I get it: you’re busy. It’s just easier to grab a large iced coffee on your way to work, chuck the plastic cup in the first bin you find, and grab a meal deal for lunch. It even comes with those handy disposable forks. Very practical. But is it good for our planet? Not really, unfortunately.
We live in a disposable society that leads us to think that once we chuck our rubbish in the bin, it’s gone forever. Sadly, the reality is different. Most plastic items that we only use for a couple of minutes end up in landfills or our oceans for hundreds – if not thousands – of years. Only 9% is actually recycled.
Luckily, there are many easy ways in which you can cut down your use of disposable items and reduce your plastic footprint.
This seemingly harmless item that we only use to sip one drink will stick around for 200 years.
Why not just tell the bartender “no straw, please” and enjoy your drink straight from the glass?
On the bright side, since people from all over the world started raising their concerns about plastic straws, many businesses have switched to biodegradable alternatives.
It proves that a movement—and a hashtag, apparently—can make the difference. If you really can’t enjoy your cocktails without a straw, you can always carry a reusable metal one. Easy.
- Reusable water bottle
I wouldn’t want you to miss out on getting hydrated. However, instead of buying a bottle of water on your way to work, why not bring a reusable one from home?
Not only it’s going to save you an average of 300 plastic bottles per year, but it will also save you money. It’s a win win.
- Reusable coffee cup
If, when reading the first paragraph, you thought I implied that you shouldn’t get a takeaway coffee on your way to work, please let me explain: I wouldn’t want anyone to face their day without their usual coffee fix. Trust me.
The problem is just that most coffee cups can’t be recycled, the lids are made of plastic and, if you go for iced lattes, the whole thing is made of plastic.
Again, bringing your own coffee cup will help you reduce your plastic footprint. Most cafés even offer a discount to customers who bring their reusable cup. Oh, and they are super cute.
- Bag for life
Plastic bags take from 10 to 1000 years to decompose. If they don’t end up in some poor turtle’s stomach first, that is. Have you noticed how much they resemble jellyfish, when they are floating in the sea? If you get in the habit of bringing your bag for life when you do your food shopping and always have a foldable one in your bag, you’ll save yourself money in the long run and spare the oceans from hundreds more plastic bags.
- Lunch at work
Yes, meal deals can be convenient, but most of those plastic containers and packaging aren’t even recyclable. Batch cooking is the answer! Or, if you don’t want to prep your meals at the start of the week, just make an extra portion when you cook your dinner, so that you can bring it to work the following day. And don’t forget to bring your own cutlery!
- Less packaging
Have you ever seen some bananas wrapped in plastic and thought, “Oh, if only bananas came in a natural, biodegradable protective layer, like a banana peel, or something”?
Yep, you get the point.
Most supermarkets can’t seem to get enough of pointless plastic packaging. Try and go for unpackaged items. You could also check out that fruit & veg shop down the road that uses recyclable paper bags. There are also plenty of zero waste shops popping up in more and more cities: you can bring your own jars and containers and just fill them up with dry food, shampoo, washing up liquid and much more.
This is just the tip of the iceberg but it’s a great start. You can still run to Starbucks to enjoy a much-needed coffee on your way to work, of course. But doesn’t it taste even better when you know that your reusable cup won’t end up in landfill?