Just under a year ago I graduated as a biologist. I studied biology and marine biology/ecology. While I’m not working in that field right now (I’m an ecologist focused on nature law), there are some things that have imprinted on me. Things I’ve learned or seen that I will never forget. I once did a study on microplastics.. Everyone knows there is a huge amount of plastic in the sea, microplastics are a big part of that. It sinks to the bottom, it gets eaten by fish and other sea animals. It has left a huge impact on me, so big that I immediately started to change things in my life. I wanted to incorporate things that would ensure I was using less and less plastic, paper, anything really.
Unfortunately, you can’t wish it to be over, but there are some small things you can do too! Things that not only reduce the amount of plastic in general, but also plastic that gets degradaded into microplastic. Paper that can’t be recycled.. other things that ruin nature and our planet.
Stop using one-use-plastic
Things like plastic plates or cutlery, straws, plastic wrapping for food. a lot of these things are unnecessary. I have stopped buying/requesting plastic bags. I use my own grocery bags and carry these small foldable bags with me everywhere I go. This is something everyone can do, I know that across the world there are some stores that bag your groceries for you, but you can always supply your own bags, or use paper bags that you can recycle.
I have bought metal straws that I take with me. They don’t take up much space and they’re so easy to use. They come with supplies to clean them. Now, I know usingmetal straws isn’t for everyone, there are people that have to use plastic straws. Metal, glass, paper straws don’t work for them. And I get that! That’s perfectly fine, but if you don’t need them, don’t use them. Even better – don’t use straws at all. I’m sure you can drink your soda without one.
Something that isn’t as pupular in the Netherlands, and I assume in the world, is getting your groceries in your own bags. I know of stores that have huge bags of pasta or salt or sugar, they don’t package them. You can weigh what you need and take them home in your own bags. I wish I could find one close to home, because this would be amazing. Not only will you not waste as much (since you buy only what you need), you won’t throw away the packaging, because there is none.
Re-use your garbage
Now, I don’t mean to reuse your gross garbage. But when you have envelopes or paper you’ve printed something on and you no longer have any use for, write on the other side! You don’t have to use these things for anything important, you can use it for to do notes, or grocery lists. Just use every inch of the paper instead of getting a whole new sheet that you’re going to throw away anyway. If you don’t want to use paper at all, make notes on your phone. People usually carry it around anyway, so why not make use of it all.
As tough as it is for me to say, choose ebooks instead of paper books. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love paper books, but they’re paper. And to make paper, you have to chop down trees. Hopefully there will be a time where recycled paper is used more in books, and people don’t throw out their own books, but they’re handed in and recycled.
Or use public transportation. And yes, I know not everyone can do this too, but if you can, please do. Or take a bike! Not only is it good for your health, you don’t use gas or emit gasses. It’s also a great way to get a tan, or to enjoy nature (while we still have some).
Buy a reusable waterbottle
Something that always annoys me is people using plastic waterbottles that they’ll eventually throw away. I have a couple of reusable waterbottles. I’ve been using the same ones for years. You can boil them to clean them, use bleach is bad things happened to it, there is no need to throw them away.
Don’t buy prepacked fruits and vegetables
The great thing about fruit and vegetables, is that they’re washable, or have a thick skin you have to remove before you eat them. Wrapping bananas, oranges, lemons, or other fruits with a removable skin in plastic, it’s an extreme oveersue of plastic you don’t need. Even if you’re using the skin for cakes or whatever, washing them before use is just as good. Fuit and vegetables have had a long road before ending up in the store, I doubt they were packed separately during transport.
There are more things you can do – mend clothes before throwing them out, well, don’t throw them out at all, donate them if you can’t use them anymore. Never idle your car if you don’t have to, use plastic (reusable) container for lunch. Don’t throw away leftover food, but eat it again the next day or freeze it, try using more organic beautyproducts (Lush recycles their packaging!), switch off lights/AC/devices when you’re not using them.
It’s important to think about these things and then actually do it. Don’t worry if you’re not able to do all of them, even one or two could make a big difference. Please don’t say ‘what difference does it make if I’m the only one that does this?’ But isn’t that the point? You won’t be the only one, if everyone does at least one thing, plastic use will reduce.
Is there something I you’re doing to reduce plastic/paper/water waste? Do you think taking care of the environment is important?