Plastic is everywhere. Take a look around yourself now and I bet you’ll be able to add it up no problem. Look around your local supermarket, café or toy store and you will see it. It’s simply everywhere.
Plastic pollution is a growing epidemic that unfortunately shows no signs of stopping. In the last ten years, we’ve produced more plastic than in the previous 50.
According to the National Geographic:
“The new study in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances is the first global analysis of all plastics ever made—and their fate. Of the 8.3 billion metric tons that have been produced, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Of that, only nine percent has been recycled. The vast majority—79 percent—is accumulating in landfills or sloughing off in the natural environment as litter. Meaning: at some point, much of it ends up in the oceans, the final sink.”
For more reasons why reducing our plastic waste is important, check out these links:
91% of plastic isn’t recycled
Plastic takes 400+ years to biodegrade
Over the last ten years, we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Plastic Pollution study
If you’re interested in reducing your plastic footprint but have no idea where to start, you’ve come to the right place.
In this blog, I’m going to show you some great alternatives to single-use plastic and how to get started.
How to Break Up with Single-Use Plastic
Step 1: Track your trash
Often people don’t realise how much waste they produce until they see it all in one place at one time.
My first suggestion would be to collect all of your plastic usages for a week to see how much plastic waste you have generated by end of the week.
The plastic water bottles, those single-use coffee cups (lined with plastic) and lids; plastic straws, plastic produce bags, cling film wrap, the plastic lining of a box of cereal; soda bottles, food packaging. Collect it all (or write it down if you can’t save it) and take a picture. This will give you an idea of how much plastic you consume and therefore show you what kinds of products you’ll need to avoid or replace.
Step 2: Be OK with Saying No
To eliminate your plastic, you have to learn to say no.
No to the plastic disposable coffee cup at the coffee shop; no to the plastic straw at the juice bar; no to the bottle of water someone hands you automatically at a meeting. No to the plastic bag the cashier wants to put your plastic-free veggies into before you can put them into your cloth shopping bag. You get the picture 🙂
Step 3: Learn What Your Alternative Options to Plastic are and Make The Change
You’ll find it easier to move away from so much plastic usage when you equip yourself with some simple alternative and reusable options.
Some alternatives will be easy to adopt, others may take time. This transition won’t happen overnight and that’s ok.
Replacing single-use plastic:
Alternative: reusable glass straws, stainless steel straws, no straw.
Plastic Water Bottles
Alternative: Bring your own water with you in a stainless steel reusable bottle, glass bottle or reuse a jar you have at home e.g a large Weck or Ball jar works great
Other Plastic Bottled Beverages
Alternative: Make your own natural drinks and transport them in swing top glass bottles or jars.
Homemade lemonade, kombucha, kefir, ginger beer, fresh homemade juice. You have many to options to choose from!
Alternative: Bamboo or stainless steel utensils
Plastic Coffee Cups
Alternative: bring your own reusable coffee cup/travellers cup made from non-plastic material.
Alternative: bring your own glass jar or non-plastic material cup. I love Weck jars for this.
Plastic Stirrers for Coffee
Alternative: bring a stainless steel spoon
Plastic Bags at the Supermarket for Fruits and Veggies
Alternative: bring 100% natural cloth bags to put your produce in instead of synthetic (aka plastic), which shed plastic microfibers into the ocean when you wash them.
I’ve used tea towels and sewn them into bags of all sizes to repurpose them for further use 🙂
These work great as bread bags too so you don’t need plastic bags.
Plastic Bags from Shops
Alternative: bring your own natural fibre tote bags/string bags
Fruit and veggies Wrapped in Plastic
Alternative: I know this one can be a hard one but there are some places you can scope out that will be plastic free.
I would suggest farmers markets or local markets like Green Door market in Dublin. And of course any plastic-free choices you have in the supermarkets, and use your reusable cloth bags to transport.
Alternative: Glass jars (again, Weck/Ball/Le’Parfait Jars work great), stainless steel metal lunch boxes and bamboo lunch boxes work well for taking food to work or to school (maybe pass on the glass option for kids).
Metal lunch containers also work well for taking home any leftovers from restaurants.
Wrap up sandwiches/fruit in large beeswax wraps. (see below)
Plastic Lined Tea Bags
Many teabags, mostly the ‘fancy’ ones are made of silky synthetics—in other words, plastic, not silk.
Alternative: Look for natural/unbleached, chemical-free teabags, or opt for loose tea leaves/herbs and use a tea infuser.
Alternatives: Coffee brewed in a French press, stovetop coffee maker or coffee machine
Alternative: a bamboo toothbrush
Plastic Period Materials (tampons or pads)
Of everything on the list, processed food will probably require the most effort to replace and be the most challenging. Processed foods almost always come in shiny plastic packaging, promising convenience and ease. It’s convenient sure, but it’s neither healthy for us nor the planet, so it’s also on the swapsies list.
Alternative: Cook real food with real ingredients. Yes, home-cooked meals take longer to prepare, but they are better for your health, better for your waistline, better on your taste buds and of course, better for the planet.
If you’re in the position to order in bulk (ask in store!) or use bulk bins to stock up on staples like nuts, dried fruit, beans, grains and so on I highly encourage it.
Step 4: Grab a Pen and Paper and Get Meal Planning
Be prepared and know that being plastic free may require more time and effort on your part. Being prepared and organised are good habits to have regardless and so this plastic challenge is a great way to get you started!
Meal prep is a great way to help you know what foods you need to buy and for what meals you will need it for. It not only saves you the headache of “what shall I eat?”, but it also helps prevent plastic wastage. Plus going plastic free is a great way to ensure that you will be eating little to no processed foods- which is better for our bodies, and the planet.
Have the fridge filled with fresh fruit, raw and roasted veggies, pre-cooked grains, salad ingredients, dressings/dips/pestos etc; and a cupboard with your beans/nut butters and so on to make everything as easy as possible for you. Naturally, all of these should be stored in reusable no plastic containers, but you’ve got the hang of this now I can tell 😉
If you cook in bulk, you can freeze some meals so that you just need to take them out when needed.
Step 5: Pack your Bag with Your Necessities – and don’t forget your lunch!
Ensure your bag is prepped the night before leaving for work/uni/life with your necessities: coffee cup, water bottle, utensils, tote bags and cloth bags in case you go shopping.
Then in the morning add your prepared lunch and any snacks and you’re good to go!
Of course, not everyone wants to be or simply can’t be 100% plastic free and that’s ok. It’s about reducing where you can and being mindful of your choices. If you get a coffee every day at the local café, do you really need a brand new single-use plastic cup when you could bring your own every day?
Imagine if everyone reading this blog did this. Think of how much plastic waste you’d save. With more and more of us making these changes, industry’s and companies will also have to adapt.
As the old saying goes, if you want to see the change you have to be the change.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact us via our Facebook page!– Emily
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication