Plastic waste is a major global issue. In the last century, humanity has created so much plastic that today there are literally mountains and islands made out of plastic waste.
We might be facing a near future where there is more plastic in the oceans than fish. This is why everyone needs to take action. This list contains 5 simple actions you can start doing today to bring down your plastic footprint.
Bring your own shopping bags
A trillion plastic bags are used each year worldwide, most of them are single-use bags that are only used for an average of 12 minutes before being discarded.
Fortunately, this is one issue we can change easily by buying reusable bags, banning plastic bags and creating alternative materials to make bags that will decompose in a shorter amount of time.
Many countries and cities worldwide have begun limiting the amount of bags used by enforcing an extra cost for the bag, placing new taxes or even banning the use of this type of plastic bags altogether.
Denmark was the first country that passed a plastic bag tax in 1993, now Danes have one of the lowest consumption rates of plastic bags. In England, the amount of plastic bags used by shoppers plummeted by more than 85% after the introduction of a 5p charge for each bag. Mexico city also placed an added cost for plastic bags but it did not work due to a lack of enforcement. Rwanda has become one of the leading countries in this issue, it is illegal to import, produce, use or sell plastic bags and plastic packaging except within specific industries like hospitals and pharmaceuticals.
Sip your drink instead of using straws
Millions of straws are used every day around the globe. People have come to expect plastic straws in every drink, in an example of extreme waste being generated for minimal convenience. Plastic straws are one of the 10 most commonly found plastic items in the oceans.
It is also the easiest plastic item to stop using, by simply refusing them and sipping your drink instead, or by using a straw made out of bamboo, stainless steel, glass or disposable paper.
Bring your own containers for takeout
It may be a bit of a hassle to bring your own containers everytime you want to get some takeout food, but the containers many restaurants or food vendors use for this purpose are made up of one of the worst kind of plastics out there, styrofoam, so the effort is worth it.
You can also ask your favorite vendors to stop using that kind of container and switch to containers made with eco-friendly materials.
New materials are being developed every day to substitute plastics in this kind of containers, like this styrofoam alternative made from mushrooms by Ecovative, a small company that is developing new plastic-like materials made from mushrooms.
Get and use a reusable water bottle
Not only do water bottles end up in landfills and oceans, polluting the environment, but bottled water has a high cost when it comes to extracting and distributing them around the world. The best solution is to get a stainless steel bottle (Klean Kanteen) or stainless steel travel mug, and filling it up before stepping outside.
Another solution is to get a BPA free bottle or travel mug. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s and has some recorded health hazards. Although recent studies have found that the chemicals used to replace BPA may have nearly the exact impact on the human body.
There is also new innovative ideas to substitute water bottles like this edible water blob developed by a startup based in London, which received over $1 million USD through crowdfunding to develop this alternative to water bottles made out of seaweed. Not only is it biodegradable you can actually eat the package.
Favor products that use a minimal amount of plastic or come in nonplastic wraps or containers.
Your power as a consumer is a very effective means to produce change. It is proven that business and brands that feel sufficient amount of pressure or see their sales drop will change their ways in order to maintain their reputation and consumer preference.
Many products out there already have nonplastic alternatives like bamboo toothbrushes, or disposable paper cutlery, or even eco-friendly computers and computer accessories. It is just a matter of making a conscious decision to bring down your plastic consumption.
The world’s first plastic-free aisle was launched in Amsterdam in February 2018 by Dutch supermarket Ekoplaza. The aisle allows shoppers to buy 700 everyday products that are free from plastic packaging.