Curing addictions isn’t easy, especially when the substance used excessively is plastic. OK, it may be an addiction out of convenience, laziness, or habit but it’s still a problem. It’s not that plastic is a terrible material across the board, but as with anything not used in moderation, the results can be complicated.
In the case of plastic the world has an environmental catastrophe on its hands. Plastic has an incredibly long life with hundreds (maybe thousands) of years passing before it degrades completely. It often makes its way to the ocean, where it can float for decades while releasing toxins–or perhaps be scooped up by animals thinking it is food, which eventually all end up in our food chain.
Though the damage seems overwhelming the reality is society isn’t going to just stop utilizing plastic. As a result, the next best thing is to tweak our daily interaction with the substance and in doing so impact the big picture positively. Regarding several popular plastic items here are some suggestions for curbing usage:
1. Disposable plastic tableware: Every day millions of new non-biodegradable plastic utensils are used for eating and then trashed. Instead, consider washing and reusing them just like you would for real dishes and cutlery. An even better option is bring metal cutlery with you wherever you go. And if you’re wondering how not using a plastic fork is going to make a difference consider billions are used each year and it takes up to 100 years for each one to decompose -and not before releasing toxins into the earth.
2. Plastic cups: Have a mug or two set aside at home or at work that you always use.
3. Plastic food/sandwich bags: Stop buying them altogether and reuse durable plastic food containers for lunch.
4. Plastic shopping bags: Although they are a good alternative to paper bags there’s more than enough floating around for the general population. You can reuse them but eventually they will rip. A good substitute would be a wheeled cart or backpack to carry home purchases. Better yet are the increasingly popular re-usable shopping bags made of rayon or other sturdy materials.
5. Plastic food containers: They end up in your possession when you buy takeout or certain groceries. Save and reuse for lunches, freezer storage, or leftovers.
6. Plastic water bottles: Choose a reusable and durable bottle and drink tap water, which in many cases is just as good if not better than bottled water. If tap water is still an issue, use a filter.
7. Plastic garbage bags: This is probably one of the hardest items to stop using because what alternatives are there for certain kinds of refuse? You can’t just throw trash in a barrel without a liner. That’s why when it comes to plastic garbage bags focus on recycling and composting. Doing so will create less regular trash, thus lessening the need for bags. Another bit of advice: fill bags up well and compact trash.
8. Plastic from laundry/dry cleaning services: Cleaners wrap clothing in plastic. Leave a light-weight bag with them for regular laundry or a reusable traveling suit-bag for nicer articles on hangars.
9. Re-use! Finally, if you are going to use plastic the best way to make a difference is to re-use whatever you can. Many plastic items can have other uses, from art projects to makeshift musical instruments.
The bottom line: little steps will make a big difference. Go ahead and start changing the world today!
Today’s guest post is courtesy of Jakob Barry, who writes for Networx.com. He covers various home improvement topics, including green lighting ideas, reducing household allergens, and home safety awareness.