July is the month dedicated to reducing plastic waste. The movement is called: PLASTIC FREE JULY.
Have you ever thought about where all those single-use plastics end up? Did you know that every piece of plastic ever created still exists on the planet? It may be that they have broken down and converted into micro-plastics, but they are still present in our environmental system. Plastic consumption causes more than 100,000 marine animals deaths each year (penguins, turtles, seals, various species of fish and birds).
On one hand, animals mistake plastics for food and their digestive systems collapse from excessive plastic intake. On the other hand, animals are also trapped in marine nets, in plastics bags or rings of different drink packs. We are tired of seeing hundreds of images on television, but what are the first and simple steps that we can do to fight against this? Or at least to slow the growth rate of plastic materials in our oceans?
Here is a list of simple changes and swaps that we can apply in our day-to-day life.
The basic “Takeaways”
The plastic “to go” items that became so fashionable a few years ago are one of the main reasons of the increasing global plastic waste. Picking up takeaway meals in single-use plastic tappers + plastic bag + plastic cutlery (how much waste for just one meal! Think about it!). The single-use coffee cups, which are thrown after 10 min. This cups look like paper, but contain a large amount of plastic, so that it doesn’t leak. The thousands and millions of plastic straws in drinks…
• Reusable coffee cup. It can be made of bamboo, ceramic or hard plastic (low cost: take a normal cup from home).
• Reusable water bottle, either glass or aluminum as you like best (low cost: reuse any glass bottle of a drink that you have finished).
• Bamboo Cutlery Set (low cost: take the cutlery you have at home).
• Reusable aluminum takeout container (low cost: any tapper or container that you already have at home, reuse any ice cream container or even reuse large glass jars from other products).
• Reusable straw made out of aluminum, glass, bamboo, rice, pasta… There are many versions! Join the movement #withoutstrawplease (low cost: drink it without a straw!).
• Clothe Shopping Bags / Tote Bags (low cost: reuse plastic bags over and over).
In the Kitchen
In the kitchen, we can find many plastic elements, such as kitchen utensils. These should not be used, since the contact of plastic with high temperatures is often not recommended. Scouring pads and brushes, along with plastic wrap, also produce a lot of plastic waste, of which all will end up in our landfills and oceans.
• Wood or aluminum kitchen utensils.
• Beeswax wrap to cover bread, cut vegetables, cover bowls… (low cost: use any reused glass container or any tapper that you might have to save your food).
• Copper scourers and wooden brushes for cleaning.
In the Bathroom
This is where I personally produce the vast majority of my plastic waste. At the moment, I am using many products that I have been receiving as gifts on special dates. Before buying new ones, I really want to use what I already have at home. Anyway, I still have a couple of changes that I would like to mention for toothbrushes and toothpaste, all kinds of soaps and shaving.
• Bamboo toothbrush or brush with interchangeable head (reminder: bamboo is compostable but you have to remove the tufts since they are still made of plastic or similar materials).
• Pill Toothpaste (low cost: you can find super easy DIY toothpaste or toothpowder on any online platform).
• Safety Razor (where you just need to change the razor blade); It is an investment, but in the long run it is much cheaper than the use and throw-away.
• Solid soaps for any purpose. Normally made out with natural products without parabens or silicones added. They come without wrapping or paper wrapping. Example of solid shampoo: A 100-gram bar of soap is equivalent to three 300 ml bottles, which gives approximately 75-90 washes.
• Ear swabs/cotton buds made out of bamboo, paper or reusable silicone.
My weakest point is in Cosmetics since I can’t find the perfect products that convince me 100%.
The first swap I did is to change to cosmetic products that come in glass jars, vegan, without animal cruelty, natural/organic cosmetics and don’t contain any micro-plastics or products that could be harmful to the environment. Finding them is not easy.
I’m testing Ringana for face cleansing and face treatments and NUI for makeup. (low cost: look for easy cosmetic DIY with homemade products, such as blush with kitchen spices).
To remove my make-up I use reusable make-up remover pads (low cost: you can find easy DIY with the leftover towels and old pieces of clothing, as I have done).
Concluding, it is quite easy to take the first steps towards reducing the consumption of plastics. With changes as simple as the ones I have exposed, we can create a great impact on our waste. There are many more swaps, the lists would be endless, but I think these are the simplest and most applicable on a day-to-day basis without having to readjust our lifestyles.
An important reminder: The first step to living a more sustainable lifestyle is to use everything you have at home first. When there is a need to buy something new, be aware of the products to be purchased; consider the different options and choose the most eco-friendly and plastic-free possible.
Currently, there are a lot of physical stores (preferable) and Online that offer sustainable products, you just have to search a little. I encourage you to make the change!