Plastic has become more than just a problem. “Problem” doesn’t much cover it. We should say something along the lines of epidemic, scourge, blight, or affliction. It’s a calamity! Our planet, most of us have come to acknowledge, through no other cause than humanity, is dealing with a plague of plastic, a pandemic of petroleum, a pile of pollution that just won’t seem to go away.
What, these days, doesn’t have plastic as a part of it or, at the very least, wrapped around it? It’s a way of life, a common cautionary colloquialism that we ignore on a day-to-day basis, letting it flow through our hands thoughtlessly (or helplessly) because, in short, we’ve been left with little choice. It’s what our fresh vegetables come in. It’s how our packaged goods stay undamaged. It’s what we put our other plastic in. We use it for nearly every item we produce and then use it to package those items.
But a lot of people are clued in on the need for change. Though it isn’t happening overnight, piece by piece, this wholly outdated 20th-century pollutant is being curbed. And, we are not talking about in a garbage can at the street curb here. Folks, let’s cut some more plastic out of our lives for good.
1. Clear, Thin Bags for Bulk Goods and Fresh Produce
All in all, though they’ve somehow not disappeared entirely yet, the plastic shopping bag of the last century has been dealt a fierce blow. Cities are banning them. Every day, shoppers are opting for reusable versions. Some stores are even giving discounts. However, there are the other plastic bags that occur even more often in supermarkets, the ones we put our bulk wild rice into or our hand-picked, organic tomatoes.
These have quite received the bashing that shopping bags have gotten, but it’s time we start doing something. Most of us rarely buy more than a couple of cucumbers or half a dozen carrots at a time, so why not just let them linger loosely in the cart? Is it really such a troubling issue? Or, for things like bulk oats or legumes, we can either come up with some reusable choice or simply reuse those little clear, thin bags as many times as possible.
2. Bubble Wrap in Our Mailing Boxes
If you’ve ever shipped something fragile, chances are you’ve used Styrofoam peanuts. But the whole process of packing items for mailing can be daunting. Items are coated in protective plastic packaging then bubble wrapped in another layer of plastic, all of which is shoved into a box, this time cardboard, held together with plastic tape.
Bubble wrap just isn’t necessary in a world, which despite function largely through computerized systems, is producing more paper waste than ever. Firstly, most things are packaged in such a way that we can barely get to them, let alone break them. Secondly, there are newspapers, shredded documents, any plastic packaging already around, old wadded up magazine pages and so on that already exist, fulfilling other purposes, that can be used instead.
Another option: Save and reuse, rather than popping the air pockets, any bubble wrap that might be sent your way.
3. Plastic Trash Bags to Put Our Other Plastic In
Plastic trash bags, from some perspectives, can be absolutely bewildering. With all of the errant plastic bags flung around the show these days, people are still — and to no small degree — spending money on more plastic bags specifically made to put the plastic bags they have into. No wonder we are reaching a crisis!
If there must be a liner in the trash can, which there likely doesn’t, why not use a plastic bag that’s already a pollution problem, rather than buying one specially made for it. Trash bags are produced only to be trash. That’s freaking insane! While some things might be problematic — food, for instance — we can address most of these issues with composting, recycling, upcycling, and so on. Most trash never needs to be “trash” but can and should be put to good use elsewhere.
4. Plastic Wrap and Sandwich Bags
It’s a force of habit for many of us: We grew up pulling our p-b-and-j out of a sandwich sack or an encasement of cling film, and so as moms and dads, as continued brown-baggers, we’ve continued to do it this way. Hey, our parents weren’t as informed as we were. We can’t blame them, but it’s time to put a stop to all of this.
This is an easy fix. We go invest in some reusable containers for all of it: sandwiches, chips (vegetable, potato, or tortilla), and whatever else. We think about the fact that using disposable stuff means that it’s being disposed of all over the planet. That just doesn’t jive if we are hoping for the place to stay clean.
Each step, no matter how small they may seem, is a step to a better tomorrow without so many plastic pollutants out there, floating around in our oceans and lakes. If we can make these things more sustainable, we can make other things more sustainable, and it all adds up to long-term kinship with the world. It’s time we all start making the right choices, especially on little things — that add up to big things — like this.
If we all make an effort to identify where we use plastic and actively look for alternatives, we can drastically cut down on the amount of plastic pollution.
As the leading organization at the forefront of the conscious consumerism movement, One Green Planet believes that reducing everyday plastics from our lives is not about giving up anything or sacrificing convenience, but rather learning to reap the maximum benefit from the items you use every day while having the minimum impact.
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