plastic sucks!

Somehow I am writing a post that does not include a playlist. This may not be the update you so eagerly awaited, but it's a post I've been meaning to compose for well over a year and I took my tripping into a pothole to pick up a plastic bag from the parking lot as a sign that it was time. As I've probably shouted about on many occasions here, I don't make new year's resolutions (yeah, wow it's been six months and who wants that unpleasant reminder) so it may come as a shock for you to learn that I did this year! I still strictly believe in starting anew any day you wish, but this time I gave in and welcomed the well-worn excuse to make some changes with open arms. My resolution was to do better for our planet. I've always cared to recycle and reuse, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I really looked my crazed plastic bag consumption in the eye, which then led to the disturbing discovery of just how much plastic slithered into my life. every. damn. day. Oh and let me preface all that with this: I live in the suburbs––the land of abundant plastic (ab)use where bag taxes don't exist and moms sprint to the self-checkout lanes to triple-bag their groceries like their lives depend on it, the land where a single candy bar is thrown into a bag ten times its size without question because it's irrelevant that you'll eat it immediately after you pay for it, leaving you with an empty and useless bag, the land where cashiers are slightly taken aback when you expose that you, in fact, have your own reusable bags and you don't need their plastic. In this land, we don't think of the consequences our choices at the supermarket come with. So naturally, I didn't either. Until one day when I stopped to think about what I was doing by choosing that plastic bag.

However, I think what thwarts environmentally-conscious efforts isn't exclusively the bag-using party at the grocery store, but the more counterproductive skulking whisper of 'there's damage beyond correction, so what's the point?' or 'why not leave it to people who are more dedicated? I just won't do enough'. I've thought it before. I'm sure you have too. And that's the problem. If you don't take action and I don't take action and Bobby doesn't take action too, is there anyone left to make a change? This is true of nearly every cause worth fighting for. We don't need that bystander effect on this boat.

Delving deeper into the second doubt I deem common ('why not leave it to people who are more dedicated? I just won't do enough') brings us to a social phenomenon mainly constructed through social media––the fear that we'll be called out for not doing enough, for not knowing enough, for not doing it right, for being a hypocrite. But hey, working on being more environmentally conscious takes time. And it's different for everyone. It's okay to do what seems tiny in comparison to what big things others are doing. The important thing is you're doing something. It's okay to not know everything. It's okay to know more now than you did before. We're humans. We change and we grow. Nothing is stagnant.

Even after we've convinced ourselves of the irrelevance of our doubts, the looming fear of a complete lifestyle change acts as a hindrance to our earth-loving actions. And that's just another misconception to be dismantled. Sure, the prospect of going zero-waste scares me too. That takes absolute dedication and it no doubt presents itself as a challenge of existing habits. Let's pause. Is anyone telling you to do that though? No. That's a decision you make for yourself. The argument that you have to abandon your ways completely is just a fallacy and nothing more. Additionally, don't forget that those little things you can do to make a difference can actually inspire you to do more too. It makes the prospect of zero waste a little less scary. Who knows, maybe that's the path you'll take in the future. Maybe I'll take it too. But for now, I strongly encourage baby steps. Like cutting out single-use plastic and doing some reading about the harm it does to our oceans.

Hopefully at this point I've convinced you that you have what it takes to do something nice for our planet. I'll take the liberty of making that assumption, so get ready for the fun part: a list of what you can do (bonus: all of these things are pretty easy)!

1. Use reusable bags. This is the easiest way you can cut down on single-use plastic. And you'll save SO much plastic. Do this: for a week, keep a tally of how many plastic bags you use. Then calculate how much you used per day. It's an ice-cold-bucket-of-water-poured-over-the-head kind of shock . I used more than one bag per day. Just think of how many bags you'll save in an entire year. A couple of my favorite reusable ones: this one, this one, and this one from Baggu (yes they're nylon, but they last forever and you can hold so much in just a standard sized one and they can handle the weight of your groceries and you can tuck them away in the neat pouch they come in and throw them in your handbag), this one from Lisa Says Gah, this one from General Store (who doesn't love a classic market bag?), and this one from my shop (just had to sneak my block printed baby on this list).

2. Sort of the same thing as number one, but still a major problem that we often overlook even with reusable bags. What about the thin plastic bags you put your produce in? Those are terrible. Swap them for a mesh, super lightweight alternative like this one. What's great about these is they weigh less than 1/3 of an ounce (so no worries about adding weight when your produce is weighed) and they're truly see-through (your produce can stay in the bag while it's scanned).

3. Pay attention to packaging. If you can avoid plastic containers or bags of pre-packaged food, you can say goodbye to a lot of single-use plastic. Additionally, plastic is unhealthy. Glass containers, paper, and cardboard are much safer for you and the environment.

4. Ditch the plastic wrap and plastic baggies for tupperware or reusable sandwich bags. Once again, they're healthier than plastic which has chemicals that can leech out when wet or sitting for too long. If you really need your plastic wrap fix, try these wraps instead. Try these sandwich bags or these storage bags (these are sort of an investment, but they pay off quickly when you no longer have to purchase so many Ziploc bags). Finally, glass storage containers are great space savers in the refrigerator and are 100% safe for any food. I like these and these (I prefer buying sets, but they're also available separately if you don't need all of them).

5. Don't be afraid to pick things up from the ground! Don't worry, I'm not telling you to reuse garbage (unless you want to?), but it really helps to simply pick up and throw away or recycle garbage that is laying around on the ground. You not only save our oceans, but also animals from eating those things and getting sick or dying. I do this as much as I can, but there is definitely a clear cut category of what I'm willing to pick up without gloves on. Of course, put your safety first, but do what you can.

6. Buy things in bulk. I know what you're thinking. She lives in the suburbs, so she has space to store things. I don't mean to buy huge packages of everything on your shopping list, but if there's something you really use a lot of just buy the bigger container. Oftentimes more packaging is wasted if you buy three of something, rather than a bigger container with the same amount. This will also save you money! So it's a win-win.

7. Buy only what you need. For me this one leans more towards the fashion industry part of the pollution spectrum, rather than plastic (that's something for another post) but they are correlated.  My overconsumption of clothes that were destined only to hang in my closet pushed me to make more conscious shopping decisions. And that translated to every aspect of shopping, whether that's housewares, furniture, clothing, bags (yes, there can be too much of a good thing; don't buy more reusable bags than you'll use), and even groceries. Create less waste by simply avoiding it.

8.  Buy less bottled water. This one is something I need to work on. I am picky when it comes to water and I like to pamper myself with mineral water because it tastes better (water is not flavorless). Glass bottles are always better, so I'm working on finding a brand of water that I really like that comes in glass. I've yet to find it.

9. When you're buying non-single-use plastic objects, make sure you'll use them for a while. The scary thing about plastic is it lasts forever (well, for a long, long time). However scary, this can also be a good thing in some cases. Like in furniture or houses (yes, there are some projects that utilize recycled plastic to build affordable housing!).

10. Try to buy things made of recycled materials. If you really need to buy something made of plastic or something packaged in plastic, take a moment to learn if it's made of post-consumer recycled materials.

I hope this helped you realize that cutting plastic out of your daily life isn't as frightening as it seems. Every little thing helps. Now, just look out for a catch up post because it's coming. xx

No comments:

Post a Comment