10 Things to do to be less dependent on plastic
BY JACQUELINE BENITA PAUL
There has been a global movement against the use of single-use plastics. With Malaysia ranked number 8 on a global scale in mismanagement of plastic waste, we have a long way to go to get to where we need to be. However, if you look at Rwanda as an example, living without plastic is possible, plus the country just gone through a period of genocide in the 1990’s and still went ahead with enforcing the plastic ban. So, what’s our excuse? Well, follow these 10 tips to be less dependent on plastic and you may find that living without plastic is easier than you thought.
1. SAY NO TO PLASTIC STRAW
You won’t believe the difference you’d be making by simply saying no to plastic straws. Today, at least a million seabirds die from swallowing plastic. Due to its size, it easily strangles our precious aquatic creatures and it takes a long time to decompose. The consequence of doing nothing about this issue, is that we may end up having plastic in our diet (which is known to be a cause for cancer) because the fish we eat are consuming the microplastic that is broken down from the plastic straws. If you do really need to use a straw, there are plenty of alternatives, from bamboo straws, metal straws, silicone straws to more.
2. OPT FOR PACKAGE-FREE SOAPS
Whether it’s your detergent, body wash, shampoo and more, ask yourself if you really need to have a brand new plastic packaging for it? By simply making a one-time investment in a marble, steel or silicone packaging for your toiletries, you can make a powerful impact in the environment in reducing plastic waste.
3. BRING-YOUR-OWN UTENSILS AND TUPPERWARE
Other than saving the environment, you’d be doing your health a lot of favours with this practice. Plastic containers have been scientifically proven to be detrimental for one’s health with the heat of the meal breaking down the plastic into microplastic that goes right into your digestive system. Plus, can you be sure where the plastic containers have been? Who better to guarantee hygiene if not yourself?
4. USE REUSABLE SHOPPING BAG
Here in Malaysia, supermarkets generally charge RM 0.20 for each plastic bag. When there’s a demand, more plastic bags will be produced. A plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to degrade so if we keep increasing our single-use plastic bag dependency, who knows when we’d ever rise above the most dangerous pollutant in the world. These days, you can get your hands on reusable shopping bags practically anywhere and it’s much easier to clean than the single-use plastic bags you keep. So, what do you do with the plastic bags you have at home? Recycle but after that refuse.
5. AVOID BUYING FROZEN FOOD
First of all, processed food is a big no no for your health and then there’s the fact that most of the food in the frozen food aisle is packed in plastic. If you do need to buy fresh food produce, bring your own Tupperware container, it’s cleaner and more convenient to store when you reach home.
6. CLOTH DIAPERS INSTEAD OF DISPOSABLE DIAPERS
Cloth diapers have come a long way and you can set a good example for your child by choosing to use cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers. When you wash cloth diapers, you can use them for even up to the next sibling. It’s also proven to be gentler on sensitive skin and these days there are various convenient designs such as waterproof bands to prevent leaks. Usage of cloth diapers in the long run can even save you money if you choose to wash them yourself.
7. USE A RAZOR WITH REPLACEABLE BLADES
Since plastic takes a relatively long time to decompose (beyond a human lifespan), a simple monthly routine of changing blades can also make a difference in keeping our environment plastic-free.
8. REPLACE YOUR OFFICE WATER DISPENSER WITH A WATER FILTER
No matter what position you are in, you have a voice in the office. Write a note to your HR administrator or even to your CEO, it’s for the greater good and it might even save office expenses. Be sure to mention that everyone should bring their own mugs to fill with water instead of using disposable plastic cups.
9. FIND ALTERNATIVES TO BOTTLED WATER IN MEETINGS
Another simple movement you can start in the office is proposing to have a no-plastic bottle policy and place a jug of water with cups. It even looks more elegant than having a lot of empty plastic bottles around.
10. AVOID COSMETIC PRODUCTS THAT CONTAIN MICROBEADS
When you are choosing a cosmetic product, keep an eye out for these labels as they indicate if the product contains microplastic ingredients: Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and Nylon (PA).