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Plastic-free Living

Earth Day, April 20–22, is the perfect time to focus on the extreme environmental issues facing our planet today.

From EarthDay.org we know the following (1):

~ About 8 million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean annually. Of those, 236,000 tons are microplastics – tiny pieces of broken-down plastic smaller than your little fingernail.

~ There are five massive patches of plastic in the oceans around the world. These huge concentrations of plastic debris cover large swaths of the ocean; the one between California and Hawaii is the size of the state of Texas.

~Every minute, one garbage truck of plastic is dumped into our oceans. The amount of plastic in the ocean is set to increase tenfold by 2020. By 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish.

Hopefully, there is a way out. But it will take a lot of awareness and action from people as well as governments around the world, to help prevent further deterioration of our beautiful oceans and waterways.

My own personal journey towards creating a plastic-free, zero-waste home started some years ago, and I found it to be an extremely satisfying and somewhat easier task than I first imagined. 

About 8 million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean annually.

The Buck Stops Here

Richer countries tend to waste more plastic than poorer ones. Germans and Americans throw away more than 10 times as much plastic a day as Kenyans and Indians. Europe, North America, Japan and Australia have shipped so much to Southeast Asia for recycling that, overwhelmed by waste, Malaysia and Vietnam decided this year to ban plastic waste imports. China had already done so in 2018. (2)

With this in mind, we can all contribute to stopping this disastrous overload of plastics on our environment. Here's how we can start: (3)

1. Stop the Use of Single-Use Plastics

2. Recycle Properly

3. Participate In or Organize a Beach or River Cleanup

4. Support Bans

5. Avoid Products Containing Microbeads

6. Spread the Word

7. Support Organizations Addressing Plastic Pollution

 

 

Richer countries tend to waste more plastic than poorer ones.

6 Quick Ways to Reduce Ocean Plastic.

 

1. Boycott all single-use plastics.

2. Choose recyclable materials.

3. Say No to disposable bottles, straws and bags.

4. Buy less packaged foods.

5. Request plastic-free packaging.

6. Switch to glass and bamboo products.

First Step: Boycott single-use plastics.

Creating a Plastic Free Environment

Becoming a completely plastic-free or zero-waste home can be difficult and certainly not without its challenges, but given time and and increased awareness for all members of your family, it can be a very rewarding experience.

The important thing is to just make a start. Every little bit helps. 

1. Start with swaps. By doing a little research, we can often find effective yet inexpensive ways to eliminate wasteful or harmful products. Simple swaps can start with: cotton shopping bags, reusable bottles and jars, and safety razors instead of plastic disposable ones. 

2. Switch to products, cleaning items, and storage containers made from glass or natural fibres, such as bamboo or coconut fibre.

3. Reduce, recycle or re-use as much as possible.

4. Stop the use of all single-use plastics immediately. Substitute with glass bottles, paper straws and bamboo cutlery for outdoor dining. 

By doing a little research, we can often find effective yet inexpensive ways to eliminate wasteful or harmful products.

Room by Room

Start by going room by room to see what swaps you can make. But remember, start small, don't overwhelm yourself, and if you fail, that's ok - just try again.

Here are some starter tips:

1. Kitchen. Buy as much fresh food without packaging as possible. Replace cleaning products with natural fiber alternatives. Use kitchen rags and cloths to replace paper towels.

2. Laundry & Cleaning. Replace cleaning products with natural fiber alternatives. Buy cleaning agents in bulk using your own glass bottles and jars.

3. Plastic Free Shopping. Use cloth shopping bags, reusable food containers, net or mesh bags, beeswax wrapping and shop at markets or bulk food stores.

4. Beauty & Makeup. Replace plastic items, such as toothbrushes, for items made from bamboo or coconut fiber. Look for plastic free beauty and bathroom products, with reusable containers.

5. Casual Dining. Replace plastic straws, bottles, and cutlery with glass, paper, and bamboo alternatives.

Zero Waste Cleaning

The Plastic Free Kitchen

Plastic Free Shopping

Boycott Single Use Plastics

Zero Waste Plastic Free Beauty

Look for plastic-free packaging replacements.

How to Shop Plastic-free

1. Find stores that specialise in zero waste and plastic free products and shopping experiences.

One of my favourite online Australian stores is Shop Naturally. There are many in other countries too, so a little googling goes a long way.

2. Shop at Farmers Markets and Food Marketplaces.

3. Bring your own cotton reusable bags, bottles and containers.

4. Look for plastic-free packaging replacements. 

5. Shop at bulk food stores. 

6. Best packaging alternatives include: glass, paper, bamboo, stainless steel. 

7. What to bring with you: cloth shopping bags, reusable food containers, net or mesh bags, beeswax wrapping.

 

Living plastic-free may not be easy, but always remember your contribution to the environment is invaluable.

Living plastic-free may not be easy, but the fish will thank you for it!

What Plastics Can Be Recycled

There is growing controversy over what plastics can and cannot be recycled. 

There are seven plastic codes printed on plastic product labels. These plastics have a “chasing arrow” recycling symbol with an RIC identification code number on the inside. But just because the plastic has this recycling symbol does not necessarily mean it is recyclable. 

First you need to find out in your city or State, what plastic recycling facilities are available and what can actually be done. 

In most cases, plastics with RIC numbers 1 and 2 can be recycled. These refer to bottles and certain hard plastic packaging. However the remaining numbers 3 through to 7 are often doubtful. 

Clear plastic wrapping, bubble wrap, shrink wrap and plastic bags, otherwise called Soft Plastics, can be recycled and made into other products. However, do not place these in your recycle bin. Please check to see what local services are available. For example, here in Australia, large supermarket retailers have collection bins inside their front doors for this purpose.

The bottom line is, YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Historically, major changes to consumerism have come from a demand arising from the consumers.

Still not 100% convinced?

Please take a short 4 minutes of your time to watch this video, Kids Take Action Against Ocean Plastic | Short Film Showcase from National Geographic.

"Despite the vastness of Earth’s oceans, plastic pollutants are turning up everywhere, from the deep sea to the Arctic ice pack. In this short film from filmmaker Chris Hanson, 17 Hawaiian students study the impact of plastic pollution on their local beaches."


About the Author

Annie, the owner of Milleflore Images, has been a successful stock photographer and videographer for over 7 years.

She has also been an advocate for plastic-free living and climate change reforms for several years. 

Photos and videos used on this page were produced by Milleflore Images. Adobe Stock.

(Exception: Kids Take Action Against Ocean Plastic | Short Film Showcase by National Geographic.)


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