Plastic has become a huge part of our daily lives. While it no doubt makes our lives easier and more convenient in many ways, it has led to a tsunami of plastic waste that no one is quite sure what to do with. Its omnipresence may make it difficult for us to give it up; it requires not only a change in habits, but also a change of mindset. Thankfully, organisations and governments around the world are proposing measures to reduce their impact on the environment. In fact, this year, the EU will ban the sale of single-use plastics such as drinking straws, cutlery or cotton buds within its borders. But there are things that we can do in our personal capacity to curb the rise of the plastic tsunami. Here are 15 ways that you can reduce your plastic waste.
Here are some facts about plastic waste:
- Every year, 500 billion plastic bottles are produced globally
- There is more than 150 million tons of waste in the ocean
- By 2050, oceans will likely contain more plastic than fish
- In 2020, we generated more than 500 million tons of of plastic waste, 900% more than in 1980
- Single-use plastics have an average useful life of 12- 15 minutes and can take up to 500 years to disintegrate
- Avoid single use plastics- plastic straws, plates and cutlery make our lives easier, but they have a serious impact on the planet. Instead, use metal or bamboo alternatives.
- Buy in bulk- disposable containers are ubiquitous (polystyrene trays, PET bottles, tetra paks, plastic containers, etc) but more and more stores are offering the possibility to buy foods like cereals and rice in bulk.
- Rethink your food storage- instead of using plastic baggies, plastic wrap and plastic storage containers, use a bento box or tiffin. Instead of using plastic zipper bags or wrapping things in Saran wrap, use jars or glass containers.
- Take a cloth bag when you go shopping
- Shop at a local farmers market- Farmers markets are a great way to buy fresh, local produce without plastic, as long as you remember to bring your own bags.
- Replace plastic Tupperware for glass or steel containers
- Put your plastic waste in the correct recycling container
- Avoid using cosmetics that use microplastics
- Buy less clothing, and wash them only when necessary- a single wash can cause 700 000 bits of microplastics to be released into the environment
- Buy “natural” fabrics like cotton, hemp and linen. Processing these materials is far less water-intensive than synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon and they will last longer
- Use a refillable water bottle
- DIY your cleaning products- use a mixture of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water as an all-purpose spray cleaner (storing it in a reused spray bottle) and produce wash.
- Try natural beeswax coated cloth wraps instead of plastic cling film
- Buy necessary plastic items used instead of new
- Compost food waste to avoid plastic garbage bags
You might also like: 15 Most Polluted Cities in the World
These are just some of the small, but effective ways to reduce your plastic waste impact on the planet. If everyone were more mindful of the plastic waste crisis plaguing the planet, we could start to undo some of the damage we’ve done in the name of convenience.