whoever thought it was a good idea to wrap sandwiches and leftovers in plastic?! I'm all for keeping leftovers but there is a better way - cover your plates and bowls with reusable beeswax wraps! They'll even make your fridge look prettier. (Order some locally made ones here).
- Make your parties waste-free. Ever noticed how much waste is produced at most parties? All those disposable plates, napkins, cups, cutlery. No-one really wants to spend ages washing up but there are many ways to avoid all that waste, here's a few of my ideas - choose finger foods (no plates necessary) and use biodegradable napkins if you need them; use real plates and cutlery and recruit a few friends to help with the cleanup (many hands make light work); if you must use disposable plates/cutlery, choose biodegradable ones.
- Make your period waste-free. Ladies, menstrual cups are seriously one of the best inventions I've ever found! These are not just better for the planet and your health as you're avoiding all those pads and tampons, they're soo much easier. I won't go into detail here but trust me, you need to get one and discover this for yourself! (Click here to see my favourite one - from a local business too).
- Take your own containers. If you eat take-away you can save using all those plastic containers (and the associated health problems that come from putting hot food in BPA containers) by bringing your own reusable glass containers. I do it all the time - just tell them when you order that you'll be bringing your own containers, go there early, hand over the containers and there you have it - waste-free takeaway. Or, even easier solution - eat the food there, on their plates.
There are many, many more ways to reduce our plastic waste - what would you add to this list?