Why Should We Reduce Our Plastic Consumption?
A good half of landfills are simply dumps of plastic that will stay there for years upon years, polluting the environment and posing a significant risk to living beings.
Besides not being biodegradable, more than 50% of plastic is single-use and doesn’t get recycled or reused. The most common examples of single-use plastic items are water bottles, packaging material, straws, and grocery bags.
The truth is that even though most types of plastic are recyclable, it’s a time and energy-intensive process that requires the proper infrastructure to carry out. It also requires a large quantity of water. That’s why most governments do not install plastic recycling facilities, and instead deliver plastic to landfills.
Since recycling plastic is not a viable option in most cases, the best solution is to look for ways to decrease both the production and consumption of plastic.
The production and consumption of plastic produces a huge chunk of the total carbon emissions that contribute to global warming, and uses up a lot of energy and natural resources (like fossil fuels) during the creation process. It’s estimated that if the current production trend continues, by 2050 15% of global carbon emissions and 20% of global oil consumption will be due to plastic.
How to Reduce Our Plastic Consumption
Though the outlook can seem a bit grim, there are things you can start doing now to help consumption significantly.
USE A FABRIC BAG FOR SHOPPING
You can use your own reusable bag from home or buy one from the grocery store and use it to carry your groceries and purchases instead of using plastic bags. This is a small and easily doable thing that can also make a large difference and significantly reduce waste if done consistently.
Plastic used in packaging makes up a big chunk of the total plastic produced. To reduce waste and your use of plastic packaging, buy food items in bulk whenever possible. If you already have a container for a specific item, take it with you to get it refilled instead of buying a new package. Also, when buying produce, skip the packaged fruits and veggies and opt for the fresh and free ones.
When you do have to buy packaged items, look for things with biodegradable packaging material. You can buy bamboo and wood brushes for things like cleaning and doing your makeup. You can also look for clothing made of natural fibers that produce a lower carbon footprint.
MAKE RECYCLING A HABIT
Though you can’t be held responsible for the lack of municipal infrastructure for plastic recycling, you can still do your part. Sort your plastic items carefully and make sure you put them in the right bins to be recycled.
REUSE YOUR PLASTIC
Again, if you already have plastic items at home, or you have had to buy something plastic because there were no other options, reuse that plastic as much as humanly possible!
Changing Your Cleaning Habits
You can also significantly decrease your plastic consumption by changing your cleaning habits with these low waste cleaning hacks. Commercial cleaning products often create a lot of chemical and plastic waste. Try replacing them with organic cleaning products using natural, sustainable ingredients you have in your kitchen pantry. You can also swap your paper towels for cloth rags and replace other single-use cleaning items with bulk alternatives.
Plastic has become so entrenched in modern life that cutting it out not only requires a change in habits, but also a change of mindset and lifestyle. It’s a monumental challenge, but with small, consistent changes, you can succeed.
Taking steps to reduce your plastic consumption is a way to make the conscious decision to adopt a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Not just for you, but for the planet we all call home.