Everyone loves the idea of a vacation by the sea. Walking along the beach, feeling the warm sand between your toes, and gazing out into a beautiful blue floating pile of plastic bottles?
Scientists estimate that roughly 40% of the ocean’s surface is covered by plastic. This is more than just ugly; it’s devastating! Marine animals mistake it for food, endangered sea life gets tangled in it, and as many plastics break down they release harmful toxins such as BPA that affect marine life and humans alike. Billions of pounds of plastic end up in the oceans every single year. So, the question is; how can we stop polluting the oceans with plastic?
- Reusable bags! Almost every store sells a reusable bag with their logo on it for a small price. For a higher price, you can buy one with a better-looking design. If you really want to make one fit your style, make a craft out of it. Buy a plain bag and attach pins, use fabric markers or iron-on decals for a personalized eco-friendly bag.
- To go with your reusable bag, buy a reusable water bottle. Although the plastic ones have some cool designs and may be cheaper, a stainless steel one would last much longer. Make sure to look for companies that use recycled materials, as many don’t. Also, while you could buy normal plastic bottles and just refill them, those bottles break down after repeated use and may contain BPA, a harmful chemical.
- Don’t forget the coffee cups! Many retailers that sell drinks also sell reusable cups. Sure, they cost more at first but the benefit outweighs the cost. Not only do you help the environment by reusing the cup, but most places that sell them give a small discount when you use them at their business. I know most gas stations near me offer a discount, as well as large companies like Starbucks.
- This one is for those of us who have the dreaded “shark week”. There are several options nowadays to cut down on waste when it comes to our periods. Menstrual cups are easy to use, easy to clean, and can generally be kept in longer between emptying. I personally tried a menstrual cup and while I found it to be a wonderful option, it was rather uncomfortable. Then again, I also don’t like tampons. Thankfully, there are also washable pads for those of us that don’t care for the cups.
- Plastic bags are easily eliminated getting your food home but don’t stop there. Nix the plastic baggies and invest in a set of durable containers for your food storage. Again, a few more dollars spent is easily worth your money. Try looking for a set of glass containers, or at least a slightly thicker plastic set. Be careful to note if you can put them in the microwave, oven, or dishwasher to make sure your set will last as long as possible. Also, remember to look for products made with recycled materials.
- Skip the frozen and prepackaged foods when you can. Not only will you cut down on your plastic use, but you’ll eat much healthier if you make your own meals and personalize each recipe with your favourite spices and ingredients. If you don’t have time during the week, many people prep or completely make their meals ahead of time. It’s usually called “meal prep Sunday” and there are many resources online to help you prep.
Big problems are best broken down into many small solutions that are easy to implement. If everyone in the world worked just one of these tips into their everyday life it would cut down an immense amount of plastic filling our landfills and oceans each year. Less plastic used means money saved, animal life protected, and many beautiful beaches clean for a leisurely stroll.