Regular readers of this blog by now know the refrain: Plastic is death to our oceans. In fact,
plastic has been found in 62% of all seabirds and 100% of sea turtle species. A problem as big as plastic in the ocean requires a concerted collective and individual responsibility. September sees International Coastal Clean-up efforts mobilising people all over the world to help clean up our beaches, and as an extension of this, we take a look at how to start cutting down on one of the biggest marine pollutants – plastic.
1. Ditch the bottled water
This is probably where most of us make a lot of trash. Because you should drink lots of water right? Yes, but lose the plastic! Get yourself a reusable stainless steel or glass bottle and refill it – a much cheaper, healthier and sustainable option than plastic.
2. Say no to plastic bags
Always bring your own bags whenever you shop, that is, not just for the supermarket but everywhere you buy. By bringing your own bag, you alone can save between 400 and 600 plastic bags per year. Kenya has recently joined more than 40 other nations worldwide in banning plastic bags and imposing severe penalties for its use. Bravo!
3. Carry your own cup
Take your own stainless steel or ceramic mug with you wherever you go. Carry one in your car. Hot drinks always taste better in durable ceramic anyway! Like milk cartons, those cardboard cups often have a plastic lining, so in effect they are plastic. All disposable cups have that plastic lid, a major contributor to plastic pollution. Also, remember to always carry your own reusable food container with you for when you want to get take-aways at work or left-overs at a restaurant.
4. Make your own household cleaner
Ever noticed how much plastic you use regarding cleaning materials alone? Did you know that you can make your own all-purpose household cleaning detergent? For an environmentally-friendly alternative to commercial products, simply mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda into 2 litres water. Store in a refillable eco-friendly spray bottle.
5. Buy bulk and smart
We live in a culture of convenience – we want things fast and easy. This is so true when it comes to food, but convenience foods are often the biggest plastic culprit. Apart from using your own reusable shopping bags, you can further reduce your plastic shopping footprint by buying bulk products where possible (thereby reducing packaging), and buying whole fresh produce instead of plastic-wrapped fresh and frozen convenience foods.
Plastic is literally everywhere. So naturally, it is difficult to imagine a world without it. But instead of allowing the enormity of the problem to overwhelm us, we can all try to take baby steps every day to reduce our reliance on plastic. Until it becomes a lifestyle and is not so difficult anymore. We owe it to our environment, sea life in particular, and future generations to make this more sustainable way work. All it takes is some planning and determined mindfulness.