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How do I stop using plastic? It’s everywhere!
It would seem that plastic is unavoidable in this day and age, and to tell the truth, you do have to work a little to avoid it.
But the payoff is pretty high, and you end up with much nicer looking things. Not to mention a happier conscience and a cleaner, healthier environment.
The secret is…
Changing your mindset.
(the steps for which I’ve outlined a bit further down).
It’s mainly an awareness thing. When you become aware of the vast amount of plastic that passes through your life on a daily basis, and that of others’ (and the consequences of this), your attitude and mindset start to change.
As a result, almost without thinking about it, your actions change too. Guilt hits when you forget your reusable coffee cup, and you resolve to try harder to remember it.
You stop putting your fresh produce from the supermarket in plastic produce bags, because you realise that, for the most part, it comes in its own perfect packaging and doesn’t need any extra.
Beeswax wraps at the market suddenly have more appeal. You decide to give them a go, to reduce your reliance on cling wrap.
You start taking a reusable water bottle with you everywhere you go, rather than buy a disposable plastic one each time. This is mainly because you realised that bottled water is two- to three-THOUSAND times more expensive than tap water. Seriously.
While it’s not perfect, you start buying your crisps in the one bag, rather than eight or ten tiny bags inside another giant bag. For portioning, you just use a container you already had at home.
You need to develop plastic awareness and avoidance tactics, and below are the steps to starting this process.
Develop an awareness of the plastic around you:
Just look, and take note. That’s all.
Everything you see or pick up, notice what it’s made of. Likely, 95% of the time, it’s going to have at least one plastic component.
Get into the habit of being more mindful of the things around you and what they are made of.
Now that I’m familiar, I try not to do this too much, I just work on the other elements below. Otherwise I turn into Horton when he realises that the entire jungle is a house of death.
Become aware of the hidden plastics in your life:
There are many hidden plastics in your life that you may not know about.
– microbeads in beauty products
– plastic in teabags
– chewing gum (yes, you heard me right)
– cigarettes (plastic filter)
– wet wipes (these are bloody terrible for plumbing and waterways, even the “flushable” ones)
– glitter (but don’t worry, there’s eco-friendly glitter for Mardis Gras. And children)
– most “vegan leather” products (yeah, it’s just code for plastic, most often; although there are brands experimenting with things like pineapple leather, which is super cool).
This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a sample to give you an idea.
This is why it’s important to do a little research if you’re truly interested in cutting down your plastic use, or fully committed to removing it from your life altogether.
Become aware of the consequences of plastic:
No matter your exposure to the zero waste/environmentalist movement, you must know that plastic is no good for wildlife or ecosystems.
Some of the impacts are:
– Polluted natural areas
– Dead animals (suffocation, starvation, ruined ecosystems)
– PEOPLE eating plastic without knowing it
– Dying ecosystems
– Poor aesthetics, both in our homes and in nature
– Expanding toxic landfills
– And many more.
Let me expand on the “people eating plastic” thing. There is so much plastic in the world that all sorts of animals can’t help eating it, to the extent that it’s now ending up in our food.
But doesn’t it just go into their gut? No. Microplastics can be so small that they make it into the animal’s bloodstream, which goes directly through their flesh and into parts of their body that are typically eaten.
Think you’re clear because you’re vegan? Think again. Microplastics are also sometimes collected amongst crops and produce. The plastic may be lying in the field at the time of harvest, or the plant may grow around it and incorporate it from an early stage.
There is also the risk of polyester fibres from clothing ending up in your food, just like you might find a stray hair in your food.
Each person is eating approximately one credit card worth of plastic each year, without knowing it. If that doesn’t make you want to stop using plastic, I don’t know what will.
I recommend you watch A Plastic Ocean (it’s a documentary), which will tell you all about the impacts of plastic.
If you think about the statistics, about how much plastic you throw away each year and how many animals are killed by plastic each year…
How many animals have you killed, personally?
It’s not a pleasant thought, is it?
But thankfully there’s plenty you can do to make up for it. Read how in part two of this post, 14 Practical Steps to Stop Using Plastic.
There’s something else you can do, too – enrol in my FREE 9-lesson Beginner’s Guide to Zero Waste Minimalism email course!
It provides plenty of inspiration, tips and challenges to get you started towards this lifestyle. And did I mention it’s free? Find out more and sign up here.
Image credit: Anwaar Ali on Unsplash