The other day I made a long-delayed trip to the supermarket. While running errands, thirst got the better of me and I bought myself a bottled water. After gulping down the whole bottle, I threw it in the recycle bin. But something clicked inside me and it got me thinking that how much we depend on plastic material. I looked around and saw plastic garbage bags, packaging, bottles, shopping bags, diapers, and whatnot. It is even used as food containers for food that we consume on a daily basis!
Although we are fully aware of the fact that plastic is hazardous to our health and environment, yet we can’t bring down its usage. We pretend that everything is just peachy and go about our business. Sadly, if we keep on going like this, the world and our future generation will suffer. We go to the beach and gaze at the vast open sea, not realizing that underneath there is a huge pile of plastic waste. It is not a sea anymore; it has almost turned into a plasticized soup.
Thousands of marine creatures like whales, turtles and sea birds die annually from water pollution, ingestion of plastic or entanglement in marine debris. Did you know that there is a garbage whirlpool, the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, that is almost the size of Texas? It is absolutely disheartening that we humans are responsible for creating such a huge mess.
Each of us can contribute in one way or another and quit a few plastic materials. It won’t cause you inconvenience and it will cut down the production of plastic wastage on a large scale. The world will become a better place to live, and there will be more fish in water than plastic junk.
Top 10 Tips on How to Reduce Your Use of Plastics
Here is how I am going to reduce the use of plastic.
1. Buy a Reusable Bottle
For most of us, water is the only thing that can quench the thirst. If you tend to get thirsty frequently, carry a reusable water bottle with yourself. I don’t know if you have noticed or not, whenever we are shopping, dining out or on a trip, we buy mineral bottled water the most. While the water feels so good and hydrating, the plastic bottles are extremely disastrous to our environment. The water is packaged in disposable plastic casing that go to the bin as soon as they are empty. They are cheap to buy, but they are costing a lot to our earth. During their manufacturing, toxic chemicals and carcinogens are released into the air. Once they are used, they just sit and cause pollution. It takes roughly about 450 years for a plastic to degrade. Can you imagine the amount of plastic we are surrounded by!
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2. Switch to a Reusable Cloth Bag or Choose Paper Bag
Whenever I go to do groceries, I come back with a huge number of plastic shopping bags that I throw away the very instant. Plastic bags are bad not only for us, but for animals as well. They can poison a dolphin, entangle a Ridley turtle, and cause a pigeon to choke. Do you want to be the part of the killing circle? Switch to reusable cloth or paper bags. I decided to use a big-sized cloth bag and it was far more convenient than a plastic bag.
3. Say No to Toxic Plastic Straws
Smoothies, ice-cream soda floats, milkshakes, margarita… They sound amazing, don’t they? Bring it on and drink them away, but not with a plastic straw. In America alone, 500 million plastic straws are being used every single day. The figure is huge and the damage it causes is humongous. Don’t worry. Nobody is telling you to drink directly from the glass and risk ruining your favorite set of pants. When there is a will, there is a way. I was astonished to discover glass and metal straws. They are affordable, reusable, and easy to carry!
4. Change Your Toiletries
I scrub my face thrice a week, brush my teeth twice a day and shampoo my hair every alternate day. It turns out most of my toiletries contain tiny beads of plastic meant to exfoliate my skin and polish my teeth. Alas, they are poison to our habitat in stealth. The microplastics are hard to filter out and eventually make their way to the oceans. It is best to avoid products that have thermoplastic materials like polypropylene in them.
5. Carry a Travel Coffee Mug
Love your morning coffee way too much? Carry a travel coffee mug with you. Starbucks is heavenly, but Styrofoam or non-recyclable plastic lined paper cups are not. Apart from polluting the world, the expanded polystyrene releases a toxin known as Styrene. Polyethylene plastic lined paper cups are not readily recyclable. When we are happily sipping our coffee or tea, Styrene leaches out and contaminates our bodies. Plastic lining from the paper cup breaks down into micro plastic can be eaten by the marine or other animals and making their way into the food chain. Bring your own travel coffee mug or your own travel espresso maker.
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6. Potty Train Your Kid
Disposable diapers add an infinite amount of waste to landfills annually. Try to potty-train your children as soon as they begin to understand. I haven’t been successful, because diapers are a life-saver and potty training an infant is next to impossible. However, I have bought myself a couple of cloth, washable diapers. They will be helpful during a case of bad rash too!
7. Bring Your Containers
Whenever you takeout fresh food or leftovers from a restaurant, bring your own reusable container. Avoid using plastic-ware at home as well. In my kitchen, I have a drawer bursting with plastic storage containers that I often use to reheat leftovers in a microwave. The plastic contains Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that is released from a heated plastic. Once we ingest it, it imitates the functions of estrogen and causes hormonal issues.
8. No More Chewing Gum
Chewing gum is basically just plastic rubber. While originally, it was manufactured from a natural rubber and waxes, it didn’t take long for scientists to produce synthetic rubber in their labs. Nowadays, most of the gums you chew are merely plastic. Worst of all, chewing gum sticks to the pavement creating unsightly marks and cost a lot to remove.
9. Limit Toys
Children love toys. You can give hundreds of toys to them, but it will never be enough. What’s more, kids love to break toys even more than playing with them. The result is a trash can full of bits and pieces of colorful plastic material. Studies have shown that plastic toys contain phthalates that leech out when wet. The chemical is hazardous to a child’s growing body and brain. For a change, you can buy wooden toys that are more environmental-friendly. You can also choose toys with keep sake value or with longer shell life that can be passed on or sold off later.
10. Give Up Disposable Cutlery
We have all turned to disposable cutlery in despair. Whenever I have an outdoor party or picnic, I usually buy disposable cutlery to save myself from the horror of dirty dishes and broken plates. Well, that won’t happen anymore. If you tend to buy food from vendors or food van, carry a spoon, fork and a traveling mug with yourself.
These are only a few of numerous ways we can cut down the use of plastic in our daily lives. It doesn’t seem important now, but few decades down the line, the whole world will suffer – more animals will be endangered, or worse extinct, humans will have to battle various new diseases and our landfills will be irreversibly damaged. Take a little step today and make an effort!
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