Good Day and welcome back to my Sustainable Living Blog! In this post, I am going to provide you with some useful easy tips for living with less plastic.
As you may know already, plastic is one of the most polluting material on our planet and humans produce about 300 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. That’s nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population (source: UNEP). Plastic is entering our food chain as well, and studies reckon that we already eat the equivalent of a credit card per week of plastic! Plastic is affecting humans, as well as leading to the death of millions of animals every year.
Sometimes there is the misconception that reducing plastic from our lives is impossible, expensive or “uncomfortable”, but actually… It isn’t! Since I started my journey to reduce as much as possible the use of plastic in my daily life and while working with LEO Africa, educating volunteers on sustainable living, little by little I have changed my habits and it is the best thing that I have done in my life. It makes me feel good because I am doing something great for our planet and this has become my normal life routine. At the beginning, all it took was a couple of minutes to plan in advance what I should do to live the day with less plastic; my question was: “What do I need to bring along to make sure that I do not need to use/buy any single plastic while I am out?
The first 4 items that I immediately removed from my “old plastic routine” (and that you can give up right now as well!) are:
1) Plastic Bottles –> I always carry my metal water bottle with me, full, in my cotton bag or backpack. Sometimes I even pack two bottles or if I carry one and I finish it, I refill it with tap water. If at home you have an issue with tap water (some of you might not like the taste or it is rich in minerals), you can apply a filter to your tap that makes water safe to drink and removes all the minerals. At home, I use a reverse osmosis system but you can also choose some other types of filters who are less invasive; some of them can even be applied to your water bottle as well or on the water tap itself. One thing that I admit I do not really like of water osmosis is that it wastes a lot of water. But I actually found a solution as I collect the water “wasted” and I use it to water the veggie garden or to clean floors/flush toilet (water is the most important nature resource of our planet and we should never waste it!).
2) Plastic Straws –> It always surprises me to see how we drink water, beer and wine from the glass, but we “must” drink cocktails, cool drinks and milkshakes with straws! What changes? Plastic straws are terrible for the environment and they are one of the most common plastic found on beaches. They can’t be recycled and you use them only for a few minutes. The solution? Stop using them and if you are out, ask your waiter/barman not to add a straw to your drink when you are ordering and ask your friends to do the same – we can live without straws and still have a lot of fun!And.. If you really can’t live without straws, there are a lot of alternatives to single use plastic straws. You can buy a metal/glass/silicon or bamboo straw and take them with you. I personally don’t own any straw as it is an item that we use for a few minutes but it still takes a lot of energy and nature resources to be produced. If I don’t really need something, I don’t buy it! (Of course there are exception for those people with medical conditions).
3) Plastic Bags –> Plastic bags are comfortable and somehow waterproof, but they are real killers of a lot of marine wildlife! Sea turtles see plastic bags as jellyfishes and eat them, resulting in the death of the animal. The alternative to plastic bags are reusable ones, that you can keep with you when you go shopping. I personally always carry a cotton bag with me in which I keep my water bottle, another reusable bag and my take away container/reusable coffee mug. I use my cotton bag to pack any purchase, from groceries, to clothes!
4) Take Away Containers/coffee cups –> Who else love coffee? In Italy, we do not really have this issue as asking for an espresso take away, is quite uncommon (it is an espresso, right?!). But I know that many of you (like me too, I admit it!), love a good cup of americano! Life is frenetic, we are in a hurry and to avoid being late, we often ask for a take away, that comes in a plastic container with a plastic lid. Did you know that actually many coffee shops are starting to give discounts to people who bring their own reusable cup to get a take away coffee? You save money, you make a difference for the environment and coffee taste better in a proper cup! The same can apply to a take away. In my experience, back home in Italy, as we LOVE to eat everything that we order, we do not even have the option of the take away LOL (if you ask for takeaway they look at you as if you come from Mars!); however in South Africa, for example, where portions are HUGE, then it is common to have a take away. As I know that I am going to the restaurant, I go prepared and I bring my own take away container, so I can take my food leftover back home, without using any plastic!
I would love to hear from you! Do you already try to reduce your plastic consumption in your daily lives? If not, will you try to pick at least one of the above swaps? Once you start reducing your plastic consumption, you’ll see how easy it is and it will become “addictive” as you will feel good by making a good difference for our planet!
Stay tuned, I will post some extra tips to live more sustainably soon! In the meantime, have a look at some interesting posters below from Less Plastic UK!
Have a wonderful day!