Made from non-renewable resources such as natural gas and petroleum, most plastics are processed using unsustainable techniques that slowly but surely destroy the environment. Many experts deem the production of conventional plastics a growing disaster, calling for raising awareness and sourcing eco-friendly alternatives.
It’s not only about the production process of plastics itself – although it does cause irreparable damage to our planet by polluting air, land and water, as well as directly harms the workers involved in all stages of the process.
Once produced, plastic remains a hazard, as it’s a number one source of landfill and waste which doesn’t disintegrate naturally. Instead, plastic waste such as plastic bags is regularly consumed by numerous species of marine and land animals, many of which are already vulnerable.
Plastic pollution is not always visible – however, research shows that microscopic particles of plastic can be found in the air we breathe in, not to mention soil and all major oceans. In other words, plastic is virtually everywhere.
Does it mean that the damage is done? Absolutely.
But does it also mean that there is nothing we can do? No!
Plastic free living
In the plastic-ridden world we live in, it’s time to start making more conscious choices every day and aim for plastic-free life to help cleanse and preserve the environment.
Understandably, you may not be able to eliminate all plastics from your daily life at once. It doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t start today, one step at a time! Here are our top tips to help you gradually transition to plastic free living at your own pace:
- Bring your own reusable bags – and refuse plastic bags wherever you go! Do you really need a new plastic bag every time you pick up a packet of snacks or a loaf of bread from a supermarket? Plastic bags are often used for under an hour before being discarded, only to be replaced by more plastic bags very shortly.
Bags that look and feel like plastic but are made from 100% made from renewable bio-based, not oil. www.avanieco.com
There are so many cute and compact reusable bags available these days – it’s very easy to put a couple in your car or throw one in your purse for unexpected shopping trips! There are even special reusable mesh bags for fresh produce. All these options are extremely affordable, so there is no reason not to make a switch.
- Avoid purchasing bottled water – instead, purchase a reusable bottle and take it wherever you go, refilling when needed. Considering that commercially available bottled water is often nothing more than filtered tap water, this is not that much of a sacrifice, as well as a huge money saver.
Just make sure your reusable bottle is made of sustainable materials, such as stainless steel, glass or recycled eco-friendly plastic.
- Speaking of hydrating and nourishing your body, consider going plastic-free when storing food and packing lunches. Using plastic containers to store and reheat food is not only potentially harmful to the environment – it’s also a potential health hazard, as exposing these containers to extreme temperatures (e.g. freezing or microwaving) causes the chemicals to break down faster, potentially leaking into the food stored inside.
Some plastic-free alternatives for food storage and transportation include stainless steel, glass, recycled materials, layered tiffins and even good old mason jars. Just experiment to find out what works for you!
- While we’re talking about food, it’s worth mentioning that plastic disposable cutlery and straws are among the worst culprits when it comes to pollution. The worst thing is that single-use utensils are usually discarded within minutes – and can’t even be reused, making them worse than plastic bags.
Fortunately, this is easy to avoid by carrying your own cutlery with you! Stainless steel cutlery, bamboo utensils or fashionable “sporks” – the choice is yours.
- Avoid purchasing excessively packaged products. This is a tricky one, as almost anything comes wrapped in plastic these days, from personal care products to fresh produce.
There are several ways to reduce the amount of plastics you buy as part of the packaging, from buying in bulk to bringing your own containers. Alternatively, you may wish to search for stores in your area that only use sustainable packaging. This step is perhaps one of the most challenging of all, but once you’ve done your research and committed to certain retailers and brands you trust, it gets easier, we promise.
Plastic in fashion
Fashion doesn’t really come to mind when it comes to plastic-ridden industries – and yet, sadly, these days clothes manufacturers are poster children for plastic overuse.
And we’re not talking about plastic bags you receive at the counter – clothes themselves are often made of nasty plastics! For instance, polyester and polar fleece, which are among the most popular materials for both affordable and high fashion clothing, are made from synthetic fibres such as polyethylene terephthalate…which is, quite clearly, a form of plastic.
Other offenders to watch out for include acrylic fabrics, rayon, nylon and many other materials. As a rule of a thumb, any clothes with too many “supernatural” properties such as static resistant, stain resistant, permanent press, wrinkle-free or stain proof are likely to contain plastics in one form or another.
Fortunately, there are some great alternatives to such materials. For example, bamboo fabric is made by breaking the “woody” bamboo pulp with non-toxic materials with no harmful environmental effects. Bamboo clothes are naturally antibacterial, odour-resistant, soft, gentle and beautiful, making them a great sustainable fashion choice.
Alternatives to plastic do exist – and it’s up to you to make a positive change and take a step towards plastic free living today. Together, we can prevent further plastic pollution and reverse the damage done to our planet.
Follow the tips above, do your own research and find plastic alternatives that work for you and remember you’re not alone on this rewarding journey – and the world will soon become an even better place.