Like our own health, the health of the environment largely benefits from us taking preventative measures: trying not to create trash and not using up nonrenewable or damaging resources. In short, when it comes to plastics, this means a conscious consumer will go out of his or her way to avoid unnecessary plastics. Without a doubt, the first step to helping with the issue of overflowing landfills and spiraling masses of waste in the ocean is to use less.
However, in the modern world, this sometimes just feels impossible. Even when we refuse plastic shopping bags and don’t use disposable bottles, there is a whole host of packaging, products, and plastics that a person simply can’t avoid when living within the confines of contemporary society. So, when our efforts fail and plastics enter our world, what can we do but try to avoid throwing it on the same old trash heap that got us in this precarious position?
For those of us striving to change things, if plastic is unavoidable, it means we have to be innovative. We have to start thinking of garbage and something valuable, something worthy of saving and using as opposed to discarding. And, it can be done.
1. Plastic Containers
Sometimes to get a bit of dairy-free butter, a jug of distilled white vinegar, or whatever else it is we need, there is no other realistic option than buying into plastic packaging. When this happens, it’s time to take these typically throwaway containers and treat them as reusable containers. Acetone will remove any unwanted ink or labeling, but it will also make the plastic break down some and not be safe for food use. That’s okay as it can be used for homemade cleaning products, organizing craft areas or desktops. They can also be stacked and stored until they are needed.
2. Pill Bottles
Despite our best efforts to be healthy and well, sometimes we get ill, and sometimes natural remedies may not fit in with our recovery plan. We visit the doctor and wind up back at home with a little plastic, prescription pill bottle. They actual make for the perfect travel-size whatever. They can hold shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and other powders and potions we need. They can hold an emergency sewing kit or a tiny first aid kit. They are also great for storing seeds. The point is that they are cute and small and, thus, perfect for when we need to contain cute and small stuff.
3. Credit Cards
They come in the mail. They come as keys. They come from the bank. They eventually expire. Credit and debit cards are all over the place these days, and it’s very hard to live day to day without somehow getting involved with that. As a cheap musician, I’ve long cut them up to use them as guitar picks. Even for those who don’t play, why not use old cards to make picks for friends who do or even just give them to buskers. Then, it saves them the cost of buying new ones, as well as the plastic required to make them. Old cards can also be used to make magnets or mosaics.
4. CD Packs
Admittedly, our use of CDs, for computers and stereos, has dramatically reduced in recent years. Even so, you might still have a few empty CD stack holders lying around. Why not put these antiquated cases back to work holding all your errant cables that would be otherwise bunched up somewhere – likely tangled. Use those CDs packages to help keep the wound up nicely and organized. They are awesome for keeping wires and cables tidy.
5. Plastic Wrap and Packaging
Plastic wrap has become ubiquitous with almost everything new, from a bag of screws to instructional manuals to the out layer of plastic coating the box that all of that is contained in. Of course, buying secondhand will help avoid some of this, but when that doesn’t happen, what can be done with all that plastic packaging? It can be stuffed and saved in one of those boxes, and when the time calls for it, the plastic wrap makes for good padding for parcels and breakable gifts. It’ll save buying bubble wrap or something similar, thus lessening our use of more resources and need for disposing of more.
No denying these are small steps, miniscule contributions to a ginormous problem, but the current pollution problems were also an accumulation of many smaller things. If we start taking the steps, regularly considering how to do these sorts of things, the accumulation, too, will make a massive, important difference.
Lead image source: Flickr