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6 Small Lifestyle Changes to Say ‘No’ to Plastic

02 July 2021

Almost every product that can be purchased from the supermarket is packed, wrapped or sealed in some form of plastic – from yoghurt to soft drinks and detergents. Because plastic is highly durable and affordable, it forms the basis of most packaging materials in the world.

Unfortunately, this durability and cost-effectiveness come at a great expense – the sustainability of our natural environment and ecosystems on land and in the oceans.

Plastic does not degrade at a sustainable rate which results in a build-up of plastic waste. Even with recycling efforts, plastic pollution remains an increasingly concerning environmental issue.

This month marks the start of “Plastic-Free July” in which people across the globe stand together in an effort to reduce the amount of plastic usage. Let’s take a look at some small, yet significant, lifestyle changes YOU can make to say “no” to plastic today.

1. Paper or Cotton Bags

One of the biggest plastic wastes in the world is plastic grocery bags. Think of the pile of plastic packets in your own kitchen cupboard. Every time you go to the supermarket that collection grows by at least two bags per trip.

Instead of buying plastic packets from the supermarket, bring your own cotton carry-on bag to store your groceries or use paper bags instead. Paper bags are much more recyclable than plastic bags where plastic bags can take from 400 to 1000 years to decompose.

In fact, many stores have stopped offering plastic bags altogether with only paper or cotton alternatives for your shopping. The easiest way to implement this change is to keep some cotton or paper bags in your car – that way you always have them with you when you visit the supermarket.

2. Plastic Cutlery

There is nothing more tempting than heading down the party aisle at the supermarket and stocking up on some plastic cups and cutlery for your weekend braai. After all, washing all those dishes is incredibly tedious and tossing out the plastic ‘kitchenware’ is a lot easier.

But, in the best interest of the environment and future generations, it’s time to dust off the extra cutlery and crockery for your next braai, game night or dinner party. Unless you are prepared to wash and store your plastic items for your next event. This is especially useful for children’s birthday parties.

Shockingly enough plastic makes up 10% of the total waste produced in the world which might not sound like much but it is a great deal!

3. Plastic Bottles

Think about how many consumable items are stored in plastic bottles: condiments, soft drinks and water to name a few. These items are one-use items that are bought, consumed and thrown away.

Here are some shocking plastic bottle statistics:

These scary facts are exactly why so many people are making the move to glass bottles and reusable water bottles which can be refilled and reused.

Many companies are offering sustainable alternatives for serving their hot beverages with particular benefits for the consumer. For example, Seattle Coffee Co. now has a range of KeepCups which are completely BPA and BPS free.

Save the Planet, and some money, buy using a reusable cup instead.

4. Avoid Takeout Food

While fast food is enjoyed for its taste and convenience, the materials in which the food is packaged is often not on the environmentally friendly side. Packaging materials like polystyrene containers are actually made out of plastic.

When possible try to opt for home cooking or support food chains that make use of cardboard or biodegradable food packaging alternatives.

5. Wooden Pegs

When hanging your washing choose to use wooden pegs over plastic ones. Very often pegs snap or break on windy days and often due to long sun exposure. When these plastic pegs break the natural inclination is to toss them in the garbage where they inevitably end up in a garbage landfill.

However, if you use wooden pegs, they will degrade a lot faster than the plastic alternative.

When buried in the ground, especially when exposed to dampness, wood will take as little as seven to ten days to decompose which is significantly faster than plastic.

This same approach can be said for many household utensils including serving spoons.

6. Stop Chewing Gum

Did you know that chewing gum is made out of synthetic rubber? Manufacturers use wax, plastics and synthetic rubber to give chewing gum the elasticity that people love.

This means that chewing gum is a form of plastic.

As a result, it takes anywhere from five to 1,000 years to decompose. But, the good news is, that because chewing gum is plastic it can be thrown in with your plastic recyclables.

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How do you reduce plastic use in your home? Feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and tips with us in the comments on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages.