A plastic diet

I never really thought too much about my addiction to convenience until recently. I never thought much about where aluminum foil, Syran Wrap, Hefty garbage back, Ziplock baggies, and toilet paper come from. I know I use them and am grateful for their presence as it has made my life easier. 

Since plastics were introduced to consumers in the 1950’s, 9.2 billion tons have been produced, of which more than 6.9 billion tons have become waste with only .6 billion tons ever making it into recycling. Those numbers are so large, I can’t even imagine the magnitude effectively. Much of that ends up in waterways. Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are affected. Microplastics, less than 1/5 an inch across, are being consumed by zooplankton to whales.

In fact, a dead whale washed up recently in Italy with 49 ponds of plastics- “garbage bags … fishing nets, lines, tubes, the bag of a washing machine liquid still identifiable, with brand and barcode … and other objects no longer identifiable” inside it. While we may not consume whales, there are traces of microplastics found in many of the fish we do consume. 

Some may consider climate change a hoax. Others who don’t aren’t entirely sure how to stop it, let alone reverse the damage. There is no question that all of us can agree that we can each significantly reduce our plastic usage.

The start of change

Back in the 1980’s, there was a drought in Oklahoma. We were mandated to ration water usage. You could only water the lawn on certain days if your house number was even, the other days if it was odd. You couldn’t wash your car. The PBS station put together a resource guide for how to conserve water. As an avid watcher of PBS, I called the number and ordered a copy. It arrived to our house, addressed to me (confusing to my parents why an 8 year old would be getting mail from PBS), and I devoured its contents. I became an avid conservationist of water, developing some wonderful habits. Some of which I still use 40 years later.

What can we do to start reducing or eliminating our plastic usage?

  1. If you’re going to use Amazon (or any company that ships) cluster order or order in bulk so you don’t have a ton of extra shipping material.
  2. Invest in a reusable water bottle (this company even plants 10 trees with every bottle sold! #bonus!)
  3. Switch to metal straws or bamboo straws  or biodegradable straws
  4. Change your laundry detergent
  5. Make your own reusable food wrap
  6. Switch to silicone reusable bags instead of Ziplocks
  7. Switch to bamboo toilet paper and paper towels. Best part of the paper towels is that they are reusable!
  8. Use a bamboo toothbrush
  9. This is specifically for people who love Sonic drinks. Contact their customer support (www.sonic.com/contact) and ask them to switch from styrofoam to a ecotainer cups. In fact, request that of every place still using styrofoam (like Dunkin Doughnuts)

This is but a small list. I recently switched our plastic food containers for glass containers. I’m spending the month of April focusing on making small changes that will contribute to a larger solution around plastic. I’ll be sharing a lot on my Facebook page. You can take the same pledge as I have here.