Because if we don’t kill plastic, it will kill us.

plastic

We are our worst enemy. We take it for granted that our plastic trash magically disappears after the garbage truck picks them up. But no, Mother Earth cannot digest plastic. Every single bit of plastic that has been made since Day 1 is still on our planet, be it in landfills, in the oceans or in whales’ stomachs. They are still around. Simply because we invented plastic to be a material that is durable and long-lasting. No doubt, they can be broken down into really, really small pieces but they are never ever going to biodegrade and disappear, at least not in our future great-grandchildren’s lifetime.

We can no longer afford the price of convenience
According to the  Arizona State University, toxic chemicals that leached out of plastics can be found in everyone of us. Apart from the commonly known Bisphenol-A (BPA), plastic also contains Phthalates (additives essential in the making of plastics). And these toxic plastic chemicals are present in our blood and urine in measurable amounts, mostly ingested with the food we eat or the water we drink.

Image source: http://visual.ly/through-gyre

The largest landfill in the world is in fact not located on land but in the North Pacific Gyre, the Pacific Ocean.
In our ocean alone, plastics are already outweighing marine life by a ratio of 6-to-1. Ultimately, what we allow to enter the ocean, we allow to enter our bodies. We then continue to consume poisoned fishes and toxic water, involuntarily taking in these plastic chemicals.

In Mahatma Gandhi’s words ” The future depends on what we do in the present”. Our generation is already doomed to live with plastics we have created yesterday. Thus, the greatest gift we can bequeath our future generations is to stop contributing to this plastic world now.

1. Straws

We don’t use straws to drink at home, why do we have to use them when we are out? Plastic straws often break down into tiny pieces and get easily ingested by sea creatures, endangering marine life.

Alternative: Simply reject one, sip your drink from the cup. But if you really have to use one, get eco-friendly straws made of glass, stainless steel or bamboo.

2. Bottled water

U.S. landfills are overflowing with 2 million tons of discarded water bottles alone. Not only are the aftereffects of a discarded plastic bottle harmful to our planet, even the making of each bottle thrashes our environment. The production of water bottles uses 17 million barrels of oil (fossil fuel) a year, and it takes three times the amount of water to make the bottle as it does to fill it. That just doesn’t make sense!

Alternative: Bring a reusable bottle wherever you go and refill it at public water fountains, cafes, restaurants or basically any tap. If you do not have potable tap water in your country, get a reusable bottle with water filter.

3. Coffee cups

We always assumed that paper cups are the environmental-friendly solution to its styrofoam counterpart but truth is, it isn’t. Paper cups have to be lined with a layer of thin plastic so as to prevent the water from seeping through the paper.

Alternative: Use your bottle, or a thermal flask.

*You can always decide on either points 2 or 3 if you find it too troublesome to bring both tumblers out at the same time.

4. Food containers

Like coffee cups, even paper containers have to be lined with a layer of thin lining to prevent the paper from tearing. Single-use plastic and styrofoam containers are also made with plastics which are not BPA free and not biodegradable.

Alternative: Bring your own container when you are out on a takeaway run. And, instead of covering your food with cling wrap, just use a plate or an airtight glass container.

5. Cutleries

Plastic utensils are typically made out of two types of plastics: polypropylene and polystyrene. Both cannot be recycled. They will just get thrown into the landfills and remain, long after their usefulness exhaust.

Alternative: Bring your own cutleries. A spork, a splade, chopsticks, basically anything that works for you.

6. Shopping bags

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), between 500 billion to a trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year. Just imagine all these plastic bags flooding our landfills or swimming in our oceans. Plastic bags have become so convenient and insignificant that we tend to not even think about its consequences. But they are one of the most commonly found plastic items everywhere!

Alternative: Reusable eco-friendly bags. For a more-informed decision, check out the review done by Treehugger.

7. Toothbrushes

A typical toothbrush is made with nylon bristles, a metal staple to hold the bristles and a plastic handle. All of which cannot be biodegraded.

Alternative: There isn’t any toothbrush out in the market that is fully compostable yet but the best out there is the Bamboo toothbrush. Brushes from Brush With Bamboo are fully plant-based, except for their 38%-plastic bristles. (P.s They come in eco-friendly packaging too!)

8. Wet wipes

Wet wipes do not disintegrate like normal paper tissue because of the plastic fibers that help them withstand constant soaking. Like any other plastics, they are not biodegradable. Since they do not disintegrate, don’t ever flush them down the toilet, they will only choke the pipes and end up in the ocean. And more often than not, wet wipes always come in plastic packaging. Just ditch them already.

Alternative: You can try to make your own wet wipes. Or just use cloth and water.

9. Cleansers with microbeads

Microbeads are basically micro plastics. They are designed so small that they get easily washed down the sink and end up in the ocean. The marine life don’t even need to mistake them for food because they are simply too small to be seen so they get ingested by the fishes effortlessly and unknowingly.

Alternative: There’s definitely a sans-microbeads version for everything. Choose that.

10. Hotel toiletries

Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, shower cap, cotton buds, comb and a toothbrush set. These are the basic items provided by most hotels all around the world. However, all these pampering and ease of comfort come with a price. All of the half-used bottles, single-use combs and toothbrushes get thrown right into the bin after we check out. Imagine how much plastic waste that is!

Alternative: Simply bring your own toiletries.

 

We don’t have to do great things all the time, we just need to do small things in great ways. And these 10 small and easy ways, definitely within our means, can help save our planet because what we save, saves us. Since we were the ones who started this trashy love story, it’s only us who can end it.