Down To Earth: Plastic


Caring is cool, and taking just a few extra measure in our daily lives can help to make the difference between a sustainable presence on this planet and a not-so-promising path forward – for the earth and for us. Decreasing your plastic consumption is a great place to begin. There's a lot of room for improvement, which, at the very least, means there are plenty of ways for you to change up your habits! Let's get started:

A few quick facts on plastic

  • in the last ten years alone, we have produced more plastic than during the entirety of the 20th century
  • Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year
  • there's an island made primarily of plastic in the middle of the North Pacific Gyre called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch ... and it’s the size of Europe India, and Mexico combined
  • one million sea birds and 100 000 marine mammals are killed each year due to plastic in the oceans
  • essentially every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some form

And how to cut down

  • buy in bulk: bring your own mason jars to your bulk foods store or simply the bulk section of your supermarket and load up on all the dry goods you could dream of! everything looks better in a glass jar anyway ...
  • invest in some reusable bags: these guys can be super cute, are multipurpose, and some stores even give you a discount for using them (or exempt you from a small plastic fine!)
  • look for earth-friendly toiletries: bamboo hair- and tooth-brushes with natural bristles, soaps and hair products that come in bar form rather than in plastic containers, and avoid face washes and exfoliants that contain plastic microbeads
  • get into (easy) natural cleaning: my mom always taught me to clean the floors with a basic solution of vinegar and water. as for laundry? check out soap nuts ... these petroleum-free, biodegradable berry shells are native to Nepal and India and contain compounds that act as all-natural detergents and foaming agents. and throw in some baking soda to freshen up your whites without bleach
  • shop local: opt to hit the farmers' market instead of regular grocery stores – typically, vendors at the former use less plastic and can more easily accommodate unique packaging requests from customers
  • rethink your drink: stock up on some good-looking reusable bottles and thermoses to replace your disposable water bottles and coffee cups. and ditch the plastic straws! they contain toxic BPA, take hundreds of years to break down, and are often found causing harm to marine animals. if you're dying to sip, try out a glass or metal alternative
  • grow your own food: if you have the time and space, give homegrown vegetables a shot! tomatoes, peas, and herbs like basil are super easy to grow and have no plastic included
  • consider the packaging: purchase food and drink that come in glass jars / bottles or cardboard boxes over those that come in plastic containers – jars can be reused in an infinite number of ways, and paper products biodegrade much more easily than their plastic counterparts
  • burn candles, like those made of soy wax (not paraffin), or incense instead of using plastic air fresheners. you'll definitely gain points for ambience on this one, too ... and while you're at it, switch to matches or a refillable lighter instead of a disposable plastic one
  • and lastly, if you can't avoid plastic, try to be conscious about it. wash and reuse plastic containers to store leftovers or pack to-go meals in, and learn the ins and outs of recycling plastics. generally, recycling centres accept #1, 2, and 5 plastics. #3, 4, and 6 plastics are moderately recyclable. #7 plastics, known as "other," are unfortunately nearly impossible to recycle as they contain a combination of many different plastics (thanks to NationSwell for this info)

 

Image credit: @tarravechia on Instagram


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