There is no denying that the plastic waste problem is getting out of hand and the best way to handle this crisis is to follow the basics of sustainability: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Educate. Educating yourself and others on the matter and avoiding the use of plastic (reducing) are the most effective out of the four. Reusing comes next since it allows you to make use of the plastic that’s already there to prevent it from becoming waste. Recycling should be your last resort since a large percentage of the plastic you send to recycling facilities actually ends up not being recycled, becoming landfill waste. Recycling is especially dangerous because it allows people to consume plastic guilt-free. There is way too much plastic in the world that it is almost impossible recycle all of it. It is bad for your body and for the environment and cutting it down does us all good. Below are some hacks to help you reduce your plastic consumption.
Let go of bottled water and plastic cups
Worldwide, a huge percentage of the overall plastic waste comes from single use plastic water bottles. If you don’t already have one, invest in a reusable water bottle (preferably stainless, ceramic, or glass). Bring your own cup to work or school if you find yourself using the plastic cups next to the dispenser.
If you’re in the habit of stopping by a coffee shop every morning to get that caffeine fix then you might want to get your own cup with you. You don’t have to go out and buy a travel mug; any mug will do. Disposable coffee cups actually have a layer of plastic laminating them which making them unrecyclable, let alone the plastic lids.
Stop using plastic straws
You don’t really need them … just drink straight from the cup. If you need straws for medical reasons or if you just can’t give up straws for one reason or the other then you might want to invest in a reusable straw. You have options like metal, bamboo, paper, biodegradable silicone, and glass straws. Carry them in your bag/pocket so you don’t need to use the plastic ones when you’re out.
Prepare your own food
Cut down single use food wrappers and take-away packaging by always having your food with you. Prepare your own food or snacks and bring them with you in reusable containers. Also, avoid buying frozen foods because their packaging is mostly plastic. Fresh food is better for both you and the environment.
Bring your own silverware and food containers
Most restaurants use Styrofoam or plastic for your takeaway, and fast food restaurants usually give you a set of plastic cutlery wrapped in a transparent plastic bag with your order. Bring your own containers for take-out and carry with you silver cutlery from your kitchen drawer to cut down on that plastic.
Purchase in bulk
Purchasing your food from bulk bins helps avoid the unnecessary plastic packaging that your food comes in. Legumes, grains, herbs, spices, pasta, rice … etc are fortunately very readily available in bulk in the Egyptian market. This also applies to foods like cheese and meat. Tea bags have a lot of plastic in them so try switching to loose tea leaves; same applies for coffee sachets. Get your own reusable containers with you and fill up as much as you need; you save unnecessary packaging and probably some money too.
Razors and toothbrushes
The plastic from disposable razors and toothbrushes creates a mass of indecomposable waste. If you regularly use razors, buy you a good quality reusable razor with replaceable blades instead of endless disposable ones. The best sustainability replacement for your regular toothbrush by far is either the bamboo one or the replaceable head brushes. Even though the bristle still can’t decompose, you cut down on the plastic stick.
Spare the plastic bags
Do not take a plastic bag at checkout if you can fit whatever you’re buying in your bag/purse or pockets. Always carry around reusable or fabric bags with you; you’re going to need them.
Use reusable produce bags. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy; you probably already have them at home. If you’ve got a bit of extra fabric lying around you can make one yourself.
It is often so much easier to host a party if you don’t have to worry about cleaning the dishes, cups, and silverware. Even though plastic plates, cutlery, and cups seem like the perfect solution, the impact they have is undeniable.
DO NOT throw away the plastic you already have
Do not be tempted by all the “green companies”, there is no sustainability kit that you need to buy to reduce your waste. Make use of what you already have, only buy what you need, and be more environmentally conscious with your consumption. You also don’t need to make major changes overnight or become 100% waste free; every small step counts, do not overwhelm yourself.