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How to Break Up With Plastic

Dear Plastic,

It's you, not me.

Love,

An Environmentally Conscious Ex

Last month, National Geographic released Planet or Plastic, a wake-up call to society. As an avid follower of NatGeo, this issue caught me by surprise. The photos speak for themselves. All photos are owned by National Geographic.

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Photo by Randy Olson
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Photo by Randy Olson
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Photo by Randy Olson
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Photo By Justin Hofman
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Photo by Richard John Seymour

Here are some ways you can reduce your plastic consumption in your everyday life

School / Work

1. Use Reusable Lunch Containers

It’s time to acknowledge how much waste we produce via methods such as packing our meals in plastic ziploc bags or wrapping our food in plastic wrap. Even the reusable plastic container is something we should reconsider. Why plastic when there are more eco-friendly and durable options such as glass or metal food containers?

2. Use Reusable Water Bottles

!!!PLEASE STOP BUYING PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES!!! The plastic water bottle industry needs around 50mill barrels of oil for manufacturing/transportation and one water bottle alone can take up to 1,000 years to break down. Not only are plastic bottles a risk to the environment and the animals in our ecosystems, but they’re insanely expensive for no reason. Why do you continue to pay hundreds to even thousands every year for a free resource? Make the switch to a reusable bottle and use the tap/water fountain instead.

3. Encourage Your Co-Workers/Classmates to Recycle

It honestly amazes me how many of my friends and classmates ignore the recycling bin. Humans are incredibly lazy creatures and have a hard time seeing the long-term repercussions for their two seconds of convenience. Educate and encourage your peers to think twice before throwing everything in the trash, especially when there’s a recycling bin right next to it.

Shopping

1. Bring Your Own Bags

There are a ton of cute cloth and canvas bags out there for your shopping needs. These bags last a long time and are sturdier than the plastic bags you get at the mall or grocery store. Warning: Graphic Video

2. Don’t Buy Pre-Packaged Plastic Goods

Pre-packaged fruit? Buy the real thing and cut it yourself at home. Eggs in a plastic carton? Buy the eggs in the cardboard carton. Milk bags (it’s an Ontario thing)? Turn to the carton. Soda or beer cans in the 6 pack rings? Save a turtle’s life and buy the cardboard alternative instead.

3. Bulk Buy

Here’s a great article by the Green Foot Mama that explains why bulk buying is the way to go: https://www.greenfootmama.com/2018/05/23/bulk-buying-eco-friendly/

Eating Out

1. Decline the Straw/Cutlery/Take-Out Bags

Tell your waiter you don’t need a straw for your drink when you eat out. If you have sensitive teeth, you can purchase reusable metal straws that you can slip easily into your bag. With the same logic as above, bring your own wooden or metal cutlery instead of using plastic utensils (which are usually wrapped in more plastic). If you’re ordering take out or bringing home leftovers, you can put your containers in the same reusable canvas bags you use for shopping.

Home

1. Look at Your Makeup

Take a look at your skincare and makeup collection. Some of your favourite scrubs and cleansers contain harmful microbeads. Some products include Neutrogena’s Deep Clean Scrub, Clean&Clear’s Morning Burst Scrub, and St. Ive’s Scrub.

Here’s a great article on the damaging effects of microbeads and why they’re banned in a lot of countries: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-21/microbeads-beauty-exfoliating-products-environmental-damage/7095108

2. Get a Brita

A Brita pitcher or Brita tap filter will help your family transition to a plastic water bottle-free household.

3. Start Composting

The fact is, we use more garbage bags than we actually need to. A great way to cut down on garbage bag usage is to start composting. A lot of the waste we throw away can be either recycled or composted. ‘Wet’ items such as organic leftovers (ex. vegetable peelings, banana peels, fruit leftovers, egg shells, etc) are thrown in the garbage when they can be composted instead.

Here’s a great article to learning the basics of composting and compostable items you probably didn’t know could be composted: https://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/100-things-you-can-compost

Even though it sounds ridiculous, there are people and even cities out there who are zero-waste because they properly sort their waste.


Ultimately, we are the consumers, and in a capitalist world, we hold the power. Our purchasing habits determine what manufacturers and corporations do in the future. Boycotting small plastic products may not seem like much, but it’s the accumulative effort that makes the change. Stay aware and make the conscious decision to ensure a sustainable future.

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