I was so frustrated when I found out about the Pacific Garbage Patch. What is it? It's the largest landfill in the world, and it floats in the middle of the ocean.
When I learned about it, I scoured the internet for solutions. There are a few solutions that involve large scale clean ups, but the depressing truth is that it exists and we are complicit in its existence.
Being proactive is one solution. Reducing our plastic use and consumption is incredibly important. I tried to find a large list of ideas, but could only find scattered ideas, so this is one of my ways to pose a solution. A long, long list of ideas to change your life for the better of the ocean, the land, the environment and the earth we love so dear.
Plastic is plentiful. Plastic is used for everything from shampoo containers to beverage and food containers to baby toys and the casing for many, many household items.
The immediate harms of plastic are few. The long term damages of small toxins in plastics are being researched. Plastics are created with the help of chemicals, and some are dangerous to us. Two in particular stand out: bisphenol A (or BPA, used in polycarbonates and resins) and phthalates (used to make plastic soft and pliable). Both chemicals upset the way some hormones function in our bodies. They are both now the subject of fierce scientific and public scrutiny. Many scientists have discovered a connection between plastic and human development. So much so that the European Union has banned phthalates in children's toys.
The effect of plastic on the enviornment is much easier to see. The trash island in the middle of the pacific ocean, named the pacific garbage patch, is an alarming result of our use of plastic. It is everywhere and it is slowly collecting in the middle of the ocean. Plastic cannot biodegrade.
We can help. We can limit our use of plastic and urge our legislators to ban plastic in children's toys and food and beverage containers. We can urge plastic manufacturers to develop biodegradable plastic.
51 Ways to reduce plastic use or completely eliminate it!
What you've been waiting for, a long long list of ways you can reduce your plastic use. You probably know some already, but I hope that many of these ideas are new and do-able. Just think of the pacific garbage patch whenever you feel tempted to buy water, get a to-go cup or buy liquid laundry detergent.
Note: Many of these suggestions are to reduce your waste, which will in turn reduce your use of plastic trash bags.
Here we go:
1. Bring your own cloth bags to the grocery store (or any store!).
2. Don't buy beverages bottles in plastic. Glass is great.
3. Carry your own reusable steel or ceramic beverage container. If they're too pricey, use a glass mason jar! Heavy, but cheap.
4. Don't get to-go coffee or hot drinks. Your drink lid and cup will live on for over 100 years! The lids and lining are plastic. Bring your own or ask for a ceramic, reusable cup.
5. Go to the farmer's market and purchase fresh fruits and veggies (not packaged in plastic).
6. Don't buy convenience foods packages in plastic.
7. Make your own bread.
8. Buy bread from bakeries that package in paper.
9. Clean with baking soda and vinegar instead of cleaners packaged in plastic.
10. Buy laundry detergent in boxes, not liquid in plastic containers.
11. Buy farm fresh eggs in reusable paper containers.
12. Get your cheese from the deli and place it in your own container (glass or a plastic one that you already have, don't waste what you already have!) or get it wrapped in paper.
13. Buy your meat from the deli and have it wrapped in paper.
14. Package your leftovers in corningware.
15. Bring your own containers to restaurants to package leftovers.
16. Use bar soap to wash your dishes. Dr. Bronner's is perfect.
17. Stop using deodorant or antiperspirant. It's not natural to prevent yourself from sweating. Use perfume in a glass bottle if you want a nice smell.
18. Do not use air fresheners. Light a candle or incense instead.
19. Store all your food in glass containers. If you purchase something bottled in glass, clean it and reuse it!
20. Buy bulk cereal, bring your own paper bags.
21. Buy tortilla chips packaged in paper bags.
22. Buy bulk coffee packaged in paper or in cans, or bring your own bags.
23. Buy milk in paper cartons.
24. Buy peanut butter that is packaged in glass containers.
25. Buy bar soap, not liquid body wash.
26. Compost your trash, reduce your use of plastic trash bags.
27. Line small trash bins in your house with paper bags.
28. When ordering drinks, say "no straw please!"
29. Buy real maple syrup (comes in glass bottles) we get ours at Trader Joes.
30. Buy toilet paper that is wrapped in paper, not plastic.
31. Don't use ziploc. If you need to keep things like half an onion (happens to us all the time!) use aluminum or waxy paper.
32. Use cloth rags for clean up around the house, no paper towels - reduces your trash and need for trash bags.
33. Use matches instead of plastic encased lighters. They usually give them to you for free at the liquor store.
34. Use cloth napkins. They feel nice and reduce your waste and use of plastic trash bags.
35. If you want a fun drink, buy chocolate milk in a carton or apple juice in glass bottle. You can also ferment your own drinks in glass mason jars.
36. Bring your own bag to all stores you shop in and say "no bag needed, thanks!"
37. Put empty cardboard boxes in your car to transport heavy items to and from your car without a bag.
38. Say "paper not plastic" at the grocery store.
39. Don't use plastic cutting boards. Use wood or glass.
40. Use baby bottles made of glass.
41. Use stainless steel sippy cups for kids.
42. Use cloth based toys for your pets, like catnip mice and soft squishy balls.
43. Buy cloth diapers. Many great varieties available and better for your baby. We fill a super bowl size hole every day with disposal diapers that will leach toxins into the environment for centuries to come.
44. Buy CDs packaged in cardboard sleeves or buy your music online.
45. Use junk mail and other paper to stuff into big packages to ship instead of bubble wrap or air filled plastic.
46. Use real silverware for parties instead of plastic.
47. Use rechargeable batteries to reduce buying batteries packaged in plastic.
48. Make a compost heap to reduce your food waste and put it back into the earth.
49. Use a reusable cloth bag or old fashioned steel lunch box to carry your lunch to work or school.
50. Make your own yogurt in glass mason jars. It's easy!
51. Spread the word! Tell people about the harmful chemicals in plastic, the pacific garbage patch and help reduce plastic use by example!
We have to save ourselves and the planet!
(2011). 51 Ways to Reduce Plastic Use . Retrieved from http://www.bluecommunity.info/view/article/171867