4 Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Consumption and Not Be Lectured By the Elderly

 
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I can make a blanket assumption that everyone would say this picture of the ocean is stunning. The deep orange sand, the foamy white waves, and the mingling of teal and aquamarine water untainted by humanity is a depiction of beauty in its purest form . I hoped you picked up on the key words “untainted by humanity.” There are a lot of things humanity does well, but one thing we really don’t is taking care of the planet. Now before you roll your eyes and switch your browser to Facebook, here me out. People who take active steps to care for the environment and speak up about it are usually slapped with a green stereotype. Their opposers say that there are bigger problems to worry about and while I understand their point, I believe that you are not forced to choose a side. You can be both. Both environmentally passionate and morally/politcally/financially/*insert preferred topic here* passionate. If you’re a Christian like me, you might find this whole “environmentally-conscious” topic to be an ironically big obstacle in conversations. Ironic because in the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, before man is even mentioned and created God creates the earth. The sun and moon, the ocean and the land, the birds and fish and animals, and He declares it as good. Then in verse 26 He creates man. And man is described in two ways. First as made in “[their] image, after [their] likeness,” and then to “have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every creeping things that creeps on the earth.” So right there in that verse I see God telling us to be both. Both morally conscious because we are made in His likeness and environmentally conscious because that is the job He delegated to us. Whether you are a Christian or not I think it’s important find your “why.” This helps this BIG topic become smaller and more personal. If you can’t find a personal reason, shift your focus to facts: this is the only earth you’ll get and you should take its care seriously.

Now I’m not expecting you to give up your cars or start growing all your own food or buy a loom to weave your own clothes, but little daily choices that you make can make a big impact. Little changes add up and eventually if enough people make little changes they turn into trends and trends help bring about big change in terms of business practices and legislation.

So where do we start? Plastic.

Plastic is the biggest threat to our environment and the easiest to reduce right now. And reducing your plastic is something you can do without taking on the green stereotype or having to drive a Prius. Here are 4 easy ways to reduce your plastic consumption and none of them will induce an eye roll or a lecture from an elderly person (who ironically grew up using a lot less plastic than their children (our parents) and now us!).

 
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#1 - Stop Using

produce

bags

What’s the first thing you do when get home from the grocery store? Put everything that’s perishable in the fridge. This includes your produce, which is probably wrapped in a long plastic bag that you immediately throw in the trash. That plastic bag was used for less than an hour and now it will sit in a landfill FOREVER. Obviously these bags serve a purpose: to protect our produce from the grimy rails of the grocery cart. But guess what there are ways to do that without using the plastic bag! 1.) Shop your produce last and place it on top of other items or on/in your reusable shopping bag. 2.) Wash your produce at home with Veggie Wash which is formulated to eliminate germs, dirt, and pesticides! 3.) Use reusable cotton mesh bags instead and when you’re done using them store them in your reusable shopping bags for the next grocery run. EcoBags has a wide variety of 100% organic cotton bags for produce, laundry, and more! Bonus: They’re a certified B-Corp!

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#2 - Swap Out Plastic Utensils for Bamboo/wood

It’s summertime so that means a lot of BBQs, days by the pool, and parties. If you’re a host the last thing you want to do is use your own personal cutlery (props if you do though!). So instead of buying flimsy (and ugly) plastic utensils swap it out for bamboo or wood utensils. They are sturdy and 100% compostable, so whether they get ditched in the recycle or the trash they won’t do any harm!

You can buy this 200(!!!) piece set from Amazon which should last you all summer. While you’re at it, swap out your paper plates with these (FYI: just because it’s paper doesn’t mean it’s recyclable!)!

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#3 -Be a better REcycler

There is a lot more we can recycle than just water bottles, soda cans, and cardboard boxes. Thanks to an outcry for more sustainable business practices many companies have changed their packaging to be 80-100% recyclable. All it takes is less than 5 seconds of your time to check the back or side of a box before throwing it in the trash. I’ve become an adamant box-checker and now our recycle bin fills up twice as fast as our regular trash! To help remind yourself, keep a recycle and trash bin in the home so you are visually reminded to check before you trash. Another tip to streamline the process is to check the recyclability of the product at the store while you’re looking at the ingredients and nutrition label. When its time to throw away you’ll already know what do with it!

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#4 - Stop Buying Polyester

You’re probably thinking one of two things. Why? or How is that easy? First I’ll answer the why. Polyester is the #1 used fabric and it’s also the most harmful. Polyester is essentially a plastic fiber woven into fabrics. Yes you read that right, you are wearing plastic. It’s cheap to produce and can be manipulated easily to create different textures, which is why it’s the fashion industry’s first choice. And it gets worse. Every time you wash polyester little plastic fibers end up in the water system, then into our oceans, fish, and then us when we eat that fish. So even if you’re buying organically-grown, wild caught, sustainable fish they are living in water that is quickly being taken over by plastic, so we have to address the root of the problem. Jess Ann Kirby, my favorite sustainable blogger, wrote an incredible blog post detailing the different fabrics that are damaging our planet and what fabrics we can trade them out for. (Highly recommend reading, it’s fascinating and so helpful!) So now how do we make this easy? It’s as simple as checking the label on your clothes before you buy and educate yourself on brands that are already doing the hard work for you by using fabrics like 100% organic cotton, tencel, lyocell, and silk. (In Jess’ blog post she lists many companies that do this already!) Vote with your dollar the next time you’re in the market for a new pair of jeans or workout gear. The more money we spend on sustainable fashion the higher the demand will be and like I said above, trends help bring about REAL change.

 

If you've made it this far, God bless you and I’ll now get down from my soap box (you’re welcome). I’d love to know what ways you try to limit your plastic consumption or make choices that are better for the environment in general. Knowledge is power, people! So let’s get to sharing!

But, one last thing before I go! I’d love to share this “thank you” after seeing it posted frequently on IG over the last few weeks. To me it really speaks to what I’m trying to get across as a whole. Take whatever sentence or more you want, but focus the most on the end.

“We’re all trying our best.”

“To the person who uses metal straws to safe the fish but consumes animals, I’d like to say thank you. To the vegan who isn’t aware of our homelessness problem, thank you. To the climate change activists who aren’t attentive to fast fashion, thank you. To the girl who gives her old clothes to the disadvantaged but isn’t educated on sex trafficking, thank you. To the guy who picks up rubbish on his way home from a surf but isn’t well-informed about male suicided rates, thank you. To the people who stand up for horse racing concerns but are uninformed of the cruelty of the dairy industry, thank you. To the positive Instagram influencer who hasn’t cultivated a plastic-free lifestyle, thank you. To the grandparents who knit for sick children but aren’t up to date with current race and homophobic issues, thank you. To the students that stand up for bullying but are unaware of the constant domestic violence epidemic, thank you. To the peace activists, feminists, stray dog adopters, teachers, volunteers, foster carers, recyclers, givers, doers and believers, I say thank you. We are all on a different path and we all see through different eyes. Current world issues that you are passionate about, aren’t always what other people are trying to change…and that’s okay. It’s not everyone’s job to save every part of the world but it is everyone’s responsibility to thank every person who is doing THEIR part to save the world. Don’t critic, just appreciate. Don’t judge, just educate. We’re all trying our best. Thank you.”

By Carla Borthwick

Images sourced from Google, Giphy, and Jess Ann Kirby.

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