It’s absolutely true that we don’t need any more reasons to ditch plastic. We know this single action will hugely benefit the environment. It can lower our dependency on petroleum and chemicals, those nonrenewable sinkholes of energy and resources. It reduces the amount of trash we produce, thereby increasing the longevity of existing landfills and cutting of the food supply to that giant gyre of garbage swirling out in the Pacific. It lessens the need to expel energy sorting, recycling and redistributing it. We know all this. We know it’s enough of a reason, but ain’t it grand to find out there’s more.
As a matter of fact, living with less plastic can be as good for us as it is for the environment. Start ditching plastic at home, and all sorts of new, personal benefits creep into the cause. So, for those who maybe need an added kick in the pants or those delivering heartfelt, compelling arguments in aid of the effort, here are a few surprising benefits of living with less plastic!
1. The Financial Benefits
Admit it, we all have the tendency to look at little snacks and products that come conveniently pre-packed in plastic in the grocery store or pharmacy. We don’t typically stop to think that for the price of one granola bar, we could have purchased bulk versions of the ingredients and made a whole weeks worth. Or contemplate skipping the face scrub that comes in plastic bottles in favor of a simple DIY scrub. We’ve been tricked into thinking that things that come in plastic are more convenient for us, so we don’t mind the added cost. But in reality, not only are we wasting cash, but we’re also adding an enormous amount of plastic trash to the waste stream. By cutting ties with plastic and opting to make your own versions of your favorite plastic-laden products, you’ll see the little savings really do add up.
2. The Health Benefits
Is it really all that surprising that something that ravages the environment, leaches chemicals into waterways and comes from questionable sources isn’t all that good for humans either? Different types of chemicals that are found in plastics are linked to all sorts of health problems. For example, BPA has been connected to whacked-out reproductive systems, types of cancer, along with resistance to insulin, and neurological trouble. Phthalates, a group of chemicals that are used to soften hard plastic bottles, damages human development and can cause testicular abnormalities and cancerous tumors.
When you cut plastics out of your life, you reduce your personal exposure to these harmful chemicals and therefore can reduce your risk of developing some of these nasty ailments.
Not to mention, if you start cutting plastics out of your grocery shopping routine, chances are you will choose fewer pre-packaged processed items and opt for more healthy, unpackaged whole food options. There is no questioning that when in doubt, eating foods that come straight from the source is much healthier for you!
3. The Quality Benefits
Ever heard grandparents or other elderly folks yammering on about how things aren’t made like they used be. Toys don’t last. Furniture falls apart. Everything has to be replaced so quickly. Well, by and large, that’s because the quality standards of many products took quite a hit when plastic became a part of just about everything we buy. And, it doesn’t take a lot of thought to get why stuff seems more cheaply made — it is. Nobody goes to get a quality watch and chooses plastic over metal. Nobody decides to go with a plastic table over a wooden one because the plastic version is going to be around for decades. Many toys now break within a day or two of buying them. We pay for what we get. With items like this, if we pay more for quality up front (or shop savvy), we’ll get more out of it in the long run. Sure, a plastic chair can be replaced however many times at the cost of better quality, but the point is that we’ll have to do that.
4. Clearing Your Conscience
It’s so easy and tempting to be someone who doesn’t care or someone who cares but feels too small to make a difference. Don’t be that person. Those of us who see problems and take a stand, battle it out because we won’t allow our conscience to constantly be pawned off to convenience or the status quo, we are proud people, self-assured and confident that the right choices we are making do mean something. Avoiding plastic is one of the choices. It’s an obvious wrong that needs to be righted, and the movement to do so has already made amazing strides in having actual legislation banning plastic bottles and bags in some cities and even some countries. It feels really, really good to be good.
There are so many other ways these ideas could be explored and explained, but suffice to say that, as with most things, the benefits are so much greater than just “better for the environment.” The whole attitude benefits us all: Our health, our quality of life, our mental state and the world we have to live in.
Lead image source: Wesley Eller/Flickr