advice, environment & eco friendly advice, Guide to going vegan, lifestyle, my thoughts, Uncategorized

5 ways to minimize plastic use and help the environment

Recently when scrolling through social media i came across a picture of a smoothie in a glass jar and had a glass straw. It’s strange how i had never thought about buying a glass straw before. I usually drink my daily coffee or if i have an energy drink with a straw to “save” my teeth, and i usually try to reuse the straw as much as possible but after c.a 3 days it starts to feel a little unhygienic even if i wash it. So i use 2-3 straws a week, and even if i do recycle them, at the end of the year it’s about 104-156 straws i have used just at home. That is alot of straws…. and they all end up somewhere. Just investing in a simple glass straw means 1) less plastic, 2) less waste, 3) most likely better health wise to not use so much plastic due to the chemicals in plastic, 4) better for the environment and 5) the plastic straws won’t end up maybe hurting marine life or ending up in nature.

You can read more about the damages of straws HERE

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But it is not just straws, what about all the plastic lunch boxes i have. Yes they are cheaper, yes they weigh less…. but the fact that i have so many lunch boxes and in the end they will end up having to be thrown away.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), the U.S. generated almost 14 million tons of plastic containers and plastic packaging in 2010 alone. An astounding amount of this plastic either can’t be recycled in most municipal recycling programs or just isn’t recycled. The EPA also reports that in 2012, only about 14 percent of those plastic containers and plastic packaging were recycled. (source)

Glass jars and containers are easier to clean and so more hygenic, don’t have any chemicals but also they won’t get that “fat stain” which plastic containers often get if you have had a dish that has had oil or butter. I.e in some of my containers there is like this constant coating/layer of fat which i can’t get rid of even if i washed it numerous times and used dish washing soap.

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Also, ditching the plastic bags. I have alread talked about this, but think… for example if you take 2-3 plastic bags each time you FOOD shop and you shop maybe 2-3 times a week that would be around 150 plastic bags just from food shopping alone. Then there are the plastic bags from when you buy new clothes or you buy cosmetics or shoes or whatever else you may buy…. 

Plastic bags take years to decompose, hard to recycle, can end up in nature and harming wildlife as well as can release chemicals into the ground over time.

So begin bringing your own bags with you when you go shopping to save plastic! In Sweden they has also begun charging for plastic bags in clothes stores which i think is great. Hopefully it will make people think twice, though i think they should increase the price of the plastic bags because they are still relatively cheap so people buy them anyway.

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What about rubbish bags then? In my household we usually just use plastic rubbish bags as i havent figured out what else we can use. But then we also recycle and have a compost bag. Apparently there are biodegradable plastic bags but they have to be thrown awway correctly and end up in the “right place” for them to actually decompose and work. And then according to THIS site, there are rubbish bags which are more environmentally friendly but most often have to be bought online which makes people less inclined to buy them.  You can read more about what eco friendly plastic bags are available, HERE . For now i don’t really have an answer to this topic area, instead i will do my research and see if i come up with a good solution to minimize the use of plastic rubbish bags!

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And lastly, plastic bottles and plastic cups. The best thing you can do is invest in a good glass jar and try not to use plastic cups or if you do… reuse them. Example if you go to a house party, there will be numerous plastic cups for different drinks… try to use the same cup the whole night! And something i need to get better at is minimizing the amount of cocacola zero bottles i buy. Both for health reasons but also to minimize plastic… even if i do recycle them, i know that it would be better if i just didn’t buy them from the very beginning. So i need to keep this in mind!!

Its not just the plastic bottle that is the problem, also the cap. According to One green planet “Plastic bottle tops are currently not recyclable, and as with plastic bags they often end up at the bottom of the ocean, and in the stomachs of a variety of animal species that mistake them for food. One albatross that was recently found dead on a Hawaiian island had a stomach full of 119 bottle caps”.

