I once read somewhere that man is a walking poison. Almost everything we touch dies. It may sound too far-fetched, but if you think about it, it’s true. If you dare touch a stalagmite or a stalactite, it can stop growing, which by the way takes thousands of years to grow. If you touch a coral, it could die. If you touch a sea star, it could die. That being said, we humans undoubtedly can cause great impact on our surroundings.
We are given dominion over all things. But as we advanced through the years, we have forgotten the real reason why we have dominion over things – nature is our responsibility.
Our irresponsible acts have done great damage to our planet and have caused a lot of environmental issues. One of these is improper waste disposal. There is garbage everywhere and most of them are plastic.
Plastic has contributed to the advancement of humankind, but we have reached a point where plastic consumption has become too much. Consumerism has made us think that everything has to be wrapped in plastic when it is not.
So in celebration of Earth Day, I am taking to heart this year’s theme which is ‘End Plastic Pollution’. We cannot totally obliterate plastic because the modern world still needs it. But what we can do to help solve one of our environmental problems today is to reduce our consumption of plastic. We cannot blame others for their irresponsibility if we ourselves are also part of the problem. Even if we throw our plastics properly on our garbage bins, the fact that we are still buying products and items wrapped in plastic still makes us one of the contributors of plastic pollution.
So as the first step to making a real change to ourselves and to the world, let us reduce our plastic consumption as much as possible.
Here are ten ways on how we can help reduce our plastic consumption.
1. Carry a reusable water bottle/coffee cup.
You have probably heard of this before. This one is applicable to anyone especially those who love to frequently dine in coffee shops. As much as possible, bring your own coffee cup so the baristas don’t have to use a plastic or paper cup for you. Moreover, invest in a quality water bottle and bring it everywhere with you so you won’t be tempted to buy bottled water.
2. Bring a canvas or tote bag when grocery shopping. If you don’t have one, ask for a paper bag instead.
Whether you are a frequent shopper or not, find a way to have your own canvas or tote bag where you can place your groceries so you won’t need a plastic bag for your items. You will have less trash if you make this a regular shopping habit.
3. Use reusable straws and cutleries.
A straw is not really necessary if you are drinking pure liquids. So if you are only drinking a juice or soda, you can always refuse to have one. However, using a straw can be necessary as well if you are drinking fruit shakes or milk teas that has toppings or pearl sinkers. In order to avoid using plastic straws, use reusable metal straws instead. When you’re dining at a fast food or any food shop, you can also try to bring you own cutleries.
4. Go directly to the source. Buy from the farmer’s market.
Most items from groceries and big malls are wrapped in plastic packaging and it can be difficult to avoid them since fruits and vegetables are already pre-packaged. That is why in order to avoid this problem, go directly to the farmer’s market instead. Bring your own grocery bag and that’s it! No unnecessary packaging. And as a bonus, it’s much cheaper when you go directly to the source.
5. Grow and cook your own food. Lessen your purchasing habits in convenience stores and fast food restaurants.
In this fast-paced world, some of us tend to resort to buying ready-made food instead of cooking our own. This huge demand for ready to eat meals has increased the production of food wrapped in plastic packaging all over the world. Cook your own food instead and pack your lunch to avoid buying from fast food restaurants. And if you can, try to grow your own food at home.
6. Learn how to make own cleaning products.
Chemical cleaning products are already poisonous to nature and what makes it even worse is that most of them are in plastic bottles and packaging. Try to use natural products to clean your home. For instance, clean with baking soda and vinegar instead.
7. Learn how to make your own beauty products.
Some of the skin care products nowadays are too harmful to the environment. Facial scrubs contain microbeads that contain plastic. When it is accumulated and washed away in the ocean, it can kill our fishes and all other marine life. For a scrub, you can mix olive oil, honey, and sugar instead. It’s much cheaper and you can easily find these items right in your kitchen.
8. Consider using reusable pads or a menstrual cup.
Sanitary pads, tampons, and diapers take 500 to 800 years to decompose. Us women consume a lot of pads and tampons every month. We are one of the biggest contributors to plastic pollution. So as much as possible, try to use reusable pads or a menstrual cup instead.
9. Buy in bulk. Avoid small packets.
Shampoos and other toiletries wrapped in small packets are one of the biggest contributors to plastic pollution. In order to avoid this, buy in bulk and purchase your toiletries in bottles instead to lessen plastic consumption. And if you can, try learning how to make your own soap, shampoo, and conditioner.
10. Take time to look for products wrapped in paper instead of plastic.
We can totally avoid plastic if we take time to look for products wrapped in paper instead of plastic. For instance, if you can find a carton of milk instead of a milk in a plastic bottle, buy the one in a carton instead.
Ending plastic pollution is a process and all of us are in a different level of this process. Some may have already reached the point of a zero waste lifestyle and some of us are still starting. No matter where you are on this journey, it is never too late to learn more about reducing our carbon footprint.
We may not be able to do all of these things, but as a good start, we can change the world if we #RefusePlastic.
Congratulations! You are one step to making a huge difference. If you are interested to buy eco-friendly products, here are some of my recommended shops. Go check them out.