A few months ago, I received an email from my travel agent advising me to not pack plastic bags of any kind on our upcoming trip to Tanzania. This country, along with others in Africa, has implemented a full on ban on plastic carrier (shopping) bags and we could be fined if we bring any with us in our luggage. Not a problem, I can pack toiletries in fabric cases and use a re-usable container to hold some laundry detergent – things I would have normally taken in gallon sized ziplock bags.
This got me thinking about our plastics use around the house. All day long we are using single-use plastics and almost everything we buy comes wrapped in some kind of plastic packaging. When I receive a delivery, the extra space in the box is filled with plastic or styrofoam. Why not shredded paper? Why not cardboard?
All of this plastic waste is taking a huge toll on our earth. While modern biodegradable plastics do exist, some traditional plastics take over a thousand years to fully decompose! While some of it can be recycled, not every municipality is equipped to handle the amount of plastic waste being produced and used in their city. The end result is that a ton of plastic is still ending up in landfills and in our oceans. This is not even considering the environmental impacts of producing these materials.
It may seem as if a solution is out of our hands – it is governments and industries that need to make changes. While governments and industries certainly can make a huge impact, the average consumer certainly has a say in the matter. If consumers start demanding eco-friendly packaging, sooner or later, it will become the norm. By reducing the amount of single use plastics you buy, you are directly impacting the amount of plastic waste ending up in landfills.
Here are some ways you can cut back on your plastic use:
- Use fabric toiletry bags when traveling.
- Use shampoo/conditioner & soap in bar foam instead of bottled.
- Use a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water.
- Bring your own mug when going to a cafe for hot beverages.
- Make your own spreadable butter and store it in a reusable container instead of buying margarines or butters in plastic containers.
- Choose beverages that are packaged in cardboard instead of plastic. They even make boxes of water now.
- Bring your own reusable shopping bags.
- Skip the balloons at your next party.
- Choose paper straws and skip the plastic lid.
- Women: rethink your menstrual products! Switch to applicator free tampons, menstrual cups or re-usable pads.
Please use the comment section to add your own ideas on how people can cut back on their plastic use!