Reducing plastic waste is important and relatively simple. Small changes in mindset and habits can truly make a significant impact. Plastics have proven to be very useful and easy, but have caused many problems with more to come, most of which stem from their lack of decomposition beyond a level of microplastics and the time it takes for them to even get there. Luckily, these few tips should help you reduce your plastic impact significantly.
Firstly, try avoiding single-use plastics when possible. This counts at coffee shops, stores, etc. Bringing a reusable bag can truly make a big difference in the long run, especially if you pick a durable bag that can even be washed. A thing to consider is that many coffee shops will allow you to bring your own mug/cup, which means that they do not have to put your drink in a plastic cup. If purchasing single-use items such as cups or utensil, consider compostable or paper versions. In short, most single-use plastics have non-plastic alternatives that are relatively simple to use instead. Look for these alternatives and pick them.
Secondly, when making a purchasing decision for example, there are often many glass or metal alternatives that are much more sustainable. Aluminum is a preferred option here as it is infinitely recyclable. The best example for this is sodas, consider purchasing them in cans rather than plastic bottles. This counts for other things such as sauces or milk, etc. as well.
Next, consider if packaging is even necessary. When purchasing things such as produce, the loose items can often be better, and they give you the freedom to choose your own packing. In this case, try avoiding the plastic bags nearby and bring your own washable net that you can put it in. Also, when purchasing things like bananas, they often do not need packaging as they have their own natural protection.
Lastly, reuse is strongly encouraged. This can come in many different forms, ranging from a reusable bottle to reusing some of the byproducts of your purchasing, such as a jar. This also includes considering refills or homemade versions, especially for things like cleaning products. Purchasing a spray bottle (I have a glass bottle) and then purchasing things such as concentrates to dilute in water or refills instead can drastically reduce your plastic waste and it is one of the easiest ways to do it.
In conclusion, the most important part of reducing your plastic waste is a small change in mindset. Avoiding plastic options and becoming more aware of the alternatives is the most difficult part, and a slow start can get you there a lot faster than you think. Just remember, choose the better alternative and reuse!
Written by Zein Tynon, Class of 2024.
Corporativa, Iberdrola. “Reduce Your Plastic Consumption and Lessen Its Impact on the Environment.” Iberdrola. Accessed November 2, 2021. https://www.iberdrola.com/environment/how-to-reduce-plastic-use.
Lara, Rebekah. “21 Simple Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste.” Simply Living Green with Rebekah. Simply Living Green with Rebekah, July 8, 2020. https://simplygreenrebekah.com/21-simple-ways-to-reduce-plastic-waste/.