Tips for living without disposable plastic

Advices for life without single-use plastic products

Plastic is now used in almost every aspect of human life which increases the amount of plastic waste that ends up in the environment. The use of plastic materials brought great social benefits and therefore the influence of plastics in the environment for a long time, was environmentally marginalized with emphasis on the aesthetic aspect of discarded plastic. However, in recent few decades, some negative effects have been discovered that caused global concern, especially considering the fact that due to chemical inertia, plastics easily accumulate in the environment. Unlike reusable plastic products that even after many uses do not lose quality, single-use plastic products lose value and become waste after only one use. Disposable straws, ear sticks, bottles, wet wipes, light bags, food delivery packaging, various food wrappers, cutlery and similar products are used for only a few minutes and remain decomposed in the environment for several hundred years.

To reduce our own plastic footprint, here are a few advices:

  • Toothbrushes with a bamboo handle are extremely pleasant to use and can be used by adults and children. Bamboo is a completely environmentally friendly solution because it is the fastest growing plant in the world that also has its own natural protection against pests. If we do not find it a new purpose (for example, as a plant handle), we can always compost it!
  • Use bamboo or metal razors where blades can be replaced.
  • Use refill packaging instead of constantly purchasing a new product in its original packaging. This way, we encourage and increase level of environmental awareness and contribute significantly to the reduction of plastic waste. Currently, there are powder refills on the market that we mix with water before use. Those powder refills are widespread used, from body wash gel to household cleaners.
  • Use naturally based cleaning products and disinfectants with as little environmental impact as possible. Microplastic is all around us and is divided into primary and secondary by origin. Primary microplastic can be found in some cleaning products in their original form, while secondary microplastic is formed by fragmentation of plastic products.
  • Support local restaurants, cafes and other catering establishments that do not use single-use plastics in their business. If we are on the other side, we can always connect with other businessman to exchange ideas, experiences and maybe even achieve cooperation. Civil society organisations dealing with the issue of plastic waste are also available and can help us find multiple alternative solutions.
  • Let’s support the trading and the tourism sector which do not use single-use plastics in their business. More research points to the fact that there is a higher demand for services offered with the principles of sustainable development.
  • Use our own reusable items for storing food and beverages, such as food containers and thermos bottles. It is also desirable that we get the habit of carrying one or two reusable bags that will constantly be present in our bags, backpacks, or our car. Even when choosing reusable alternatives such as drinking bottles or food boxes, try to choose glass, metal, ceramic or bamboo products. These materials are easier and more effective to recycle than plastic.
  • Let’s shop at the markets. This way, we can avoid unnecessary packaging materials in supermarkets and at the same time encourage small family farms and farmers. By purchasing local products, we are shortening supply chains and actively working on reduction greenhouse gas emissions and the climate crisis.
  • Let’s avoid using confetti and balloons – there are effective environmentally friendly solutions such as confetti made from dry leaves or paper lanterns.
  • Finally, find new creative ideas on numerous pages and social media profiles run by individuals in line with sustainable development. Whenever possible, try to avoid single-use products regardless of whether they are made of plastic or other material.

It is good to know that as individuals, either in the role of citizens or in the role of businessmen, we can make a quality and real contribution to the problem of plastic pollution of the environment. The answer we create allows our entire society transition to a circular economy without which there is no sustainable future.

GLOSSARY

Disposable plastics – all plastics that are produced with the intention of being disposable and discarded. It is commonly used for plastic packaging, bags, food packaging, plastic bottles, straws, containers, cups and cutlery.

Composting – the process of recycling organic waste, ie biowaste, which produces the most environmentally friendly organic fertilizer – compost.

Microplastics – small pieces of plastic material, usually less than 5 mm.

Sustainable development – economic development that fully takes into account the impact of economic activity on the environment and is based on renewable sources of goods. The basic premise of sustainable development is: an increase in well-being is measured by an increase in the quality of life of the individual and the population as a whole, not by an increase in the amount of material goods or energy produced or consumed.