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"It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do so little"
We’ve heard it all before – plastic is a problem and we should use less plastic. But sometimes it feels like it is impossible to reduce what we use, when so much of the products we buy on a regular basis are wrapped in plastic.
The reality is, millions of tons of plastic waste enter the ocean, just from costal community every year. But I don’t live in a costal community, I hear you say! Plastic waste, such as plastic bags, water bottles etc. can be found along all waterways of the world including rivers and lakes. But the real issue is microdebris – pieces of plastic less than 5mm in size that are consumed by marine life, and eventually ends up in our food chain. Gross right?
So what can we do about it? It feels like it is such a huge issue, that nothing we do can make a difference? If we all make a small change to the way we use plastic, you will be amazed at the difference we can make. The goal is to reduce the waste we produce, reuse items when we can, and recycle what is left. Now we are just a family of two, but rarely have one bag of garbage in 2 weeks, and only fill one of the blue bins. And I want to reduce that amount of waste.
Here are some easy ways to reduce plastic use on a regular basis:
- Use reusable bags – we all have a bag full of bags sitting at the front door that we always forget to take to the store right? That was us for the longest time. But now we leave a few bags always in the car. Plus we have some folding bags that fit easily in the glove box. Of course, you have to remember to take them in the store with you as well! But if you do it a few times, it will become second nature! And now you don’t have to figure out what to do with all the plastic bags that are taking up space in a cupboard in the kitchen!
- Use a reusable coffee mug. Billions of disposable coffee cups are thrown away every year. They aren’t recyclable because of the thin plastic layer on the inside that stops the coffee from leaking out. I have been using a reusable coffee mug since my university days. I love my BottleWorx bottles – these are made with kitchen grade stainless steel, stay cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours! They are available at Good Vibes on Main and come in 4 different sizes! The best part - most coffee shops offer a discount when you bring your own mug. It’s a win win!
- Use a reusable water bottle. Bottled water is the biggest scam out there. We pay up to $2 for a bottle of tap water that cost less than a penny to produce. We don’t go anywhere without our own water bottle. We use the Bottleworx bottles, not just for water, but fruit infused water, tea, and even beer!
- Replace plastic wrap and Ziploc bags with reusable. Plastic wrap and Ziploc bags are just so darn convenient - but not so much for the environment. There are numerous food wrap options out there – we use Abeego. a beeswax wrap that acts like a living, breathing skin to keep food fresher that with plastic wrap. There are also lots of food bag options available as well than can be used in place of Ziploc bags. They are food safe, and easily washed.
- Reuse glass jars – we all buy pasta sauce, jams etc. that come in glass jars. Instead of throwing them out, wash them up and use them as food storage containers. They are reusable, can go in the freezer, and you can actually see what is in the jar – no guessing what that mystery food is in a plastic container! They can also be use for other storage needs around the house – a change jar, paper clips, a pen holder, the options are endless!
- Never use plastic cutlery again! I hate using plastic cutlery – it’s pretty useless for cutting food with, and I can’t count how many times I have cut my lip on them. I have neat little set of bamboo cutlery that also includes a straw, and a straw cleaner! I don’t always remember to bring it with me – but when I do it’s a good day!
I know, this seems all so overwhelming, where do you start? Pick one of the ideas that you know you can manage and follow through on. Maybe choose something the whole family can do. You will be amazed how easy it is to make a switch that you’ll be wondering why it took you so long to get started!
What are some of your favourite ways to reduce plastic and garbage? Share in the comments below.