How To Live A Plastic Free Lifestyle
By Michaela Garretson
You’ve seen pictures of sea turtles and fish stuck in plastic soda can rings or animals wading through heaps of plastic on the shoreline. Plastic consumption around the world only seems to be growing, especially with ‘single-use’ plastic containers, like the take away boxes you get at restaurants, or the containers you buy pre-sliced lunch meat in.
In spite of tremendous plastic production, are there really any ways to decrease the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills (or in the ocean) in places around the world? Thankfully yes! But first, here’s a few statistics on plastic consumption.
- A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021.
- More than 480bn plastic drinking bottles were sold in 2016 across the world, up from about 300bn a decade ago. If placed end to end, they would extend more than halfway to the sun.
- Between 5m and 13m tonnes of plastic leaks into the world’s oceans each year to be ingested by sea birds, fish and other organisms, and by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish, according to research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Many countries do not have proper garbage collecting services, so garbage is dumped on the side of the road or in illegal sites. Often, trash ends up in rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Sea turtles may confuse plastic bags for jellyfish. Or birds may become stuck in the plastic rings that hold soda cans together. This heartbreaking video shows a female sea turtle nesting in a plastic covered beach on Christmas Island.
When fish or shellfish mistake plastic as food, it can lead to death. Or, if caught, those same fish may end up on our dinner plates, causing us to ingest tiny pieces of plastic.
The impact our plastic use has on our oceans and the future of our planet is exposed in the recent BBC programme Blue Planet II. David Attenborough urges us to stop use of single use plastics before it is too late. We really recommend watching it!
Chances are, the city you live in could do a better job with eliminating plastic production and usage. However, even if there are not any laws banning items like plastic bags or water bottles, there are still many ways you can diminish your personal plastic consumption.
Alternatives to plastic:
- Plastic Straws– Use paper or metal straws in place of plastic straws
- Plastic filmed non-recyclable coffee cups – Ask for your coffee/tea in a mug when visiting coffee shops, or bring your own mug for takeaway drinks
- Single use bags – bring your own reusable bags for any shopping trips, not just the grocery store. Same goes for packing your lunch – buy a lunch box or bring your reusable bag instead of plastic bags
- Tupperware plastic containers – Buy glass containers for storing any leftovers or food items that you don’t want to spoil
- Plastic Utensils – Bring your own utensils to a fast food restaurant, or if getting take out, decline any plastic utensils
- Plastic water bottles – Buy a cute water bottle to carry throughout the day (which is also a great reminder to constantly keep yourself hydrated!). Some reusable water bottles even have mini water purifiers attached to it, good for all you traveling mermaids out there! We love this bottle from T2, not only is it a super cute reusable bottle, it has a tea strainer inside incase you wanted a hot cuppa!
- Shampoo/Conditioner bottles – Ever heard of bar shampoo/conditioner? It’s real! And the best part is, it doesn’t require a plastic container. Lush do some amazing shampoo bars which smell divine and leave your hair feeling so soft!
- Plastic Ziplock Bags- Use glass, metal or wooden containers to carry items such as nuts and meals, to school, work etc.!
- Personal Care Products – Did you know that plastic microbeads can be found in beauty products and toothpaste. The UK recently banned use of these from cosmetic and personal care products. Check the ingredient list before purchasing. Avoiding products with plastics will not only help the earth, but your personal health.
- Food items – Buy items in bulk, such as nuts and grains, instead of purchasing individual packages. Bring your own bag or container (many stores will weigh the container to offset the container’s weight if you’re worried about your container being heavy).
- Wet Bikinis – We love our beach days, but we can make them even more eco-friendly by bringing a reusable bag to put our bikinis in, instead of using a plastic bag.
- Soap – Use bar soap instead of liquid soap that comes in plastic containers. Lush has made this super cute ‘fake plastic bottle’ out of soap, we are in love! Smells insane too!
You can find alternatives to plastic in every area of your life. Do some research on google for local shops that have adopted ‘No plastic’ policies or find videos/blog posts on how to adopt a no plastic lifestyle.
Looking for even more ways to be plastic free? Check out this article on ‘100 Steps to a Plastic-Free Life.’
Cool Companies Avoiding Plastic Products
Bali-based company, Avani, has created biodegradable bags out of yucca plants. Since it’s 100% plant-based, it’s safe if animals or insects ate the bag. Sound too good to be true? Watch this video on the innovative bag.
One woman in New York City opened the store, Package Free, as an effort to help consumers move away from plastic products, adopt a zero-waste lifestyle, and feel excited about doing it.
Every step counts, so don’t feel pressure if you’re not sure where to begin decreasing your plastic use. Try switching one of your habits the first week (like using a reusable water bottle instead of disposable plastic bottles) and go from there!
Did you know that we stopped using our plastic zipper bikini bags in March 2017? We now package your beautiful Zennors in Hand stamped recyclable boxes and tissue paper. And in January of 2018, we started using biodegradable mailing bags. We’re constantly looking at ways to make Zennor more environmentally friendly and love hearing your suggestions.
What ways are you eliminating plastic in your life?
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Michaela is an aspiring journalist and word traveller from Florida. She loves to be outdoors, trying new things, taking pictures, and is filled with wanderlust and an appetite for adventure.Michaela Garretson