I’m not gonna lie I sang “break up with your plastic” to the tune of Ariana Grande’s “break up with your girlfriend” the whole time I was writing this post. Just in case that didn’t pop into your head, you’re welcome.
But today’s post is on a more serious topic and that is the overwhelming plastic pollution problem.
I’d like to start by sharing what @sustainably_claire on Instagram pointed out: plastic is not our enemy, our single-use mindset is the enemy. Nothing is waste until we waste it.
There are necessary uses for plastic when used responsibly. Such as medical equipment and syringes or for disaster areas without access to clean water.
I’m talking about the plastics we come into contact with in our daily lives like plastic cutlery, plastic grocery bags, food wrapped in plastic, etc.
These plastics are a HUGE problem. You’d be surprised how many things actually contain plastic such as chewing gum, our clothing, and glitter. These are an even bigger problem because they’re so little and end up in our oceans and kill aquatic life.
So, what can you do about it? Well, a lot, actually. Your mindset is the key to everything. In this post, we’re going to talk about 5 super simple things you can do today.
5 ways to break up with plastic:
1. Start slowly –
We’ve grown up and lived in a world that is completely reliant on plastic and single-use items. Chances are your home is filled with it and you use it in your daily lives without even thinking about it. That’s ok.
A sure-fire way to fail at breaking up with plastic is to try and quit cold turkey. Take this process slowly and set yourself up for success.
Don’t expect this process to happen overnight and don’t feel like you have to do everything right now to make a difference.
When transitioning into a more zero waste lifestyle I suggest learning about the 6 Rs of sustainability and easing your way from there.
2. Use everything you have –
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make (and that I almost made) when starting their journey is the idea to throw everything out and purchase plastic-free options.
This physically pains me. Because like I mentioned above, waste isn’t waste until you waste it.
Using the things you already have is the most sustainable option because all of those things already exist. Resources don’t need to be wasted by the demand for purchasing new things.
If you have plastic Tupperware, use it. The alternative is it ending up in a landfill. Use it until it can’t be used anymore and then purchase glass containers for example.
A lot of reusable water bottles are also made of plastic. This doesn’t make them evil, as it’s not a single-use plastic.
I have Tupperware, makeup and a few other products lying around from before I started my journey 2 years ago. It’s ok. Use it up. It’ll save you money and keep things out of landfills for longer.
If you absolutely don’t want to use these products any longer, find a place to donate them or a proper way to recycle them.
3. Remember: it’s toxic –
If giving up plastic for the planet isn’t enough of an argument for you, remember, plastic is toxic. I won’t sugar coat it. The amount of chemicals that go into these products is insane and not regulated very well.
Now, I don’t say this to scare you or to contradict my previous point of using up all the plastic you already have.
But this is something you should keep in mind going forward. Why would you want to purchase food that’s wrapped in toxins?
4. Change the way you shop –
Yes, getting reusable grocery and produce bags is a HUGE step towards breaking up with plastic. But changing the way you shop goes so much further.
When shopping opt for bulk fruits and veggies and bulk ingredients if you have access. Also try to find your favorite foods in glass, cardboard, and tin as these items are endlessly recyclable.
Example: choose jam in a glass jar instead of a plastic one. You can recycle or reuse the jar! Choose noodles in a cardboard box instead of a plastic bag, etc, etc.
Related: Zero waste grocery shopping
5. Invest in reusables –
Finally, when you’re ready, invest in the reusable items you know you’ll use most.
If you’re getting coffee daily, invest in a reusable coffee mug. If you’re eating on the go often, pick up a travel utensil set.
Starting with a reusable water bottle, grocery bags and straws are always a really great place to start as they are arguably the most popular zero-waste swaps. Start easy and as your journey continues, invest in more advanced swaps like shampoo bars and silicon ziplock bags.
Related: How to use a shampoo bar
Making the switch to a less wasteful, less plastic-filled life can seem super intimidating. but it doesn’t have to be if you go slow, keep going and make conscious decisions along the way. That’s really all it takes.
Thank you for reading, I hope you found this post helpful and encouraging to get started on your own journey to break up with plastic. Please don’t forget to share this post and follow me on Instagram for daily low waste living inspiration!