60-100 millions barrels of oil are used annually to manufacture a year’s worth of plastic needed worldwide. A staggering number, yet not altogether surprising considering we use some amount of plastic at almost every level of life. Basic necessities like food and water come in plastic containers (that are believed to leach chemicals and plastic particles into our food and drink resulting in “plastic pollutants” making their way to our bloodstreams) to the cosmetics we use (microbeads in face wash, plastic formulas in our lotions and creams) to all kinds of utilitarian items we use on a day to day to basis without much thought on the long-term impact they will have on the environment. They hurt our wildlife and ultimately come full circle by becoming part of our food chain (if you eat fish, you probably eat plastic too!).
Here are a few easy ways to work your way around using plastic every day:
- Ditch the use of straws! Drink up straight from the bottle/cup or use reusable straws made of steel!
- Speaking of straws…carry your own bottle to work, school, for a run, picnic, long drive, meeting, wherever you can! Drinking water is great for health and drinking from your own (preferably non-plastic) bottle of water is great for our planet too.
- Carry your own shopping bag! Store allocated shopping bags, sometimes for the most meager purchases, are completely unnecessary–whether plastic-based or paper-based. Carry a cloth tote bag or simply reuse durable plastic bags from home and you will create a significant dent in your plastic consumption.
- Coffee junkies that make a run for a takeaway (insert relevant coffee chain) cuppa every morning—you would do well (and do the planet a favor) by carrying your own thermos. Styrofoam, paper or plastic—this kind of waste is unnecessary.
- We live in a time when having just one type of face wash or lotion isn’t enough. Variety is the spice of life, but the plastic packaging of your cosmetics alone is hugely detrimental to the face of our planet. Opt for brands that bother with eco-friendly packaging. Buy from companies that find innovative substitutes for plastic in and on their products.
- Takeaway from restaurants can’t be wholly avoided, but whenever and wherever possible carry a container from home and say no to plastic packaging. The same applies to buying fruit and vegetable in plastics bags and boxes. If you can extract your fruit or veggies whole without doing damage to the box, there is a possibility that the plastic containers can be effectively reused!
- Plastic cutlery hails from the same category of unnecessary plastic packaging that we just don’t need. Push your favorite eateries to switch to reusable materials or plant-based recycled cutlery and takeaway boxes. When ordering in, ask the restaurant to NOT send the reams of paper napkins and bundles of plastic cutlery that have no use in a functional home kitchen.
- Support companies and brands that make the effort to make your product sustainable, non-toxic and plastic free! Read the fine lines and ingredients of the goods you invest your money in and see if there is a way to replace the stuff that carries plastic. Products or services that try to reduce their carbon footprint tend to go great lengths to ensure fair trade, minimum damage to the environment and maximum benefit to the consumer. They also end up spending more on developing such a product or service. For those of that can afford it, we should be championing the work of such enterprises.