Break-up with single-use plastic

I don’t know about you but I’m really not a happy camper about the fact that we’re pursuing a four-planet-lifestyle on the one planet known to shelter life.

In a recent article I read, the author argues that the problem is not just plastic; it is mass disposability. And I couldn’t agree more. It’s not always easy to live “simply”. But by trying to bring a small change to the throwaway society we live in, we can all make a positive difference (even if it is teeny-tiny).

If you don’t already know – single-use plastics are also known as disposable plastic. They get used only once before they are thrown away or “recycled”. The sad reality is that world-wide only 10-13% of plastic items are recycled, while 40% ends up in landfills, and 32% finds its way into the environment as ‘mismanaged plastic waste’.

Flimsy grocery store plastic – not a vibe!

I went to a grocery store the other day with a shopping list for one of Jamie Oliver’s wonderful easy meals (those famous 30 minute ones). To reduce waste of food, I buy only the necessary ingredients for every meal I plan to prepare. I always roll with a reusable shopping bag in my handbag (especially for those unplanned shopping excursions – I’ll tell you where to find yours in just a bit).

Back to the story. I wanted to buy one single red chilli (obviously one of the items on the recipe’s ingredient list) and the shop teller would not allow me to. She weighed my (single) chilli and then told me that I had to take a few more pieces so that it could actually weigh something on their scale (insert rolling eyes emoji here).

Finally – after I (gave in and) added a few more pieces – the numbers on the scale spiked to a number that could be converted to a Rand amount. Unwittingly, the teller wanted to put all the chillies into a plastic bag (those typical flimsy grocery store ones). Luckily, I stopped her in time and asked her to rather stick the whole bunch together with the barcode-sticker. Even though this was super uncomfortable to carry (and not even to mention controlling the rolling chillies in my basket), I felt a burn of pride – as if I was giving this wonderful planet of ours a hug.

It’s the small things that count, right?

Find yourself some local keepers:

The final straw

Drinking straws are the most common single-use culprit out there and on the top 10 list of items found on the coast during beach and marine clean-ups.

On the website strawsforlife.co.za you’ll read that “[i]t has been estimated ​that 500 million plastic drinking straws are used and discarded each day around the world, and even though you think your few straws might not make a difference, every straw counts.”

Did you know that it takes up to 200 years for a plastic straw to decompose, and they can’t be recycled in most places?

Switch to a stainless steel or a glass option.

Take a look at ForEVA Straws or Stream Straws. 

Keep one in your handbag – and maybe even an extra one for a friend. #SharingIsCaring

 

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Plastic is not fantastic (think shopping bags, fresh produce bags and food packaging)

Are you still buying supermarket plastic bags every time you shop?

A super nifty waste-free solution to help you cut down on your household’s plastic use is using reusable bags. Choose ones that are designed to replace those flimsy grocery store plastic bags or ones that can store your fresh produce.

I love Tiptoe, a small local brand that makes totes. Their bags are made from a lightweight, breathable and easily washable mesh and can be used again and again.

 

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A little earlier I told you about the little bag I keep inside my handbag, well mine is from Hemporium. Their Circle Shopper Bag is dreamy. The bag is reusable, durable and made from a sustainable hemp and cotton blend.

Hemporium was founded in 1996 with the goal of educating South Africans about the sustainable industrial cultivation and use of this valuable natural resource.

The convincing factor was definitely the neutral colour and obviously the stylish circular handle design – that you can swing right over your shoulder (#easycarrying).

 

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Coffee lids

I am of the opinion that you only really need a take-away coffee cup lid if you are driving…

And yes, I do judge friends (and strangers) when they order a coffee and take the plastic lid. Why did everything become so fast paced that we have to run with our coffees?

Get yourself a silicone or BPA-free lid, people!

The best alternative is a reusable cup altogether. And another bonus is that most places offer a discount if you bring your own cup (yay!).

Check out Cape Coffee Beans

 

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Plastic Bottles (water)

Plastic water bottles are not only a human health concern, but also such a problem when it comes to “recycling”.

I must confess that I’m a huge fan of sparkling water – and at the moment I’m saving up for a Soda Stream machine so that I can reduce my footprint in buying bottles and bottles of bubbling water.

 

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Switching starts with me. Everyone of us who buys products packaged in plastic is contributing to the problem, even if we attempt to recycle it. The recycling rate of plastic makes it clear that the statistics can not lull us into a false sense of security.

Let’s take responsibility and switch to reusable options – in this way the growing “plastic-free” consumer trend can influence manufacturers to look at biodegradeable ways to package their products.

Embrace a personal plastic reduction plan – it is a small, but significant step in living a more plastic-free life.

In what ways do you cut down on the amount of plastic you use and throw away?
Please share with us 🙂

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