Waste is taking over the planet. Single-use plastics are in the oceans and our landfills. Microplastics have been found in drinking water, even in our bodies (!). Yuck! And they’re terrible for the environment.
There’s one thing that annoys me so much these days: people on social media showing off their single-use plastic. I mean, your Starbucks coffee looks delicious, even Instagrammable but YOU look terrible drinking a beverage for 15, 20 or 30 minutes from a container that you’ll throw away afterward.
At a time when the Amazon is burning, and a 16-year-old girl is making more sense than most world leaders, showing off a healthy smoothie in a plastic cup should be a big NO.
So, what can you do to reduce waste?
Check out these tips:
1. Say no to disposable straws and cutlery.
If you love eating out at a food truck or food court, think about the amount of plastic cutlery you use in one week, one month, one year. This adds up in a landfill.
The average person in North America and Europe uses 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of single-use plastics a year.
Reusable cutlery and straws come in a variety of materials: bamboo, wood, which is compostable, and stainless steel, which you can use for the rest of your life. You can purchase foldable cutlery that fits any bag or take the one you have at home with you.
2. Bring your shopping bag.
I started bringing my bag while vacationing in Germany many years ago. Back then, most stores offered plastic bags for sale in case you needed them. Nobody did. Everyone carried their bags everywhere.
My tote is at least ten years old, and it’s still in one piece. It’s foldable, and I take it with me everywhere I go. By using it, I avoid plastic bags with an average life of 15 minutes that can decompose in 10 to 1000 years.
Consider adding reusable produce bags to your arsenal as well. In this blog post, I show you how to sew your own.
3. Carry a reusable water bottle or mug.
Starbucks announced that they’d stop using plastic straws by 2020 all around the world to reduce waste. But what about the single-use plastic cups and lids that annoy me so much? They still pollute.
If you can’t live without your coffee or frappuccino, I understand. I’m a coffee addict. But it’s time to bring your mug or thermos. A plastic cup can take 450 years to decompose, that’s almost as long as the world’s oldest mollusk.
If you’re worried that a mug will take up space in your bag, collapsable alternatives are available.
4. Switch to a zero-waste shampoo
Apart from the plastic bottle, some shampoo brands have palm oil in their ingredients. Many products use palm oil, and it’s wiping out the rainforest in Asia causing the death of nearly 150,000 orangutans.
By comparison, a zero-waste shampoo is made mostly from natural ingredients, doesn’t need a container and won’t pollute the environment. It also lasts the same amount of time as a regular shampoo.
I recently made the switch to a shampoo bar, and I’m pretty happy with the results. Using one not only reduces waste but each time I buy one at a Zero Waste market, I’m also supporting a local business.
5. Use sustainable hygiene products
I used to buy face pads every month. I would use one in the morning for my rose water and one at night to remove my make-up. It seemed like an enormous amount of waste. And they weren’t cheap either.
So, I made my own out of old T-shirts. I use them, wash them, and use them again. The planet is thankful and my wallet, too!
Periods also generate tons of waste and are bad for the environment. Consider switching to the menstrual cup or reusable pads and liners.
6. Mend your clothes, reduce waste
Do you need to have the latest skirt, blouse, cardigan only to throw it out after a month or two because it’s out of fashion again?
Fast fashion pollutes water with toxic chemicals and generates greenhouse gases. 75% of clothing goes directly to the landfill while only 15% is donated.
Instead of throwing your recent purchases out because of a tiny hole, donate or choose to mend your clothes to make them last longer.
Embroidery and Sashiko stitching are great ways to decorate and patch your clothes to cover up wear and tear. You’ll also create a unique piece of clothing that none of the big chain stores has.
7. Buy local, save the bees
Do you need a jar of African Honey that’ll leave a carbon footprint to get to you?
When you buy honey from a nearby beekeeper not only will you support the bee population but you’ll also boost your health. Did you know that raw honey can get rid of allergies?
You’ll also support agriculture with less or no pesticides. That’s a good thing for the bees.
Buying local is also good for the economy, and it strengthens your community.
These changes are simple to implement and can make a massive difference in the environment.
Have you made some changes in your day to day life to support our planet? Share them in the comments!