As many of you already know plastic surrounds our every day life 24/7. Everything from our toothbrushes, micro plastics in our toothpaste, it’s in our clothes and our every day products. Some of the plastics are not easily discovered, but the ones we do know about we can refuse and replace for something else more sustainable both for ourselves and our planet.
Through my many expededitions, especiallt throughout Asia I have seen beaches with plastic waste stretching miles and miles, animals being stuck in plastic strings and plastics being stuck on the sea bottom, killing the corals surrounding it. If we want to keep on living on this planet, we need to change this plastic behaviour. Now.
Why we need to go plastic free
Plastic comes from oil, extracted from ground through, for example, fracking, and goes through many chemical processes to finally end up as a plastic product for us to use. This whole process is extremely bad for our environment, and drains the oil recources from our planet. And then we throw the plastic product away.
If we can recycle plastic, what is the problem?
Well actually, that is not completely true. Lots of plastics are not recycleble, like some take away coffee mugs that are made by double layers of material which makes it impossible to recycle. Also if you fail to clean out your plastic container the recycling process is not possible either. And in developing countries there the lack of education in the matter together with too few recources the recycling process is not possible.
And the truth is, that only a small percentage of the plastic created throughout the world, even in the developed countries, goes to recycling. A lot of plastic is instead being sent to undeveloped countries or out to sea to create massive plastic islands killing fish and turtles that get stuck in the mess.
Plastic free July
So if you haven’t started with refusing, reducing or reusing your plastics, July is a good month to start, joining the #plasticfreejuly movement.
I do recommend to do this all of the other months too of course, but let’s start now, taking one step at the time. I am here to help!
#1 REFUSE PLASTIC BAGS
Let’s start with an easy step, shall we?
What we all can do today is replace the plastic bags we get in our stores with a backpack or a cloth bag! Note: You DO NOT have to go shopping for a special cloth bag to use for the occasion, just take what you’ve got or ask a friend to give one to you. Or use an old plastic bag you already bought and use it until it breaks. The idea is not to go buying new sustainable products, but to be creative and think wisely and not create more landfill.
I listed som “fun facts” about plastic bags I found on the fantastic site of Center for biological diversity to get you all motivated! Good luck and please hit me with some comments for more tips about going plastic free!
|10 Facts About Single-use Plastic Bags|
1. Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture.
2. It only takes about 14 plastic bags for the equivalent of the gas required to drive one mile.
3. The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year.
4. According to Waste Management, only 1 percent of plastic bags are returned for recycling. That means that the average family only recycles 15 bags a year; the rest end up in landfills or as litter.
5. Up to 80 percent of ocean plastic pollution enters the ocean from land.
6. At least 267 different species have been affected by plastic pollution in the ocean.
7. 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually.
8. One in three leatherback sea turtles have been found with plastic in their stomachs.
9. Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes.
10. It takes 500 (or more) years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately the bags don’t break down completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment.
#2 Reusable water bottles
Maybe this one doesn’t need much more explanation?
For those of us that live in a country where we can drink the water from the tap, there is no need whatsoever to buy water from the store. Use an old bottle and fill it up before heading out. And for those who need to buy water on a bottle, buy a big container and fill up an old bottle, to reduce the plastic waste.
Instead of using single use plastic to wrap our food and left-overs, I usually use a food container or two bowls placed upon each other. But if you are on your way travelling, the beeswax wrapper could be a more suiting option. It is all natural and reusable and keeps your food in perfect condition until it’s time to snack!
#4 Coffee mugs, not recycable
Say no to take away coffee mugs since many of them are not recyclable at all! There are many options of foldable silicon coffee mugs you can easily put in your bag for those coffee emergency situations, or even better, stay for a while in the coffee store and take your time to enjoy that freshly brewed cup!
#5 Bamboo toothbrush
I use a toothbrush made by bamboo! It is efficient to produce, completely recyclable and soft on my teeth!
#6 Moon cup
Best decision ever for me was to skip all single use tampons and use a mooncup made by silicon. I can use it up to 10 years, it’s kind to my body and saves me a lot of money! So, goodbye to single use sanitaries and plastic packages!
#7 No straws in my cup
Since many years it has been argued that drinking sodas with straws is better on your teeth. Peronally I don’t think drinking soda is either good for your teeth or your guts anyhow. But if in need of using a straw, for a milkshake for example, you might consider using a reusable straw made of acrylic, metall or glass. Fact is that straws are many times hard to recycle because of its size and lots of straws end up in landfill or in our oceans, creating a lot of problems for sea leaving creatures. One of those is the sea turtle that gets the straw stuck in its nose when inhaling, causing tremendous amount of pain.
#8 Shampoo and toothpaste
A lot of our daily use products, such as shampoo and toothpaste contain silicones and tiny micro plastics to make our hair shine and teeth sparkle. But thruth is that those ingredients are too tiny to stuck in the water filtration systems and instead ends up in our oceans. By mistake they become food for tiny sea creatures, that become food for fish, that we eat. And boom, we have a tummy full of micro plastics! Not so nice. There are many alternatives in the stores. Look for products containing less ingredients, no silicone or try to make your own!
#9 Clothes made by plastic
Maybe it sounds weird? But many clothes are made by plastic materials even though they are disguised under other names. Like fleece for example. A super comfy warm material, but which release thousands of micro plastics out into the oceans every time you wash it. Best option for clothes is the linen, organic eco cotton or rather second hand!
#10 your voice matters!
All the advice above are good of course, but do you know what works the best? Your words! Your words have more power than you could ever imagine. By spreading the word about reducing plastic usage, reuse what we already got and recycle what cannot be used any longer, we can have such a great impact on the people around us. And that my dear friends is the key to change!