Waste is all around us: it is underneath us, it is piling up in our kitchen trash cans, being burned in landfills, polluting soils and killing marine life. No matter how much we try to get rid of it, cover it up, or ship it away to another country, this environmental problem is too huge to be ignored. And it is directly impacting the world’s biodiversity. It is estimated that plastic kills about one million sea birds and 100.000 marine animals every year.
Why recycling is always not the answer
The reality of recycling is far more complicated than it’s thought to be. Many plastics are not recyclable and they eventually make their way to local landfills. Preventing plastic waste is a much more sustainable solution. This may sound nearly impossible in the modern world. However, some lifestyle and consuming changes could go a long way.
Nine tips to reduce your plastic waste
- Switch from disposable bags to your own reusable bag.
- Bring your own containers and cutlery instead of getting disposable ones if you are planning to eat out.
- Get your own water bottle. Materials such as stainless steel are better for your health and the environment and can last you literally a lifetime if it’s well taken care of.
- Reduce your consumption of seafood. Fishing nets are one of the highest wastes found in the oceans. By decreasing your consumption, you decrease demand for seafood and indirectly support the reduction of plastic waste in the ocean.
- Avoid microbeads. These are tiny pieces of plastic that are added to a range of products including cosmetics, personal care and cleaning products. Go for products with natural exfoliants.
- Cook more! Not only is it cheaper and healthier, but you avoid taking out containers and doggy bags.
- Purchase items secondhand. Toys, electronic gadgets and even kitchen utensils: you can avoid lots of plastic packaging and unnecessary production from things you can get from thrift stores, community garage sales, or from friends and family that are getting rid of things.
- Buy in bulk. Larger containers save up more plastic than single-serving or smaller portions of foods.
- Put pressure on manufactures. Corporations have a huge footprint, but ultimately, they are driven by demand. If you believe a company should be smarter in their production, communicate it to them or buy the most environmental alternative.
How to reduce our waste without getting overwhelmed
Reduce, re-use and recycle: these three R’s can help you with considering ways in which we can significantly reduce our waste production.
Reduce: This action can take many forms. From reducing how much food you buy in the supermarket to limiting the amount of clothes you clutter in your wardrobe.
Re-use: Aim at purchasing high quality, long-lasting, non-polluting items. Of course, every item out there requires energy and resources to make. But buying durable products will go a long way. For instance, purchasing items made of stainless steel may be more expensive, but returns of it will reflect on their durability, strength and health.
Recycle: As already described before, we tend to think of recycling as an easy and sustainable way of dealing with purchasing, but actually, there are many other steps we can take before this one when it comes to reducing our waste. If you get to the point where you need to recycle, make sure you do it the way your municipality asks you to.