Plastic is one of the major problems faced by our planet and reducing our demand for it is essential as we leave behind our reliance on polluting fossil fuels and move collectively towards a more sustainable future way of life. While some issues will only be solved on a national and of course international scale, there is also much that can be done on a household and individual level.
We must all individually reduce our plastic use – which is easier said than done. There is so much plastic in all of our lives but if we think carefully and take advantage of greener options then we really can move towards a practically zero-waste lifestyle. Here are some areas to think about when reducing plastic waste and moving towards self-reliance and sustainability.
Food and Drink
Plastic food and drinks packaging is one of the main areas of disposable plastic generation. One of the best ways to reduce the plastic packaging coming into our homes is to grow our own food wherever possible. Garden lawns can be given over to growing local food and community gardens and allotments can provide local communal produce. Some food can even be grown on windowsills and in the smallest of outside spaces. Vertical gardens are an exciting way of increasing yield over a small area, green roofs can feed a city, and permaculture practices can even allow food to be grown in deserts and the most unpromising of environments.
In addition, we can make smarter choices as consumers – putting pressure on large companies to decrease plastic packaging by choosing wholesale and free-stored items wherever these are available. We can take our own reusable cloth bags or paper sacks to the store rather than allowing them to be bagged in plastic.
Many of the plastic items we use in our homes are unnecessary. Food can be stored in glass, metal or silicone containers when put in the fridge or freezer. Place leftovers in a bowl with a plate over it rather than using plastic wrap. Do not buy a whole raft of house cleaning products but instead use just vinegar from a glass bottle and a cardboard box of bicarbonate of soda.
Cleaning and Beauty
Vinegar and soda can also replace your barrage of hair care products. You can buy eco-friendly products like natural-bristle wooden brushes for hair and teeth, and home-grown herbs and flowers can provide a range of lovely scents. Return to old fashioned safety razors rather than disposables. There are a whole range of ideas for making a wide variety of balms, lotions and soaps that will help you avoid the plastic that commercial products often come in. Eschew a huge array of make up and move instead towards a fresh and natural beauty.
We are often guilty of always striving to own what is new – though not necessarily better. Before upgrading, really think about whether you need the new gadget. Consider the cost of constant consumerism to the planet. Repair and reuse wherever possible to keep new plastic packaging and items to a minimum.
Think carefully before buying any new items, be a savvy consumer, re-learn old skills of self-reliance and you can succeed in reducing plastic waste, even if not in eliminating plastic entirely from your life.