And the environmental impact of bottles: “Plastic bottles are made from a petroleum product known as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and they require huge amounts of fossil fuels to both make and transport them. In the 1970s the U.S. was the world’s largest exporter of oil, but now it is the largest importer. If you fill a plastic bottle with liquid so that it is 25% full, that’s roughly how much oil it took to make the bottle. For a single-use disposable item, that’s a lot.” Source

Small changes that DO make a difference. Imagine if you from this moment on begin to consume less plastic. You use your own bag or recycle the plastic bags you have, you buy glass jars and lunch boxes and straws instead of plastic bags, don’t take plastic bags when buying fruit and veggies unless absolutely necessary and maybe in the future there will be more “plastic bag free” stores and food will be by weight for example nuts, dried fruit, oats, flour etc Think.. if you made these changes and do as best you can to minimize plastic use for the rest of you life example the next 20-60 years… What a difference that would make! Say if you live for the next 60 years and decide to always bring your own bags when food shopping you could reduce your plastic bag use by around 9000 (rough estimation if you use around 3 plastic bags per week!)

Of i am not perfect and no one else is…. there will be times you need to spontaneously go to the store and you don’t have a bag with you, its ok. There will be times you go out and get a drink with a straw, its ok and you will still buy food with plastic and use plastic in your daily life…. that’s just how our society is, but if we all make active choices to minimize the use that is the most important. Not that we are perfect and go 100% plastic free because that just isnt possible in our society, but small active choices and changes!

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16 thoughts on “5 ways to minimize plastic use and help the environment”

  1. Very thoughtful post, and also inspiring. I’m already trying to minimise my plastic waste, but I never thought about plastic food boxes. Thank you

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  2. Ibland blir jag överväldigad när jag tänker på all skit som djurarten människa ställer till med: miljöförstöring, klimatförändringar, nedskräpning, radioaktivt avfall, utrotning av djur och växter, plastavfallet som du tar upp här ovan osv… 😦

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    1. Jag kan känna samma sak. Ibland blir man så ledsen och överväldigan när jag tänker på hur människor behandlar djur, andra männiksor och hur lite folk bryr sig om planeten. Ibland känns det bara för mycket och som man inte gör tillräckligt, men då försöker jag tänka på ALLA som faktiskt gör skillnad, alla som faktiskt bryr sig. Och blir glad över det, iställt för att bli ledsen av alla som inte gör skillnad/bryr sig. Man kan bara göra sitt bästa och genom att inspirera andra så vet jag att gör gör skillnad och det blir typ en “butterfly effect” där en person inspirerar en annan och den personen inspirerar en annan och det fortsätts! 🙂

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      1. Ja, det har du rätt i! Det är en tröstande tanke. Jag gillar även det du skriver i sista stycket ovan, att även om man inte kan vara perfekt så kan man göra något. Jag tycker så mycket om din blogg och din instagram, jag tror att du inspirerar många till ett mer etiskt medvetet liv.

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      1. I never realised how much plastic I used until I stopped and looked at it and it’s crazy how much! I am definitely gonna stop using plastic straws and stuff like that!

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  3. Here in the UK they have been charging for plastic carrier bags for a number of years, but like you said they are so cheap that many people buy them anyway. I have noticed however that shops are beginning to stop selling the cheap plastic bags in favour of “bags for life” which are plastic bags that you still have to buy but when they get torn/shabby etc the shop replaces them free of charge. I always take my own supply of bags when I go shopping but after reading this about the amount of plastic waste I think I will invest in some material shopping bags instead – they are sturdier and have to last longer than the carrier bags.
    Another thing – in the green grocer (fruit and veg) shops here they very rarely have any plastic bags to put the fruit and veg in – they use brown paper bags. Surely this is better than plastic in the biodegradable sense and paper gets recycled. Maybe more shops should use paper rather than plastic for things like fruit and vegetables.
    The straw thing was a real eye opener – I never thought to think of things like this, let alone the cotton buds. We could all make simple changes to our lifestyles that would in turn have an impact of change on the environment if anougth of us did so. Disposable nappies are a huge problem here, as are the disposable coffee cups from places like Costa Cofffee and such like as they are not recyclable and just end up in landfill. They did introduce a bring your own coffee cup but it didn’t really take off but I thought it was a good idea.
    We have to do something though about our use of plastic or at least improve how much actually gets recycled. Maybe we should go back to the days of glass milk bottles that were returned to the dairy and reused and remember the glass cola bottles? They were returnable too – as a child I remember collecting them up and returning them to the shop where they would pay you for returning them!
    There are so many ways we could improve the situation but for now I think we should all do what we can and try to minimise our use of plastic!

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