Why I hugely reduced my (one-use-)plastic (and other things)

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.

Read ebooks

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.

Walk!

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?

8 thoughts on “Why I hugely reduced my (one-use-)plastic (and other things)

  1. Kal @ Reader Voracious says:

    This post makes me REALLY happy, thank you so much for sharing your tips and the little things you’ve done to decrease your footprint!

    I recently got a reusable cutlery set and metal straw that go in a small zipper pouch in my purse so I don’t have to use one-use plastics when I eat out, and it has made a huge difference! I also have some nice reusable bags that fold up into little squares from the Sierra Club that are always in my bag for shopping.

    There are so many little things we can do that will make a huge impact on the environment with little effort.

    Like

  2. LottieIsWriting says:

    I’ve always taken my own bags shopping with me (the UK has a 5p charge for them now, and I absolutely refuse to pay for a plastic bag, even if it means carrying stuff in my arms, haha) but there is definitely more I could do

    Like

  3. Meeghan reads says:

    This is such a great post. I even found bamboo toothbrushes, and a bamboo hairbrush when I had to replace mine last year. The hairbrush feels sturdier and it’s not too hard on your scalp as there aren’t any little plastic knobs on the end that come off so it’ll last heaps longer too!!

    Like

  4. Isabelle @ BookwyrmBites says:

    the amount of plastic packaging in the world is definitely becoming ridiculous, especially with (as you mention) fruits that already come in their own “natural” packaging! buying in bulk, with your own reusable containers, is definitely the ideal, but there aren’t any nearby stores (as far as I know) with that model – I’m holding out hope that I’ll be able to find one wherever I end up after graduation.

    because I’m currently limited by time and budget constraints as a student, I try to focus on the hierarchy of “reduce, reuse, recycle” – reduce first and foremost, wherever possible; reuse as much as you can; recycle as a last resort because not everything actually gets recycled.

    these are all great tips, especially since (speaking from personal experience) they’re relatively easy to implement! and I absolutely agree: every little bit adds up, and it’s certainly more effective to have a lot of people each doing a little bit than to have a very few people who can fit their collective trash in a tiny mason jar. (not to dismiss zero waste as a lifestyle, or anyone who does it – it’s just not realistic for most people.)

    Like

  5. TheCaffeinatedReader says:

    Love this post so much, saving it for my July Wrap up for sure, but I did answer about what I do on Instagram and don’t want to sound repetitive. I will say this though, when it comes to recycling textiles, we actually have places here to recycle shoes and clothes, if they can be donated they pass them on to charities, if not they go ahead and break ’em down and recycle them and with an ever-growing child, I always donate or recycle her clothes.

    Like

  6. Kristina says:

    As always, a nice educational and non-judgemental post from you !

    While there’s a few things we just typically do as a family like: eating all our leftovers, choosing hard plastic/glass container for them, I have a big reusable bottle for work and one with a straw for home that I constantly use, aswell as re-use some “trash” containers and bags.. there’s still some things I wish I did but can’t – like we are so living in the middle of nowhere that even if my work is quite close by car.. I just cannot walk there, and they removed our bus too, so merp :\

    I definately think brigning your own straws are such a good idea! I’ve seen some foldable ones so you can keep in your purse and etc. but I haven’t gotten to buy one yet.

    Like

  7. Hâf says:

    Awesome post, Michelle! I do all of these already, a couple of years ago they brought in a law that you have to pay for each small plastic shopping bag or bring your own. It’s been an amazing way to reduce how many bags are used just once. I’ve been using a water bottle for years cause buying supermarket water bottles is such a waste. Our council has recently extended the wait to 4 weeks between rubbish bin collections too to encourage people to recycle everything they possibly can.

    Like

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